Aquileia Baptistery and Font
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Aquileia (Slovene: Oglej), just north of the lagoons bordering the Gulf of Venice at the head of the Adriatic Sea, was founded as a Roman colony in 181 B.C.E. Apparently, a well established Christian community existed in Aquileia even before the Peace of Constantine (313 C.E.) because Bishop Theodore (308-319) built a large, richly decorated double basilica on the site of a Roman villa that had been used for community gatherings. Evolution of the architecture of Aquileia's church structures provides a record spanning more than twelve centuries of numerous building programs, often necessitated by war or natural disaster. The hexagonal, three-step immersion baptismal font (shown here), dates to ca. late 5th C. when the baptistery was rebuilt west of the basilica, itself reconstructed after the church complex was sacked by Attila in 452. The font is elevated from the baptistery floor on a stone platform. Stone columns, which probably supported a canopy, surround the font. The font's six-sided shape, unusual in the Early Christian West, had been introduced to Aquileia and its environs in mid-fourth century (probably as a result of North African influence) where it became a distinctive mark of baptismal structures. Since this 1980 image was captured, the baptistery interior and font have been restored [cataloguer's note]. ca. August 1980
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