Salona Baptistery and Font, Looking toward the Mountains
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Titus, pupil of St. Paul, preached in the large port city of Salona (Croatian: Solin; near Split), in the Roman province of Dalmatia, on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea. Christian citizens of Salona became some of the church's first martyrs during the reign of Diocletian. Between the 4th and 6th centuries, the city was an important center of Christianity. Around 640, Salona was destroyed by Avar and Slav invaders.Studies of Christian architecture remnants inside the city walls and in outlying cemeteries (e.g., Marusinac and Manastirine) have shed light on the development of the basilica form and have shown how the cult of martyrs influenced the evolution of religious buildings.Among Salona's archaeological finds is a large ecclesial complex (separate but linked structures that housed distinct but related functions in the life of the faith community) that includes remains of a three-aisled basilica (basilica urbana; begun before 405 and completed by 426), and just north of it, an octagonal baptistery, a consignatorium (room where the newly baptized received the Sacrament of Confirmation, i.e., anointing and imposition of hands) and a catechumenon (hall where religious instruction was given). The octagonal baptistery (5th C.) is constructed of masonry. Inside the walls, imported marble columns ring the cruciform font that occupies the center of the space. Constructed of bricks and mortar, this deep well is designed for baptism by immersion.
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