St. John the Baptist Baptistery Interior, Detail of East Apse and Two Fonts
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
Among the remnants of ancient Castelseprio (Varese province, northern Italy) is an octagonal baptistery dedicated to St. John the Baptist that dates from the 5th-7th C. Features of its construction suggest the shape of the liturgical rituals once celebrated there. It has two fonts, an octagonal one and a circular one. These may have been used for baptism by immersion and sprinkling, respectively. There is also a small apse that faces east. Adjacent to the baptistery are the remains of San Giovanni Evangelista, a large, three-aisled basilica dating to the 5th C. Castelseprio was founded as a Roman fort at the intersection of two important roads. When Lombards occupied the ancient settlement during the medieval period they established a well protected town, enclosed within walls. But the citadel was captured in 1287 by Ottone Visconti, Archbishop of Milan, who completely destroyed Castelseprio to prevent rivals from using it. Thereafter it remained uninhabited. It is preserved as an archaeological site near a modern village that bears the same name. ca. July 1991
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