BLS devotes a lot of word to their examination of the demands the baptismal rites place on church architecture and design. We’ll cover the next four sections carefully.
§ 66 § The rites of baptism, the first of the sacraments of initiation, require a prominent place for celebration.(RCIA 25) Initiation into the Church is entrance into a eucharistic community united in Jesus Christ. Because the rites of initiation of the Church begin with baptism and are completed by the reception of the Eucharist, the baptismal font and its location reflect the Christian’s journey through the waters of baptism to the altar. This integral relationship placing the font and altar on the same architectural axis, using natural or artificial lighting, using the same floor patterns, and using common or similar materials and elements of design.
The first challenge is judging the “required prominence.” Proximity to the altar is a common solution. Another is placement at the church entrance, suggesting baptism as the “entrance into a eucharistic community.” My community has chosen the latter option, with placement on the same axis, and the use of similar lighting–a “crown” of lights suggestive of the baldacchin over the altar.
The point of BLS 66 being that baptistry design not be a peripheral concern. We’ll explore this further over the next few days.
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.