The mystery of the huge baptismal font

The baptismal font in Amiens Cathedral doesn’t look like much and by all means not like a baptismal font. It is one though. The historians fight about it. Fun fact: in the early centuries the baptism was executed in a river. Later the candidate for baptism was submerged by the holy water. For this they needed huge baptismal fonts like the one in Amiens Cathedral. But the huge baptismal font was placed on the ground. In the 13th century the baptism by infusion was already executed everywhere. I guess it was more practical and the candidates for baptism were generally children that wouldn’t need such a big baptismal font anyways.

The mystery of the huge baptismal font


And that’s why the historians fight about this baptismal font. The stands were made from a different material as the basin. The stands are decorated with a plant or flower motif. They were definitely made in the 13th century.

The mystery of the huge baptismal font


The basin might be older since it resembles another basin in Somme and said other basin was made in the 11th century. All historians agree that the basin has been used standing on the ground. Some say that it might even have been made in the 8th or 9th-century. They say the stands were added later when the ritual of the baptism changed. The others have no idea why the stands were added. I find this rather fascinating. The others say, that the basin, made in 1180, was used to wash corpses, which is also a possible but not so interesting theory. It doesn’t sound very nice to wash corpses in it and then baptise people in it. But you’ll never know. The basin is decorated with four prophets. One on every angle. The names of Joel and Zachary are still readable.

The mystery of the huge baptismal font

The mystery of the huge baptismal font


Here you got a similar (or even bigger) baptismal font made around 1100 and it’s placed on the ground. This is in Speyer Cathedral (photo by: Heribert Bechen, 5 million visits – many thanks! on Flickr.)

DSC05692 ie.jpeg - Speyer  Krypta, Taufbecken

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4 thoughts on “The mystery of the huge baptismal font

  1. we will look for the cathedral if we are in amiens the next time, that was super interesting….

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    • Are you going to Amiens sometime? My car broke down on the Autoroute, when I was driving back to Germany. It was a rather costly visit. But the Cathedral was awesome. And I liked the church Sacre Coeur very much.

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      • we were at a dog show in amiens once… we love normandy a lot…. so sad that your car made problems…

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      • Oh, then you got to go to dog show again. 😉 No worries about the car, they changed the fuel pump twice before a German garage found out that it was only a half-broken fuse. At the time it broke, I had a job! Now I’m just a wife. A very odd state for me.

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