Tuesday, 5 July 2011

I'm not drinking THAT!

I have finally stumbled across something I knew I’d read once before, but had forgotten where I’d seen it, which is the instruction regarding the water in church fonts current in the 16th century Church of England.
In the rubrics of the 1549 baptism service it states that,
The water in the fonte shalbe chaunged every moneth once at the lest ...
Bear in mind that here (as in the 1552 and 1662 services), the norm is that the child should be dipped in the font, not simply have a splash of water poured on his or her head. Add to that, the child is not some robust one-year old, as is often the case today, but an infant born the previous week.
Now I don’t know how things are where you live, but in this part of the world, water that has been standing around for a moneth, or even a fortnighte, is pretty well stagnant.
Perhaps they were made of sterner stuff. But I cannot help hoping that some wise verger chose to change the water not just once a weke, but perhaps when it showed the least sign of turning greene.
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  1. At least the babies who survived baptism would have had wonderfull immune systems. Not too sure about the priests though!

  2. Or perhaps when it shewed the lest bit of browne.

  3. Seriously, if light was excluded by the lockable cover then a change once a month would be about right. Of course if the candidate had a woopsee in the font (I have a feeling that Ethelred the Unready did so??) then an immediate change would be necessary.

  4. Once a month would have been quite an innovation, I would have thought, to all those parishes who changed the blessed holy water in the font just once a year, at Easter.

    Ever wondered why there were so many baptisms at Easter (and so few in the months immediately preceding)? Well, now you know!

  5. The Baptismal Waters were also sealed with a layer of Chrism