Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Olive-Tree Baptismal Font

There have been some reports and comments in the Catholic blogosphere about the new olive-tree baptismal font in the Sistine chapel. I haven't read all of them, but those I have seen were not at all keen.

Like others, I was concerned at the thought of a dear little chubby arm being stabbed by one of those alarmingly prickly-looking leaves. The design does however make the foliage lower at the front, in fact below the rim of the font, which reduces the risk somewhat.

I rather like the design. It's certainly modern, but it is a realistic representation of the natural appearance of an olive tree.

More importantly, it recalls - deliberately, I suppose - the olive tree to which St Paul refers in his Letter to the Romans. I published a post in June 2010, on the subject of the olive, in the so-called prophecies of St Malachy, and in the Holy Father's words at Ben Gurion Airport at the end of his visit to Israel in May 2009. With this new font, Pope Benedict appears to be emphasising the idea of Baptism as our grafting into the olive tree, which also awaits, in God's good time, the grafting back of its natural branches.

Pictures via Google Images, from (1) and (2) - neither of whom liked the new font.

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