The baptismal font: wonderful and mysterious

The baptismal font: wonderful and mysterious

Originally, the baptismal fonts were probably located in the small church of Notre-Dame aux fonts attached to the south-east side of the prestigious cathedral of Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Lambert. The church and the cathedral were systematically destroyed in 1794 (Liège revolution) and the baptismal font only reappeared in 1803, after the Concordat, and was then assigned to the church of Saint-Barthélemy.

The messages transmitted

The author(s) wanted first and foremost, through the theme of baptism, to tell a story: starting with the preaching of John the Baptist and his first baptisms, we arrive at the crucial moment of the baptism of the Messiah himself followed by that of the centurion Cornelius, one of the founding acts of Christianity. The universality of the Christian message, the profound humanity of the divinity and its impact on the temporal world are all theological messages supported by this major work, all in finesse and high technicality.

The baptismal font (early 12th century)
The preaching of John the Baptist


The beauty of the draperies, the purity of the expressions, the softness of the gestures, the unusual thickness of the bas-reliefs and the abundance of the high reliefs, are based on the implementation of a technology (much more than a technique) called “de la cire perdue”. Indeed, the mold in which the high reliefs are inscribed is composed of beeswax surrounded by terracotta but this mold will be “lost” when it will be replaced by brass, a subtle mixture of copper, zinc and a little lead, melted at around 1000° by a metallurgy expert.