Big baptismal areas becoming more common

By John Weiss

WINONA — The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona is looking back nearly two millennia for the design of its new baptistery.

The mother church of the Diocese of Winona has built a baptism area large enough to hold the priest and person to be baptized. Water flowing into the large area comes from a bowl about four feet tall where the priest can baptize infants.

The renovated cathedral will be rededicated, and the new altar dedicated, at an invitation-only event at 2 p.m. June. 5.


For many years, even centuries, baptismal fonts in Catholic churches were quite small, maybe a foot or two across. Many were in small, enclosed areas.

But Rome is now saying new churches and those being renovated should have areas large enough for at least two adults, and a surrounding area where many others can watch.

The priest can either completely immerse the person being baptized or pour large amounts of water over the person, said Peggy Lovrien, diocesan director of liturgy.

St. John’s in Rochester has an immersion font with the main area built into the floor. Churches in Preston, St. Charles, Byron and Stewartville also have the large fonts, and Holy Spirit in Rochester is planning one, she said.

The idea of big baptismal areas goes back to the first centuries of the church, she said. Archeologists have found many churches with large areas, big enough for complete immersion, she said.

Another reason for the bigger baptisteries is to for sacraments, such as baptism, to have "abundant symbols to speak loudly," she said.

Other examples are the priest holding up a larger host at the Consecration, pouring large amounts of water over the person being baptized and smearing, not just dabbing, holy oils during sacraments.

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.
Caitlin and Jason Keck’s two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation committee begins next month.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met on Jan. 5, 2023, to consider the application for Summit Carbon Solutions.
Qualified Minnesota farmers will receive dollar-for-dollar matching money to purchase farmland.