Beneath the Tree of Life, in the apse of the church, is the baptistery. The art around the font is a visual image of the church into which we enter through baptism: apostles, angels, sacraments, saints.
The baptismal font is carved of Mariposa Danby-White marble with a rim of gold mosaic and stands on four pillars of green Verde Antique marble. The four pillars suggest the four rivers of life depicted in the Tree of Life painting above. The altar, ambo, and ambry also stand on pillars of green marble, emphasizing the relationship of the Eucharist, the word, baptism, and confirmation. The baptism of an infant may be celebrated by immersion – the naked baby is gently dipped into the warm water of the font. Adults being baptized at the Easter Vigil kneel in the recessed section of the base and water from the font is poured over them. The fullness of these rites evokes the invisible reality of the sacrament – dying and rising with Christ to new life. The shape of the font is octagonal, a traditional symbol of the eighth day- the day of new creation. It is also circular on the inside, symbolizing a womb and new birth.
Above the twelve pillars of the ambulatory, below the Tree of Life are portraits of the apostles with their Latin names, painted by Professor Vladimir Shamberk. This placement reflects their foundational place in the church.
- Seven stained glass windows in the apse depict angels, each holding a symbol of a sacrament.
- The angel holding a shell with water flowing into a small font symbolizes baptism.
- The angel representing confirmation holds a shield embossed with a dove, representing the Holy Spirit.
- In the reconciliation window the angel holds keys, alluding to the power to “bind and to loose” from sin.
- The sacrament of the Eucharist is represented by the center angel holding a chalice and a host.
- The angel holding a lectionary and ciborium evokes the preaching and sacramental roles of the priest, communicated through the sacrament of holy orders.
- For the sacrament of matrimony the angel holds a medallion with an image of a woman and a man, naked and innocent as in the Garden of Eden.
- A vessel of oil and a stole are in the hands of the angel representing the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
Byzantine Style Mosaics of the Doctors of the Church
Between the angel windows are Byzantine style mosaics depicting three early popes and three theologians or doctors of the church. All six handed on the teachings of the apostles and the first councils through their writings and preaching. All but Jerome, a priest, are depicted wearing an archbishop's white pallium with black crosses. The shimmering gold background of these mosaics represents heavenly glory in the Byzantine tradition.
The Paschal Candle
The brass stand of the paschal candle is decorated with a Gordian knot symbolic of the covenant God makes with the baptized – a covenant that cannot be undone. At the beginning of the Easter Vigil each year, a new paschal candle is inscribed with a cross, the Alpha and Omega, and the numerals of the current year. The candle burns throughout the fifty days of the Easter season, at baptisms, and at funerals. Each newly baptized Christian receives a candle lit from this paschal candle with the reminder that they have been “enlightened by Christ.”
The brass ambry stands on a pillar near the baptistery. The Chi Rho with Alpha and Omega monogram for Jesus Christ on the front of the pillar relates the oils to the power of Christ in the sacraments throughout life. Within the ambry are housed glass vessels of the sacramental oils: holy chrism for post-baptismal anointing, confirmation, ordination, and the dedication of churches; the oil of catechumens which is used during the catechumenate for adults and before baptism for children; and the oil of the sick, used in the anointing of the sick. The vessels are marked with abbreviations for the Latin names of the oils: SC (sacra chrisma), OC (oleum catechumenorum), and OI (oleum infirmorum).
The carved image of a pelican recalls the pillar's previous use as a pedestal for a statue of the Sacred Heart.