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Why many baptismal fonts have eight sides


Pascal Huot | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/09/22

Baptismal fonts are traditionally made with eight sides to symbolize biblical truths related to salvation.

A little-known fact is that many baptismal fonts are created with eight sides. This may seem like a trivial point, but it is a very symbolic number.

First of all,eight is most closely associated with the Resurrection and the new creation. Jesus rose on the eighth day, the day after the Jewish sabbath.

Secondly, Jewish boys were circumcised on the eighth day and St. Paul explained to his communities how “True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart” (Romans 2:28-29). Baptismal fonts are often designed in an octagonal shape to represent this new life and “circumcision of the heart.”

Third, the number eight recalls the ark and how eight people were saved by water.

[W]hen God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.

1 Peter 3:20

The next time you see a baptismal font, count its sides and see if it has the number eight. If it does, then you will know the rich symbolism behind it.

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