The Holy Font

The basilica was sacked by the Vandals and rebuilt by Pope Gregory around 590 CE. Other restorations occurred in the seventh and eighth centuries. The Baptistry, we are told by Church historians, was ordered by Constantine, suggesting that the structure was built around 313 CE. Constantine may, in fact, have built churches for the Christians who came to his cause, but not because he converted to Christianity. Building Churches creates obligations, political obligations. In any case, this may be one of the first official Christian baptismal structures.

The Holy Font is large enough for initiates to stand in water to their knees while water is poured over their heads. This would be considered a partial emersion, but still very impressive. The mosaic is found in the ceiling above the font and clearly shows the Amanita muscaria in the center of each chalice or vase (eight in number) representing everlasting life. When Gabriel announces to Mary she is with child she is often portrayed with vase and protruding lily.

The birds flanking the Amanita are of both male and female of the species. The Amanita is the axis mundi, the world tree, the center from which all things come and into which all things go. When things come forth they split into paired opposites. That center, that which is everything and nothing at the same instant, is referred to as God, Aten, Atman, Amun, energy, singularity, and so on. Here that energy is represented as the Amanita muscaria emerging and separating from the veil symbolized by the chalice. The entire mosaic represents ultimate knowledge which can never be known until or unless it splits into paired opposites. Knowledge is revealed through comparison of one thing to another; this is called relativity. These ancient people used Amanita muscaria and other forms of manna to formulate this idea, which Einstein later clarified with mathematics.