The baptismal font had been in place for a few years, but the need for railings became apparent. The design concept for this railing included copper artwork at the center of each of seven sides. The copper symbols are 12" in diameter and 1/4" thick. The designs are inserted into a steel 1" x 12" circle. The railings are 36" tall, and the gate on the front is 48" wide.
The goal was to install a fence that would provide safety while resonating with the design ethos of the worship space, and to create a beautiful and meaningful space for the sacrament of baptism. I designed the railings to be open and minimal to preserve visibility. Copper was chosen for the artwork in the center of each panel because it is used as an accent material in liturgical furniture and sculptures in the nave. Another goal was to create artwork that was relevant to the meaning of baptism. I designed symbols of the seven sacraments, placing the shell, the symbol of baptism, on the gate, since the rite of baptism opens the door to the other sacraments.
I was contacted by Steve Duperrieu, the administrator at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. I designed the symbols and railings, and contracted with Nick Petronzio at Ironwood Fabrication in Burbank, California to cut the copper symbols and create the rings in which they were set. Tim Byers of Byers Iron Works in Kevil, Kentucky, fabricated the railings and welded the steel circle into each panel. He also installed the railings, timing it with the granite surround in the floor.
Octagonal baptismal fonts have been in use since the early church. The eight sides represents the eighth day of the week on which Jesus was resurrected. The granite holy water font with a copper bowl comprise one of the eight sides, and the entrance gate is positioned opposite the font. The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (communion), Anointing the Sick, Reconciliation (confession), Matrimony, and Holy Orders (ordination.) Each is represented symbolically throughout the railing.
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