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LETTER xxix               SYRIAN BAPTISM                            299

by three steps, at which the people receive the Eueha-
ristic elements. Through the arch is dimly seen the
altar, over which is a stone canopy, or "baldachino, sup-
ported on four pillars. In the sacristy is a narrow but
deep font, in which the infant is baptized by being
dipped in the water up to the knees at the name of the
Father, up to the waist at the name of the Son, and
wholly immersed at the name of the Holy Ghost, the
priest repeating, " Thou art baptized in the name of the
Father, Amen, and of the Son, Amen, and of the Holy
Ghost, Amen." Before the rite the infant's forehead is
anointed with oil in the church, and it is completely
anointed in the baptistery before being plunged into the
font. Every infant has two god-parents, who act as
sponsors at its subsequent marriage. These persons by
undertaking this office are placed in a relationship of
affinity close enough to be a bar to marriage. After the
baptism the child is confirmed in the nave with oil and
the imposition of the priest's hands, and after being very
tightly bound up in its swaddling clothes is handed to the
god-parents. Infant communion is the rule of the Church,
but the elements are rarely received at the time of baptism.
Baptism is only valid when celebrated by a priest and
in a consecrated church. Private baptisms are unlawful,
but there is a form of prayer appointed for use if a child
is dangerously ill, during which the priest signs a basin
of water with the sign of the Cross, saying, " In the
strength of our Lord may this water be of blessing in
the name," etc. The mother afterwards bathes the child
in the water, and if it dies they " trust it to the mercy
of God." If it recovers it must be taken to church to be
baptized in the usual manner. The Holy Communion,
the Kourbana, ought by rule to precede baptism in the
very early morning, and the baptismal rite ought to be
administered on the eighth day, but it is often postponed