Baptismal Days in Termini Imerese: 1542-48

Baptismal days in Codex A are based on the Julian Calendar which was the standard in the early 1500s. Note that the Gregorian calendar did not come into use in Spanish lands, which included Sicily, until 1582.

Cornelio Aqueduct

The administration of the Sacrament of Baptism in 16th-century Termini-Imerese was dependent upon water supplied to the town by the  ancient Roman  Cornelio Aqueduct.

A list of the days in August of 1542 on which the Sacrament of Baptism was administered, demonstrates that baptisms at San Nicola could occur on virtually any day of the week:

Thursday: 3 agosto

Sunday : 6 agosto

Monday: 14 agosto

Wednesday: 16 agosto

Sunday: 20 agosto

Tuesday 22 agosto

Thursday: 24 agosto

Friday: 25 agosto

Sunday: 27 agosto

Wednesday: 30 agosto

Baptisms for the period ranging from November 27, 1543 through August 6, 1544 are missing from Codex A. Perhaps administration of the Sacrament was suspended during this time because of war or some other calamity. There are a few other gaps, but none are of this magnitude. Additional ones follow:

December 7, 1542 – February 6, 1543

August 1, 1545 – September 5, 1545

There are a number of baptisms inserted into the record at a later time. Some take advantage of extra space at the bottom of pages notated earlier. An example of this is found on page 66 recto, line k: an entry for August 23, 1545 is appended between two entries for September 21st.

The above leads to a larger question: were the notaries compiling Codex A from separate records made at the time the Sacrament was administered? If that is the case, then one can imagine a set of baptismal records laid out in order on a notary’s desk, ready for copying into Codex A. In comes an officiating priest with an additional two records from weeks earlier, and it is then that the notary inserts this older information into the current record.

It has been posited that the entries in Codex A are actually a compilation of records from several parish churches surrounding the Mother Church of San Nicola Bari. There is no indication in the text of the MS that this is the case. On the other hand, in Codex B, compiled near the end of the 1500s, the Miraculi Church is mentioned several times as a place where the Sacrament was administered.

The bottom line is that baptism is a matter of water. In the 1500s, residents in Termini Imerese living in town obtained their water from the communal fountains placed conveniently in the town squares, and these were fed by the Roman aqueduct. Therefore, the erection of a special building, a baptistry, also fed by the aqueduct, would have been a necessity.

In any case, the very term ‘Mother Church’ indicates that San Nicola Bari was ‘Sacrament Central’ in the early 1500s.

Published on July 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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