Baptizing the Romans


  • John F. Romano Benedictine College, Atchinson, Kansas



baptism, liturgy, Ordo/Ordines, Ordo Romanus XI, city of Rome, history, religious mentalities.


This article focuses on Ordo Romanus XI, a liturgical script that describes the process for performing baptism. Including its preparatory meetings. First, the essay discusses the context in which the source was created, and second draws on its evidence to understand elements of the society of its origin. It is argued that the source was composed in the city of Rome in the second half of the seventh century, and it was intended to introduce innovations into the celebration and conception of baptism there. While previous research has characterized the source as one milestone in the history of baptism, a close reading of it provides valuable hints as to the behavior, attitudes, and identity of seventh-century Romans, both on individual and collective levels. Baptism inducted people into Christian society, cleansed them from sin, and made salvation possible. It mediated both human and supernatural relationships. Further, it strengthened Christian belief, gender roles, and the conception that Romans were the new Israelites.

On cover:
Monks singing the Office and decorated initial A[sperges me.]. Gradual Olivetan Master (Use of the Olivetan Benedictines), illuminated manuscript on parchment ca. 1430-1439. Italy, Monastero di Santa Maria di Baggio near Milan, Ca 1400-1775.
Beinecke Ms1184: The olivetan Gradual. Gradual. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.




How to Cite

Romano, J. F. (2019) “Baptizing the Romans”, Acta ad archaeologiam et artium historiam pertinentia, 31(n.s.17), pp. 43–62. doi: 10.5617/acta.7799.