Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries

By Everett Ferguson | Go to book overview

41. Other North Italians

The information for Milan and Ambrose is similar to that provided by other bishops in north Italy.


Zeno of Verona

Zeno was bishop of Verona from about 362 to about 370/71. The ninety-two homilies (only about thirty complete) surviving from him are grouped in two books of sixtytwo and thirty texts respectively. Eight of these are summaries, outlines, or fragments of sermons addressed to catechumens giving “invitations to the font,”1 comparable to the exhortations to baptism found in contemporary Greek preachers. Although Zeno does not give the systematic, detailed account that Ambrose does, much of the Easter baptismal ceremony at Verona can be reconstructed from his allusions.

Activities preparatory for baptism included fasting (1.24.1) and penitence (see below). Zeno appears to be the earliest writer to use competentes (co-petitioners) for the candidates preparing for baptism.2

The “consecrated oil” of 2.13 appears to be a prebaptismal anointing, for it precedes reference to the immersion.3 It may have accompanied the renunciation,

1. Text by B. Löfstedt in Corpus Christianorum, Series latina, Vol. 22 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1971); English translation of seven of these by Thomas P. Halton in A. Hamman, ed., Baptism: Ancient Liturgies and Patristic Texts (Staten Island: Alba, 1967), pp. 64–66; study by Gordon P. Jeanes, The Day Has Come! Easter and Baptism in Zeno of Verona (Collegeville: Liturgical, 1995), who translates all the paschal homilies (pp. 54–99) and from whom I quote; Gordon P. Jeanes, “Paschal Baptism and Rebirth: A Clash of Images?” Studia patristica 26 (1993): 41–46.

2. Jeanes, The Day Has Come! p. 166. He reconstructs and discusses the paschal baptismal liturgy on pp. 149–214.

3. Jeanes, The Day Has Come! pp. 239–241, understands the statement in this passage as connecting forgiveness of sins with the prebaptismal anointing, but in spite of parallels in other authors he

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