February 3, 2010

Little Fishes

(I'm putting up this post again, because now I have a picture.)

The church two parishes away has a little chapel off the left side of the main sanctuary. I don't know if they ever have Mass in there, but it would be great for a group of up to thirty people or so. Gated off on one side is the old baptistery, which fascinates me. It has a mosaic floor made to look like a pool, with fish swimming about in it. On the floor, in Roman capitals, is an inscription that has always fascinated me:


So today when I was there I wrote it down. A quick Google search reveals its origin in Tertullian's De Baptismo 1, 3:

Sed nos pisciculi secundum nostrum ιχθον Iesum Christum in aqua
nascimur, nec aliter quam in aqua permanendo salvi sumus.

"But we little fishes are born in water according to our Fish Jesus Christ, and nor are we saved in any way but by remaining in the water."

Whoever designed the baptistery perhaps left the Iesum Christum out of the quote to get the IXΘON right in the middle of the inscription, which is very striking.


Qualis Rex said...

VERY nice! And yes, since it is the lone Greek word in a "sea" of Latin (yuck yuck) I think the point is made. Thanks for this, Father Charles.

I love well-done mosaic. For me (and for many) Cefalu' Cathedral in Sicily is the pinacle of the artform. The surviving works in Hagia Sophia are a very close second, IMHO.

GrandmaK said...

Indeed, very nice. Thank you!! Cathy

armigerjagoe said...

I think mosiacs have a spiritual sense in that each small tile is a valuable part of the total masterpiece, just as each of us have an important role to play in God's Universe.
Armiger Jagoe, editor of The Joyful Catholic

armigerjagoe said...

I think mosiacs have spiritual value as each tile is a valuable part ofthe total masterpiece, just as each of us have an important role to play in God's Universe.
Armiger Jagoe,editor of The Joyful Catholic

Paul A. Zalonski said...

I used this metaphor in a paper last semester. Tertullian gets many things right.

Warren said...

This is great. I want a picture (painting) like this, with the fishies, for my fish room at home.

I'm bigtime into aquariums. My other favourite link between Fishies and Catholic stuff, is when the ocean, and its life, is mentioned in Psalms or Canticles. Such as the canticle from Sunday Week 1, with the "Ye dolphins and all water creatures, Praise the Lord!"