To Secundinus, Bishop.
Gregory to Secundinus, Bishop of Tauromenium. [In Sicily.]
Some time ago we ordered that the baptistery 1511 should be removed from the monastery of Saint Andrew, which is above Mascalæ, because of inconvenience to the monks, and that an altar should be erected in the place where the fonts now are. But the carrying out of this order has been put off so far. We therefore admonish thy Fraternity that thou interpose no further delay after receiving this our letter, but that the fonts themselves be filled up 1512 , and an altar at once erected there for celebration of the sacred mysteries; to the end that the aforesaid monks may be at liberty to celebrate more securely the work of God, and that our mind be not provoked against thy Fraternity for negligence.
Baptisteries (baptisteria) were anciently separate buildings adjoining churches (cf. VI. 22), the fontes being the pools of water (called also piscinæ and κολυμβήθρα) therein contained. (See Bingham, B. VIII. C. VII. Sect. 1, 4.) The inconvenience to the monks of having a baptistery at their monastery would be from the concourse of people resorting to it, which would interfere with monastic seclusion. For a similar reason Gregory more than once forbids public masses in monasteries. Cf. e.g. II. 41; VI. 46.139b:1512
Fonts were anciently sunken pools. “In medio habet fontem in terra excavatam ad quinque ulnas…tribus gradibus in id descensus est.” Onuphrius, de baptisterio Lateran.