BAPTISTERY OF SAN GIOVANNI IN FONTE
In the hamlet Fonti of Padula rises one of the most beautiful monuments of the Christian world: the baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte, which dates back to the early centuries of Christianity, also known as "the Church in the water": the awesomeness of this monument is the enormous flow of spring water running through it.
A recent restoration led to the finding of the greater part of this ancient Baptistery, making it available to everybody. You can visit it freely, through an entrance gate. If you find it is closed you can ask Agriturismo "La Fonte-Trote vive" (adjacent to the Baptistery) to open it.
Early news about the Baptistery comes from Cassiodoro, official historian of Theodoric, who, in the 6th century, noticed that an annual fair in honour of Saint Cyprian was held here; but, because of the lacking in public order, he wrote a letter to the King; he described, in the letter, the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Fonte, who had a peculiarities: baptism was given to catechumens by immersion in a tub of hot spring water tha, during the celebration of Easter’s Eve, prodigiously swelled reaching the perfect level for the rite. The oldest part of the building is certainly the place where you find the tub and two ambulatory on the sides, while other structures were added over the centuries by Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, who owned this architectural complex until a few centuries ago.
Here and there, on the blackened and cracked plaster, you can see fragments of frescoes portraying evangelists and saints. Important historical value is given to the fragments of some frescos portraying four faces, even if the deterioration’s stage does not permit reliable identification.
However the hair reveals similarities with Roman ivories of 6th-7th centuries. The remains of the decoration of the apse could be compared to the frescoes of the Epifanio Cave in S. Vincenzo al Volturno, probably dating back to the early 9th century. The remains of another fresco, depicting the Saints, is in a Greek-Byzantine style similar to that of the apse of the Badia di Pattano (in depht).