Friday, April 08, 2005

Into the dark

In the graph posted yesterday, that grim wall of death at the beginning of life was just one of the many afflictions -- war, famine, disease -- that plagued even the most affluent people in former times.

To the tragedy of high infant mortality, the Church added the grim reminder that without baptism there was no hope for the child's entry into eternal life. The parents of stillborn children or infants who died soon after birth looked desperately for "children's life signs" -- a rosiness of cheek caused by candle light, an imagined twitch -- to give them a chance to baptize the child and save its soul from eternal darkness.