A 12th Century Baptismal Font Upon Twelve Oxen
And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast.
It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths. ((1 Kings 7:23-26))
I came across this interesting artifact while touring through Liège, Belgium, a few years ago. Unfortunately, we were in a rush and could not see it in person, but we spoke with members of the Church there who told us about it and who gave us pamphlets of the city which included it as one of the city’s premiere landmarks.
It is a baptismal font that was fashioned by the goldsmith Renier de Huy in the first half of the 12th century and now sits in the Eglise Saint Barhélemy (Church of St. Bartholomew). Originally it was made for the Eglise Notre-Dame-aux-Fonts (Church of Our Lady of the Baptismal Font), and was the only font in Liège where the faithful could be baptized for a time. The moldings which surround the font are all centered on a baptismal theme with five different baptismal scenes, including the baptism of Christ. It is a great example of Mosan or Rheno-mosan art.
The most unique thing about the font is that it was designed upon the backs of twelve oxen, in accordance with the description of the molten sea given in the Old Testament. One commenter describes it:
The font is placed on four stones and is carried by 10 oxen (originally 12 oxen) that symbolize the twelve apostles. ((http://www.trabel.com/luik/liege-baptismalfont.htm))
I’m not sure why the commenter chose to select the twelve apostles as the symbolism, as most scholars would probably agree that they represent the twelve tribes of Israel, but it is interesting nonetheless. The members of the Church in Liège consider this landmark as an evidence of the truth of the restoration of the gospel. It shows that others did, in fact, baptize in a font upon the backs of twelve oxen, just as the Latter-day Saints do within every temple of the Church throughout the world.
Read more here – http://www.trabel.com/luik/liege-baptismalfont.htm.