Brass font for holy water having an urn shape receptacle with hinged cover surmounted by a crucifix. The front of the urn is decorated with a diamond pattern with a single circle punch in the center of each diamond. Inscribed above the cover are the letters: I H S. There is an incised cross above the "H" and a heart shape below the "H" The top front of the urn is inscribed with the date: 1752. Inscribed at the top of the crucifix are the letters "I.N.R.I."
This Holy Water font was found by a construction crew near the Chicago River's South Branch around 1894.
The crucifix on the font is inscribed with the letters "I.N.R.I.", which stands for "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" meaning "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (the inscription that is traditionally thought to have been hung over Jesus' head while he was crucified). The decorative inscription above the cover of the urn"I.H.S.", is a monogram symbolizing the name of Christ. These kinds of inscriptions were commonly found on religious items such as this Holy Water font.
ChicagoThe Indian fur trade brought many European trappers and settlers to the Chicago region. To contend with the Native Americans, French authorities sent Catholic missionaries to Illinois to convert Native Americans to Christianity. This brass water font was found near the Chicago River's South Branch, a common route of travel and trade during the French colonial era.