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Ancient liturgical practice of "blowing in" the Holy Spirit to the mouth of the candidate for baptism by the celebrant. It was preparatory to the baptism itself. The term is from the Latin in and sufflare, "to blow." It was the counterpart to the "exsufflation," or exorcism of evil spirits by the action of the celebrant, "blowing" the evil spirits "out of" the candidates. The distinction between "insufflation" and "exsufflation" has not always been preserved. Insufflation was also used to refer to the action of the priest during the blessing of the font, where the ancient rubric read, "let the priest breathe three times into the font in the form of a cross . . . ." Neither insufflation nor exsufflation appears in any English or American Book of Common Prayer. The action is optional in post-Vatican II Roman Catholic liturgies. The biblical roots of the insufflation ceremonies are found in such passages as the second creation story in Genesis which describes God breathing the breath of life into the first human being (Gn 2:7), and the account of Jesus' breathing upon the disciples and imparting to them the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:22). The term can also be used to describe these events. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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