Monday, October 6, 2014

Mark's thoughts: The weird and wacky history of Confirmation, Part 9 - Medieval scholastic theology defines Confirmation

During the Carolingian period two major developments occurred in Gaul that led to the creation of Confirmation. The first was the introduction of the second chrismation by the bishop from the Roman baptismal rite.  In Gaul it encountered the nomenclature of “confirmation” that was associated with episcopal oversight and legitimization of baptism.  The second was the separation of baptism from this second chrismation by the bishop due to changes in the timing and location of baptism. Together these two developments prompted theological reflection about the nature of this second chrismation which came to be called “Confirmation.”

I. Romano-Germanic Pontifical of the Tenth Century and its successors
The rite of Confirmation was advanced by one of the most important developments in the history of the Western liturgy: the Roman-Germanic Pontifical of the Tenth Century (RGP).  Compiled around 950-962, it was disseminated in the years that followed by the Ottonian rulers.[1]  Vogel says of it:
Not only was the RGP the meeting place of ancient traditions and the repository of the ritual practices worked out in the IX and X centuries, it was also the point of departure for a later evolution of liturgy that we shall discuss; it survived in the Roman Pontificals of the High Middle Ages, in the Pontifical of Trent (1596), and, to some extent, even in the Pontifical of the II Vatican Council (1978).  Just as the eucharistic liturgy reached a kind of apogee in the Hadrianum revised and  supplemented by St. Benedict of Aniane, so non-eucharistic worship (aside from the Divine Office) reached a kind of peak in the contents and arrangement of the RGP.[2]
It is during this period which laid the groundwork for the Roman Pontifical of the Twelfth Century that orders of service for confirmation apart from baptism first appear.  Turner observes that:
The actual ceremony of confirmation apart from baptism must have existed for   centuries.  However, since no independent ritual text prior to this period has been preserved, none probably existed.  The development of a rite of confirmation at this point of its history indicates that the ceremony had taken on an important and permanent part of the Church’s ministry.[3]
In the RGP the rite of confirmation that followed baptism had the bishop raise his hand over the baptized infants collectively and pray for the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Then he made the sign of the cross with chrism on the forehead of each while saying, “I confirm and sign you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”[4] In the Roman Pontifical of the Twelfth century we find for the first time the wording that would become standard in the western Church: “I sign you with the sign of the cross and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”[5]

This wording finalized a shift in emphasis to the chrismation rather then the bishop’s hand laying and prayer for the sevenfold gift of the Spirit.  Johnson notes:
So strong was this focus, in fact, that eventually the very formulas used for this   anointing in the Roman Pontificals came to employ the term “confirmation” (e.g., “I sign you … and I confirm you …”).  What is most peculiar about this, however, is that while within the Roman rite itself the specific emphasis on the sevenfold gift of the Spirit always occurred within the handlaying prayer and never in connection with the anointing, it is the bishop’s anointing with chrism with its Trinitarian formula that became the special sacrament of the gift of the Holy Spirit.[6] 
II. The sources of scholastic theological development
During the Carolingian period a text associated with Alcuin (identified as Text 9 by Keefe in her recent edition)[7] was the most frequently copied of the responses to Charlemagne’s questions about baptism[8].  It described what happened after baptism in terms of “strengthening”: “Finally he receives the septiform gift of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of the bishop’s hand, so that he is strengthened [roboretur] through the Holy Spirit to preach to others, who through grace in baptism was bestowed with eternal life.”[9]  The text does not mention chrismation by the bishop.  Fisher thinks that the rite probably did include this since Alcuin’s student Rabanus Maurus includes it in a fuller description of what is likely to be the same rite.[10]

Rabanus Maurus, in an influential work, wrote:
Finally the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, given through the grace of eternal life, is bestowed on them by the bishop through the imposition of the hand, so that they may be strengthened through the Holy Spirit for preaching to others the same gift which they received in baptism. For the baptized are signed with chrism on the top of the head by the priest, but on the forehead by the bishop, so that the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them may be signified in the first anointing to consecrate the dwelling for God, and the sevenfold grace of the same Holy Spirit  may be said to come on them in the second with all fullness of sanctity and knowledge and strength (The Instruction of Clerics, 1:29ff).[11]
Rabanus indicates that the Spirit is given twice – once by each chrismation (though he also associates this with the bishop’s imposition of the hand at the beginning of the quotation). The presbyter’s chrismation on the top of the head consecrates the individual as a dwelling for God.  The bishop’s chrismation on the forehead gives the sevenfold grace of the same Spirit to strengthen the individual for preaching to others (the exact same explanation as found in his teacher Alcuin).

Rabanus justifies the twin giving of the Spirit by pointing to salvation history.  He writes:        
Nor is it strange that the man should be twice anointed with the same chrism for receiving the Holy Spirit, when the same Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles themselves twice over – that is, once upon earth when after his resurrection the Lord breathed upon them, and once from heaven, when, after the ascension of the Lord, he came upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost in fiery tongues, and granted them to speak in the tongues of all nations (The Instruction of Clerics 1:30).[12]
The idea that a second action of the Spirit strengthens the baptized for some aspect of living the Christian life would become the starting point for all later medieval theological work with Confirmation.  The specific form that this would take was determined by the the Pentecost sermon included in the Eusebius Gallicanus collection that has been attributed to the fifth century bishop, Faustus of Riez. We have seen that some scholars question this attribution and instead believe it is a Carolingian era text intended to justify practice of that time.[13]
The sermon states:

What the imposition of the hand bestows in confirming individual neophytes, the descent of the Holy Spirit gave people then in the world of believers … the Holy Spirit, who descends upon the waters of baptism by a salvific falling, bestows on the font a fullness toward innocence, and presents in confirmation an increase for grace.  And because in this world we who will be prevailing must walk in every age between invisible enemies and dangers, we are reborn in baptism for life, and we confirmed after baptism for the strife.  In baptism we are washed; after baptism we are strengthened.  And although the benefits of rebirth suffice immediately for those about to die, nevertheless the helps of confirmation are necessary for those who will prevail. Rebirth in itself saves those needing to be received in the peace of the blessed age.  Confirmation arms and supplies those needing to be preserved for the struggles and battles of this world.  But the one who arrives at death after baptism, unstained with acquired innocence, is confirmed by death because one can no long sin after death.[14]  

This text clearly distinguishes baptism from confirmation.  The Spirit is at work through water of baptism as the individual is reborn, washed and saved.  However in confirmation the believer receives something new and additional through the work of the Spirit. There is: 1) an increase for grace; 2) as the believer is strengthened; 3) so that he can prevail in the strife of living in this world.  These three items would become the shared assumptions of all medieval theological work about Confirmation.  They attained this position because the text was included in the pseudonymous False Decretals  and were attributed to a fictitious pope, Melchiades. 

III. Pseudo-Isidore’s False Decretals, Gratian’s Decretum and Peter Lombard’s Sentences
Pseudo-Isidore’s False Decretals are a collection of canon law documents that was compiled around 850.[15]  The text describes itself as the work of “Isidore Mercator,” a name that was meant to suggest a connection to and even to identify the author with Isidore of Seville whose encyclopedic learning made him a major authority from the early medieval period (ca. 560-636).[16]  The False Decretals included the Faustus of Riez text, but attributed it to a “Pope Melchiades,” who in fact, never existed.

The False Decretals included another influential statement that was applied to Confirmation.  The text states: “For after baptism, all the faithful ought to receive the Holy Spirit through the imposition of the hand of bishops, so that they may fully become Christians” (Pseudo-Isidore Decretals, Urban I).[17]  While Urban I did exist, the quotation is spurious and is another example of the way that Pseudo-Isidore created the False Decretals in order to protect the rights of diocesan bishops.[18] This text indicated that in order for a person to be a full Christian, they must receive Confirmation.

These two texts, falsely attributed to popes, shaped all medieval thought about Confirmation. They did so because the False Decretals accomplished the goal of their pseudonymous compiler. They were accepted as authentic and authoritative.  During the twelfth century, Gratian used them in compiling his Decretum which provided the foundation for all subsequent Canon Law.  Gratian included both texts, and so in turn Peter Lombard included them when writing about Confirmation in his Sentences (where it was listed as one of the seven sacraments).[19] Lombard’s Sentences went on to become the standard introductory textbook for the study of theology throughout the Middle Ages.  Attributed to popes and invested with the authority of being included in Gratian’s Decretum and Lombard’s Sentences, these two texts had an enormous influence.  Austin notes that:
The scholastics turned their attention to understanding the sacrament of confirmation and specifying precisely its effects.  The did this, however, using the terminology of previous writers, particularly of Faustus.  His ideas of an increase of grace and strengthening for battle were taken for granted, presented, and then thought through anew.  Thus the understanding of confirmation presumed and then developed by the scholastics was not the older image of initiating a person into the church, but rather of “gracing” more deeply a person already baptized.[20]
IV. Strength for the fight
The explanation that Confirmation provides strength for the fight of the Christian life is found repeatedly among writers of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Otto of Bamberg states: 
Confirmation is the second sacrament, that is the anointing of chrism on the forehead. This sacrament is necessary for those who will survive, that is, so that they may be strengthened by the support of the Holy Spirit, if, summoned to fight, they are armed against all temptations and evils of life. However, it should not be deferred to old age, as some people think, but it should be received in the fervor of adolescence itself, because that age is more subject to temptations. . . .   (Sermon to the Pomeranians).[21]
Nicholas of Clairvaux preached:
Second is the sacrament of confirmation. In baptism the Spirit is given for grace,here it is given for the struggle. There we are cleaned from iniquities, here we are fortified with virtues. Does not the consecrated hand press the oil of sacred chrism on the lintel-forehead of our earthly home? Nor is just any executor of such a great mystery allowed, but only a bishop.” (“Sermon” 69).[22]
The Council of Worcester (1240) declared:
For the baptized, as neophytes, that is as new soldiers of Christ, a manifold fight arises against the prince of darkness, of whom we read in Job, that “there is no power upon the earth which may be compared to him.” Therefore the sacrament of confirmation, which the church has appointed for bestowing strength on the faithful, is necessary for them  (6 “Confirmation”).[23]
Because Confirmation provided an increase of grace over what had been received in Baptism, it is not uncommon to find writers describing Confirmation as “better.”  Peter of Poitiers wrote:
Confirmation is given on a better place, that is the forehead; at a better time, that is when one has already been made clean; by greater persons, that is by the bishop (and at the time of the apostles by the apostles alone); and for greater purpose, that is for strength. Therefore the sacrament of confirmation is greater than the sacrament of baptism. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is given in confirmation for strength, and is given to children. Therefore they then receive an increase of virtues. Some would say that baptism is better, because it is more useful than confirmation. But confirmation is better and worthier and more precious—As water is more useful than wine, but wine is worthier and more excellent (Sentences 5:9).[24]
Robert Pulleyn shared the same thought:        
But it is believable that the glory of eternal life granted earlier may be increased afterwards by the imposition of the hands of the Lord or of his minister. And confirmation is more worthy than baptism, as it is worthier to become an athlete than to be cured from sickness. That sacrament heals while this one nurtures healing. For this reason confirmation is now given only by a bishop, as also it was given at the time of the apostles. Confirmation therefore is given by the imposition of the hands of the bishop, as Eucharist is accomplished by the      consecrating presbyter. As it is obtained with more difficulty, so it is reckoned more precious. Indeed among the sacraments which we acquire with a certain difficulty, it is more worthy and less necessary. For when a sacrament has something less of difficulty, it obtains something more of necessity (Eight Books of Sentences 5:22f).[25]
The idea that Confirmation provided strength for the fight found ritual expression the in the Pontifical of William Durandus at the end of the thirteenth century.  After the chrismation by the bishop Durandus added, “And then he gives him a light blow (alpa) on the cheek saying, ‘Peace be with you.’”[26]   This slap imitated the ceremony of knighthood and furthered the martial understanding of Confirmation.  Durandus explained:
The bishop then does two things. First, he anoints the forehead; second, he strikes the person on the face. The oil signifies the anointing of grace in regard to  the bold acts of undertaking those things which concern the faith. The strike is done so that from now on one may not be embarrassed or fear to confess the  name of Christ, as if the bishop should say to the one confirmed: “Be so strong that whoever strikes you like this or causes you confusion in some other way because you confess the faith of Christ, you may not be embarrassed by all these things. For those struck on the face are usually embarrassed.” In certain places for the same reasons it is done the same way to new knights (Explanation of the Divine Offices 6:84,1.6.8).[27]
V. Thomas Aquinas
In Thomas Aquinas we find the same medieval themes that have been discussed thus far.  However, because of the enormous influence of his Summa Theologiae, it will be helpful to consider this writing in more detail.  Aquinas starts with the question of whether Confirmation is a sacrament.  He begins by stating the objection, “It seems that Confirmation is not a sacrament. For sacraments derive their efficacy from the Divine institution, as stated above.  But we read nowhere of Confirmation being instituted by Christ. Therefore it is not a sacrament” (IIIa.72.1.arg 1).[28]

Aquinas immediately concedes that there has been a diversity of opinion on this: 
Concerning the institution of this sacrament there are three opinions. Some have maintained that this sacrament was instituted neither by Christ, nor by the apostles; but later in the course of time by one of the councils. Others held that it was instituted by the apostles. But this cannot be admitted; since the institution of a new sacrament belongs to the power of excellence, which belongs to Christ alone ( 1).
He disagrees with these and instead argues that Christ instituted Confirmation not by a direct act, but instead by promise
And therefore we must say that Christ instituted this sacrament not by bestowing, but by promising it, according to Jn. 16:7: "If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you, but if I go, I will send Him to you." And this was because in this sacrament the fulness of the Holy Ghost is bestowed, which was not to be given before   Christ's Resurrection and Ascension; according to Jn. 7:39: "As yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" ( 1).
Mitchell notes that, “Prior to Thomas, most medieval theologians tried to seek a scriptural justification for confirmation in Old Testament examples of anointing, especially in the three references to David’s anointing found in I and II Books of Samuel.”[29]  In his own day the more common view “was that confirmation was not instituted directly by Christ, but indirectly by the apostles.  Such worthies as Roland Blandinelli, later Pope Alexander III, and Bonaventure supported this position, as did lesser luminaries such as William of Auxerre.”[30]  

Instead, Aquinas maintained that Christ bestowed the reality of the sacrament (res) without the sacrament itself: 
Christ, by the power which He exercises in the sacraments, bestowed on the apostles the reality of this sacrament (rem huius sacramenti), i.e. the fulness of the Holy Ghost (idest plenitudem spiritus sancti), without the sacrament itself,because they had received "the first fruits of the Spirit" (Rm. 8:23). Nevertheless, something of keeping with the matter of this sacrament was displayed to the  apostles in a sensible manner when they received the Holy Ghost” ( 1).
Aquinas provides a number of reasons by chrism is an appropriate matter (materia) for the sacrament of Confirmation (IIIa.72.2).  However the final authority cited as justification for using chrism is Gregory the Great (Registrum IV.9): “On the contrary, Gregory says (Registr. iv): ‘Let no priest dare to sign the baptized infants on the brow with the sacred chrism.’ Therefore chrism is the matter of this sacrament” (  Aquinas also cites Pseudo-Dionysius as justification for the claim that the apostles used chrism: “However, the apostles commonly made use of chrism in bestowing the sacrament, when such like visible signs were lacking. For Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iv): ‘There is a certain perfecting operation which our guides,’ i.e. the apostles, ‘call the sacrifice of Chrism’” ( 1).

Aquinas explains the sacrament in terms of matter (materia) and form (forma).  The matter is chrism and the form is “I sign you with the sign of the cross. I confirm you with the chrism of salvation.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen” (IIIa.72.4.arg 1).  The authority of the Church’s practice provides the justification for this: “On the contrary, Is the authority of the Church, who always uses this form” (  Aquinas maintains that this is an example of the Church continuing an apostolic practice that is not recorded in Scripture:
As stated above sometimes the effect of this sacrament, i.e. the fulness of the Holy Ghost, was given through the ministry of the apostles, under certain visible signs, wrought miraculously by God, Who can bestow the sacramental effect, independently of the sacrament. In these cases there was no need for either the matter or the form of this sacrament. On the other hand, sometimes they bestowed this sacrament as ministers of the sacraments. And then, they used both matter and form according to Christ's command. For the apostles, in conferring the sacraments, observed many things which are not handed down in those Scriptures that are in general use ( 1).
In describing the benefits of Confirmation, Aquinas turns to the text of “Faustus of Riez’s” homily – which he knows from the authorities Gratian and Peter Lombard (via Pseudo-Isidore’s False Decretals) as coming from “Pope Melchiades.”  He writes:
And thence it is that besides the movement of generation whereby man receives life of the body, there is the movement of growth, whereby man is brought to the perfect age (motus augmenti perducitur ad perfectam aetatem). So therefore does man receive spiritual life in Baptism, which is a spiritual regeneration: while in Confirmation man arrives at the perfect age, as it were, of the spiritual life (aetatem perfectam spiritualis vitae). Hence Pope Melchiades says: "The Holy Ghost, Who comes down on the waters of Baptism bearing salvation in His flight, bestows at the font, the fulness of innocence; but in Confirmation He confers an increase of grace (augmentum praestat ad gratiam). In Baptism we are born   again unto life; after Baptism we are strengthened (roboramur)." And therefore it is evident that Confirmation is a special sacrament (
Mitchell notes that: 
it is clear that Aquinas depended upon Melchiades’ so-called “Letter to the Spanish Bishops” as a major source for some of his most seminal ideas concerning the origin, nature and interpretation of the sacrament. Indeed, it was from the spurious text of Melchiades that Thomas obtained two central ideas in his confirmation repertoire: the notion of “increase” or “fullness” (augmentum, plenitudo) and the notion of “grace for strengthening” (gratia ad robur).[31] 
This strengthening through Confirmation equips the believer for the fight of the Christian life.  In discussing the proper form of Confirmation (“I sign you … etc.), Aquinas states:
Now as is evident from what has been already said in this sacrament the Holy Ghost is given for strength in the spiritual combat (ad robur spiritualis pugnae). Wherefore in this sacrament three things are necessary; and they are contained in the above form. The first of these is the cause conferring fulness of spiritual strength which cause is the Blessed Trinity: and this is expressed in the words, "In the name of the Father," etc. The second is the spiritual strength itself  bestowed on man unto salvation by the sacrament of visible matter; and this is referred to in the words, "I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation." The third is   the sign which is given to the combatant (pugnatori), as in a bodily combat (pugna corporali): thus are soldiers marked with the sign of their leaders. And to this refer the words, "I sign thee with the sign of the cross," in which sign, to wit, our King triumphed (cf. Col. 2:15) (
“Faustus” homily, cited as coming from the fictitious “Pope Melchiades” (along with Chrysostom; 3) is a major source of this idea as well.  In Article VIII as Aquinas discusses the question of whether the sacrament of Confirmation should be given to all he quotes the “pope” twice (where the objections cite something that is regarded to be true):
Objection 3: Further, as Pope Melchiades says (Ep. ad Episc. Hispan.) "after Baptism we are strengthened for the combat (confirmamur ad pugnam)." But  women are incompetent to combat, by reason of the frailty of their sex. Therefore neither should women receive this sacrament.

Objection 4: Further, Pope Melchiades says (Ep. ad Episc. Hispan.): "Although the benefit of Regeneration suffices for those who are on the point of death, yet the graces of Confirmation are necessary for those who are to conquer. Confirmation arms and strengthens those to whom the struggles and combats of this world (ad agones mundi huius et praelia) are reserved. And he who comes to die, having kept unsullied the innocence he acquired in Baptism, is confirmed by death; for after death he can sin no more (IIIa.72.8.arg 2; arg 3).
Aquinas also includes the statement that is falsely attributed to Urban I about Confirmation being necessary to make individuals full Christians.  He uses it in explaining why only bishops can confer Confirmation (IIIa.72.11).  He writes:
And this sacrament of Confirmation is, as it were, the final completion of the sacrament of Baptism (quasi ultima consummatio sacramenti Baptismi); in the sense that by Baptism man is built up into a spiritual dwelling, and is written like a   spiritual letter; whereas by the sacrament of Confirmation, like a house already built, he is consecrated as a temple of the Holy Ghost, and as a letter already written, is signed with the sign of the cross. Therefore the conferring of this sacrament is reserved to bishops, who possess supreme power in the Church: just as in the primitive Church, the fulness of the Holy Ghost was given by the apostles, in whose place the bishops stand. Hence Pope Urban I says: "All the faithful should. after Baptism, receive the Holy Ghost by the imposition of the bishop's hand, that they may become perfect Christians” (
This statement handed on from Pseudo-Isisore’s False Decretals was the source of a challenge for medieval theologians.  Mitchell observes that, “It was a common medieval objection that baptized, but unconfirmed persons were not ‘full Christians.’ Since, however, even the most hardened theologians shrank from the idea that baptized people were somehow not fully Christian, they began to distinguish various types of ‘fulness.’”[32] So, for example, Alexander of Hales distinguished between the “fullness of sufficiency” and the “fullness of abundance.”[33] 

Aquinas also adopts this language of plentitude.  He describes Confirmation as the “sacrament of fullness of grace” (sacramentum plenitudinis gratiae) and explains this fullness using an analogy with the growth of the body.  Confirmation brings about spiritual growth that brings a person to the “perfect spiritual age”:
Now it has been said above that, just as Baptism is a spiritual regeneration unto Christian life, so also is Confirmation a certain spiritual growth bringing man to perfect spiritual age (spirituale augmentum promovens hominem in spiritualem aetatem perfectam). But it is evident, from a comparison with the life of the body, that the action which is proper to man immediately after birth, is different from the action which is proper to him when he has come to perfect age. And therefore by the sacrament of Confirmation man is given a spiritual power in respect of sacred actions other than those in respect of which he receives power in Baptism. For in Baptism he receives power to do those things which pertain to his own salvation, forasmuch as he lives to himself: whereas in Confirmation he receives power to do those things which pertain to the spiritual combat with the enemies of the Faith (
Aquinas maintains that it is not a different grace that is given in Confirmation, but rather Confirmation increases what was already there:  “If, then, we consider, in its wide sense, the grace bestowed in this sacrament, it does not differ from that bestowed in Baptism, but increases what was already there. On the other hand, if we consider it as to that which is added over and above, then one differs in species from the other” ( 3).

Through this increase, Confirmation takes the spiritual birth that occurs in baptism and advances the individual to the perfect spiritual age.  This perfect spiritual age describes the soul which is immortal. Therefore it does not correlate to the chronology of human life.  Instead, Aquinas maintains: “Now the soul, to which spiritual birth and perfect spiritual age belong, is immortal; and just as it can in old age attain to spiritual birth, so can it attain to perfect (spiritual) age in youth or childhood; because the various ages of the body do not affect the soul” ( Since “the age of the body does not affect the soul,” “even in childhood man can attain to the perfection of spiritual age” ( 2).

Aquinas’ thought about these aspects of Confirmation “and its relation to baptism totally dominated the theological arena for centuries.”[34]  In fact, the Council of Florence’s (1438-1445) treatment of Confirmation almost quotes Aquinas word for word.  It states:
The second sacrament is confirmation; its matter is the chrism prepared from the oil, which signifies the excellence of conscience, and from the balsam, which signifies the fragrance of a good reputation, and is blessed by a bishop. The form is: I sign thee with the sign of the cross and I confirm thee with the chrism of salvation, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. The ordinary minister is a bishop. And although a simple priest has the power in  regard to other anointings only a bishop can confer this sacrament, because  according to the apostles, whose place the bishops hold, we read that through the imposition of hands they conferred the Holy Spirit, just as the lesson of the  Acts of the Apostles reveals: "Now, when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that the Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come, prayed for them that they might  receive the Holy Ghost. For He was not as yet come upon any of them: but they  were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them; and they received the Holy Ghost" [Acts 8:14 ff.]. But in the Church   confirmation is given in place of this imposition of hands. Nevertheless we read  that at one time, by dispensation of the Apostolic See for a reasonable and urgent cause, a simple priest administered this sacrament of confirmation after the chrism had been prepared by the bishop. The effect of this sacrament, because in it the Holy Spirit is given for strength, was thus given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, so that the Christian might boldly confess the name of Christ. The one to be confirmed, therefore, must be anointed on the forehead,  which is the seat of reverence, so that he may not be ashamed to confess the name of Christ and especially His Cross, which is indeed a "stumbling block to the Jews and unto the Gentiles foolishness" [cf.1 Cor. 1:23] according to the Apostle; for which reason one is signed with the sign of the Cross.[35]
VI. Conclusion  
As the sixteenth century was about to dawn, scholastic theological reflection upon the sacrament of Confirmation had been expressed in conciliar form and authority. Confirmation was defined in terms of matter (chrism) and form (I sign you with….).  It was administered by the bishop on the forehead and it bestowed the Spirit in a new and additional way that granted strength to the believer for living the Christian life and confessing the faith. 

While this was a clear and precise explanation of Confirmation, the reality of its practice was filled with variety and ambivalence.  There was a diversity of opinion as to when Confirmation should be received.  More troubling for the Church, there was a common tendency to ignore Confirmation as believers never received it.    

Previously in this series: The weird and wacky history of Confirmation, Part 8 - The bishop is separated from baptism

Next in this series: The weird and wacky history of Confirmation, Part 10 - The practice and problem of medieval Confirmation

[1] Cyrille Vogel, Medieval Liturgy: An Introduction to the Sources (Tr. and rev. William Storey and Niels Rasmussen; Washington, D.C.: The Pastoral Press, 1986), 230-239; Eric Palazzo, A History of Liturgical Books: From the Beginning to the Thirteenth Century (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1998), 201-207.
[2] Vogel, Medieval Liturgy, 232 (emphasis original).
[3] Paul Turner, Ages of Initiation: The First Two Christian Millenia (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2000), 26.
[4] Gerard Austin, The Rite of Confirmation: Anointing with the Spirit (New York: Pueblo Publishing Co; 1985), 21.
[5] Austin, The Rite of Confirmation, 22.
[6] Maxwell E. Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation (rev. and exp.; Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2007), 250.
[7] Susan A. Keefe, Water and the Word: Baptism and the Education of the Clergy in the Carolingian Empire Vol II Editions of Texts (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), 238.
[8] Susan A. Keefe, Water and the Word: Baptism and the Education of the Clergy in the Carolingian Empire Vol. 1 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), 80.  Keefe reports that it is connected with Alcuin “because in its earliest manuscripts it is contained in two letters of Alcuin, one to monks in Septimania and one to a priest name Oduin, both written circa 798.  Whether Alcuin himself composed ‘Primo paganus’ at the time of the letters, or only incorporated it into them, he certainly endorsed its description of baptism” (Water and the Word Vol. 1, 80).
[9] Keefe, Water and the Word Vol. 1, 82.
[10] J.D.C. Fisher, Christian Initiation: Baptism in the Medieval West – A Study in the Disintegration of the Primitive Rite of Initiation (Chicago: HillenbrandBooks, 2004), 65.
[11] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 6.8 The Ministry of Bishops.
[12] Fisher, Christian Initiation, 68.
[13] Gabriele Winkler, “Confirmation or Chrismation? A Study in Comparative Liturgy” in Living Water, Sealing Spirit: Readings on Christian Initiation [ed. Maxwell E. Johnson; Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1995] 202-218, 214-215; Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation, 184, ftnt. 48. 
[14] E.C. Whitaker, Documents of the Baptismal Liturgy (rev. and ed. Maxwell E. Johnson; Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2003), 257-258 (hereafter DBL).
[15] “False Decretals,” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3d ed.; F.L.Cross and E.A. Livingstone; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 598.
[16] “Isidore Mercator,” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3d ed.; F.L.Cross and E.A. Livingstone; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 852.
[17] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 6.10 No Confirmation.
[18] Fisher, Baptism in the Medieval West, 140-141; “False Decretals,” 598.
[19]Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation, 253; Fisher, Baptism in the Medieval West, 140-141;
[20] Austin, The Rite of Confirmation, 26.
[21] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 7.8 Confirmation: Age and Meaning.
[22] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 7.8 Confirmation: Age and Meaning.
[23] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 8.11 Confirmation: Age and Meaning.
[24] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 7.8 Confirmation: Age and Meaning.
[25] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 7.10 No Confirmation. 
[26] Austin, The Rite of Confirmation, 26.
[27] Turner, Ages of Initiation, CD-ROM source excerpts, 8.10 The Confirmation Ministry of Bishops.
[28] Translation of Summa Theologiae is from XXXXXXXXX
[29] Nathan D. Mitchell, “Dissolution of the Rite of Christian Initiation” in Made, Not Born: New Perspectives on Christian Initiation and the Catechumenate (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1976) 50-82, 66.
[30] Mitchell, “Dissolution of the Rite of Christian Initiation,” 66.
[31] Mitchell, “Dissolution of the Rite of Christian Initiation,” 67.
[32] Mitchell, “Dissolution of the Rite of Christian Initiation,” 68.
[33] Fisher, Baptism in the Medieval West, 143.
[34] Austin, The Rite of Confirmation, 27.
[35] Henry Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (tr. Roy J. Deferrari; St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1955), para. 697.


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