Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 17 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Hildegard of Bingen
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

A quick intro to the Sacrament of Confirmation


Marinella Bandini - published on 08/10/21

Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints an indelible spiritual seal on a Christian's soul

Confirmation perfects baptismal grace in us, asking us to confirm it.

For this reason, it’s important to take care that our young people receive this sacrament and receive the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis

With Baptism, we become “new creations.” With Confirmation, the Spirit unites us more closely to Christ and the Church through His gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

Without Confirmation, Baptism is still valid and efficacious, but Christian initiation remains incomplete.

A promise from of old

In the Old Testament the prophets said that the Holy Spirit would be given to the Messiah and to all the people of Israel.

The descent of the Spirit on Jesus after his Baptism in the Jordan indicated that He was the Messiah.

The apostles received the Spirit on Pentecost and from that moment on they laid their hands on the newly baptized to invoke the Spirit upon them.

The sacrament’s beginning

The Church identifies this gesture as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation. This is why the celebrant of Confirmation is always the bishop or his delegate.

Until the 5th century, Confirmation was celebrated together with Baptism. As the tradition of baptizing infants became more popular, in the West the two sacraments
became separated. Confirmation was moved to the age of discernment, around the age of 12 or older.

This sacrament is called Confirmation because it confirms and strengthens baptismal grace.

It can also be called “Chrismation” derived from the word “chrism,” the oil used in this sacrament.

The heart of the sacrament is the anointing of confirmand on the forehead with the sacred chrism and the imposition of hands while reciting the form: Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Chrism is a perfumed oil which every bishop consecrates for his own diocese on Holy Thursday each year.

In the Old Testament, it was used to consecrate kings, priests, and prophets, but also the shields used to defend the people of God and the Tabernacle.

Today, chrism is used in Confirmation and the ordination of bishops, as well as to anoint the altar and walls when a church is consecrated.

Strengthened for battle

Confirmation also makes us “soldiers” of Jesus: the Spirit gives us special strength to bear witness to the faith.

This was symbolized by the ritual of the “slap,” a gesture taken from the military: prior to the liturgical reform (though some places still keep this tradition) the bishop would gently slap the cheek of the confirmandi, sending them into the world to “fight” for the faith.

Confirmation, like Baptism, imprints an indelible spiritual seal on a Christian’s soul; this is why we can only receive it once in our lifetime.


Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.