Confirmation, in some churches a sacrament, in others a rite supplemental to baptism. Its history is traced to the apostles (Acts viii. and xix., Eph. xix., &c), who were wont to lay hands on neophytes and to pray in order that they might receive the Holy Ghost. In the succeeding ages, to "the imposition of hands" is found added the "chrismation," or anointing of the forehead with chrism. The entire rite came to be designated as "the sacrament of chrism," "the receiving of the cross," the "sign of the Lord," "the seal," and "the signing or sealing," consignatio. Hence the recipients were called consignati, "signed;" and the place in or near the baptistery, set apart for confirmation, was known as the con-signatorium. In the ancient sacramentary of Pope Gelasius (492), confirmation is ordered to be administered in this form: "The sign of Christ unto life eternal." The earliest use of the term itself occurs in the "Apostolic Constitutions " (B. III., c. 17), where "the chrism " is called conjirmatio confessionis, a sanction of the baptismal profession of faith. - In ancient times bishops administered confirmation immediately after baptism; both priests and bishops do so still in the Greek church; and in the Latin church bishops may and sometimes do confer both sacraments at once, even in the case of infants.
Priests can confirm only by delegation of the pope, in foreign missions, and during persecution, etc. - In Germany, where the reformation had discountenanced confirmation altogether, its use was restored by Spener, and the Lutheran and Reformed churches now practise it as a renewal of the baptismal covenant. The age for this is from 13 to 16. The church of England calls it "a solemn, ancient, and laudable custom, continued from the apostolic times," and fixes for the rite the age of from 16 to 18. This meets the wishes of the low church, who reject the sacramental virtue of confirmation; but high church men urge a much earlier age.