School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

Anthony Ruff, OSB

Subject Categories

History of Christianity | Liturgy and Worship


The sacraments of Reconciliation and Confirmation would be used today for a lapsed Roman Catholic to return to the church and for a non-Catholic Christian to be received into full communion with the church. These rites took centuries to develop; before these sacraments assumed the role that they have today, ritual elements of these sacraments were used to reconcile heretics and schismatics to the Church. In this paper, I examine the practices of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly before the year 700, discussing how water baptism, anointing with chrism, and receiving the Eucharist were prescribed at various times and places to admit or readmit heretics and schismatics to church membership. Of major concern is the topic of “rebaptizing” those who were baptized by schismatics or heretics, especially in the wake of Roman persecution before Constantine. While the church has never favored rebaptism, there were occasions when what was later regarded as “rebaptism” was considered to be a first baptism, and the only one validly conferred. I note how distinctions made at the ecumenical council of Constantinople in 381 become a model for the Church and contributed towards the development of a practice wherein anointing those validly baptized with chrism becomes normative. A few cases are also noted where the reception of the Eucharist is the only act marking the reconciliation of a Christian or group of Christians.



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