Spiritual Bonds, Social Bonds: Baptism and Godparenthood in Ireland, 1530–1690
Author: Tait, Clodagh
Source: Cultural and Social History, 1 September 2005, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 301-327(27)
Abstract:Though the ritual of baptism occasioned impassioned debates about its effects and performance in the early modern period, most Christian groups agreed on its necessity. It signified the incorporation of each individual into a broad spiritual family, symbolized by the provision of a set of godparents who were chosen to underline and extend bonds of friendship and bring families to the attention of influential patrons. This article provides as full a picture as possible, given the relative sparsity of available sources, of the ceremonies of baptism in use in Ireland between c. 1530 and 1690. Consideration of the role of baptism and godparenthood in creating and reinforcing social connections – often, given the level of migration into early modern Ireland, newly instituted connections – offers considerable potential for furthering our understanding of the dynamics of community life in a rapidly changing society. But these ceremonies might also reveal social and religious tensions, and the positive connotations of baptism and godparenthood might be tempered by their potential to highlight difference and promote ideas of denominational exclusivity and superiority.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Essex