Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Question from Ally - Age to be a godparent

Mary I is recorded as having been made godmother to her cousin Frances Brandon; however, Mary was one year old when her cousin was baptized. Was there no requirement at the time that a godparent be at least 16, or was an exception made because of Mary's royal heritage?

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

At the time at which Frances Brandon was christened in July 1517, Roman Catholic canon law still governed the church in England. Modern Roman canon law does specify sixteen years as the minimum age for a person to stand as a sponsor (i.e., godparent) at a Catholic christening. But canon law of the sixteenth century required only that a sponsor should be "of the age of reason" and capable of discerning right from wrong in matters of morality. Traditionally, an individual reached the "age of reason" at seven years.

In the specific instance of the christening of Frances Brandon, Mary Tudor was a secondary sponsor. The primary female sponsor was Queen Katherine, a mature adult, in full compliance with contemporary canon law. So long as the primary sponsors are chosen consistent with canon law, some flexibility might be allowed among the secondary ones.