You are hereForums / Genealogy Research / Help With Explanation of Baptism Record

Help With Explanation of Baptism Record

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/lafamilia/ on line 123.

By rojasdelgado - Posted on 04 June 2020

Hello, I came accross a Baptismo Record while doing research and I don't believe I've ever seen this.

The record states in parenthesis "(a quien baptizo en caso de necesidad Don Antonio Marmolejo)." I know for a fact that this person is not a member of the clergy from researching thousands of records from this parish. Don Antonio Marmolejo is married and has children.

Was this a common practice? Allowing someone other than a priest to baptize children?

Here is the link: No. 305 left page

Ruben R


Right now I cannot see the image (it's not letting me open records), but I can think of two possible reasons. If there is a priest in the record, it could mean that Don Antonio Marmolejo presented the child to baptise because their parents were not available for whatever reason.

I assume there is no priest, so I would think the second reason: in Catholic religion, I understand that any person can baptise if the unbaptised person is dying. So perhaps the child (or adult even) was in grave danger or close to dying, and since they were unable to get them to the church in time they had to perform the baptism themselves, in order to save their soul (for if someoene dies unbaptised they can never enter Heaven).

Now, idk if there is another reason historically speaking. But religiously, I think this could be the case.

It is not a common practice, and typically it is only seen in the older records. When a newborn child was perceived to be at risk of dying, and a priest was not nearby (rural areas) it was permissible to place holy water on the child and say some prescribed words to baptize the child. I have seen where the same person is performing the "conditional" baptism, so I assume that a few people from each rancho is selected and instructed by the parish priest on how to perform the act.

Austin Pérez

Anna and Austin are correct: many people lived on ranchos, labores or haciendas, far from the town center, and because of the distances, clerics could not always be summoned in time. That’s why you’ll see on some burial records that the deceased didn’t receive last rites, “because of the suddenness of the illness.” In the case of newborns in danger of dying (“en caso de necesidad,” or “in articulo mortis”), if there wasn’t time to summon a priest, a lay person could perform an “emergency baptism,” who would’ve sprinkled holy water (“echar el agua”) and recited the correct biblical passages. If the child survived, the person who performed the baptism would be reviewed, to verify that he was a “capable person, and who knows the material and ways of this sacrament.” I suppose the baptism would later be completed, as the priest still had to anoint the child with “Santos Olios y Chrisma.”

I thought perhaps only pre-approved laypeople could perform these - I have an ancestor who owned an hacienda, and he performed several, and another who was a mayordomo on an hacienda, who also did several, but I also had an ancestor who was neither, yet he once baptized a child “in articulo mortis” in his own home (on the same day his own child was baptized "in articulo mortis" in the home of the mayordomo!).

Manny Diez Hermosillo

Thank you everyone,

Every response to my question makes perfect sense. The record does appear to be a completion of the baptism.

Ruben R

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


Who's online

There are currently 3 users and 7 guests online.

Online users

  • hfaizcorbe
  • arturoramos
  • jospuen