Religious Records are covered by several courses at The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. (See this blog post about our Religious Records courses.) One specific type of records to explore are Marriage Banns. You may think they were only used in the past, but they are still in use in today, although not as common. As we continue to look at the Italian: Catholic Church Records-Part 2 course, we find that Marriage Banns are covered in Module 2.
Marriage Banns were an attempt to curb clandestine or forced marriages. Canonical law stated the marriage banns, announcing an upcoming marriage, must be read from the pulpit on three consecutive holy days (Sunday mass or feast days) and, also posted on the door of the parish.
If the bride and groom were not from the same parish, banns would be posted and announced in both parishes. It was the priest’s responsibility to determine a couple’s residence in a certain place or quasi-residence (residing there part of the year, more than six months) so that the priest knew where the banns should be posted and read. He was required to keep a written record of the banns, as well as any requests for publication that he makes to other parishes.
The banns allowed parish members to bring forth any objections or impediments, either of affinity or consanguinity. A priest could not refuse the posting of the banns unless there was a reason, as defined by canon law. If no objections were found, the couple would then be married in front of their parents with a large celebration to follow.
Parents with limited financing and several children of marriageable age would often marry off two children at once, saving themselves the cost of a second marriage celebration. Always look at the record before and after to see if it might be for a sibling of the ancestor you are researching. Depending on the time period and region, there may or may not have been a subsequent civil marriage required.
You can explore more information about these records in the Italian: Catholic Church Records-Part 2 course, where we examine in detail the various forms of Italian marriages records that were created, and what genealogical information you may find in them.
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