International Institute of Genealogical Studies


International Institute of Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church

Religious Records cover a wide variety of documents. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies offers several courses covering this topic. (See this blog post about our Religious Records courses.) It is important to become familiar with the religious records relevant to the region and specific time period where you are researching. Records for the same denomination could be different depending on location and the local laws and regulations, even within the same country.

As we continue to look at the Italian: Catholic Church Records-Part 2 course, we find that Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church is covered in Module 2. Here is a portion of what will be discussed.

A 1564 decree made marriage in the Roman Catholic Church a sacrament. This was reinforced by Papal proclamation in 1595. The requirements for marriage, as dictated by the Council of Trent, were:

  • Marriage was a sacrament and Church business
  • Couples had to have parental consent, appear with parents/guardians
  • Couples could not be forced into marriage, must have free choice
  • Marriage must be performed in front of two witness

Additionally, within parish marriage records, you will sometimes find registers for the Stato Libero (statement of free status) or Sponsati Contratti (marriage engagements/contracts). These records were for marriage engagements/contracts to be performed elsewhere, and for stating that the bride or groom was free to marry. The following is an example of this type of document.

Statement of Free Status – Francesco d’Averzo & nine-year-old Michela Pizzolato, Catania, Italy

Note: Italy has laws concerning privacy restrictions like any other country. Italian privacy law extends for 70 years after the creation of a birth record, and 50 years from the date of the event on a death or marriage record. A priest will usually follow the privacy laws when determining whether you can access the records.

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.

Visit our website for a complete list of online courses offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. Check our Course Calendar here.
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