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Christian rite in which believers reaffirm the faith into which they were baptized as infants or young children. The rite admitting adults to full membership in the community of the faithful did not exist as a distinct ceremony in the early church but probably coincided with baptism, since those who joined did so as adults and were baptized after instruction. As baptism of infants became common, some means of ascertaining their knowledge and commitment as young adults became necessary. A period of instruction was introduced, after which the candidates were examined and confirmed. In Roman Catholicism confirmation became a sacrament, usually performed by a bishop. The rite is also used in the Anglican and Lutheran churches.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on confirmation, visit Britannica.com.