I’m in the midst of a pile of marking and occasionally come across some interesting things in student papers. One of my students completed a major research project on the place of confirmation in her denomination. In her paper, she cites the following about the practices of confirmation in the medieval church. The context is that Bishops were expected to complete the act of confirmation, but this became increasingly difficult. Consequently:
The Episcopal action often became perfunctory; bishops often did their confirming while they were on their horses riding past confirmands who were lined up along the edge of the road (an outsider could sneak into the row and be confirmed.) The “good” bishop was the bishop who would actually get off his horse and lay both hands on each confirmand. [David R Holeton, “Confirmation in the 1980s” in Max Thurian, ed., Ecumenical Perspectives on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Geneva: World Council of Churches, Faith and Order Paper 116, 1983), 69]
And here we thought moderns had the corner on “efficiency” in ministry!