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years old and more than five years a professed, can be elected. An election contrary to these rules is invalid. For clothing with the religious habit or entrance into the novitiate no special age was fixed by decretal law. Clement VIII (Cure ad Regularem, 19 March, 1603) decreed that the constitution of each community should be the guide. He directed, however, that lay brothers and lay sisters should not be admitted before their twentieth year. The Sacred Congregation of the Council (16 July, 1632; 7 April, 1634) forbade the reception of novices until they attained their fifteenth year. The Congregation of Bishops and Regulars (23 May, 1659) prohibited the clothing with the habit before the completion of the fifteenth year. The same Congregation (Normæ de Novis Institutis, 28 June, 1901) decreed that no one could be admitted under fifteen, or over thirty, years of age without dispensation from the Holy See. For religious profession the Council of Trent (Sess. xxv, cap. 15) exacted sixteen years complete with one year's novitiate necessarily preceding. The latest enactment, prescribing simple Vows for three continuous years after the novitiate before solemn profession, fixes the age for solemn profession at nineteen years complete. This applies to women (Congr. of Bishops and Regulars, 3 May, 1902) as well as to men. It is forbidden to postpone the solemn profession of men, who have been under simple vows for three years, beyond the full twenty-fifth year of their age, except in some localities and institutes, e.g. the Society of Jesus, in which the profession of simple vows is continued for a much longer term of years than three.

Ordinary Christian Life.—No certain age is fixed for baptism; yet the Holy Office (30 July, 1771) forbids the postponement of infant baptism beyond the third day. According to early ecclesiastical discipline confirmation and Holy Communion were administered to infants after baptism. Today, twelve years is generally recommended for confirmation; but, if urgent reasons exist for not awaiting that age, it is expedient not to confirm before the age of reason, i.e. seven years (Roman Catechism; Holy Office, 11 December, 1850; Second Conc. Balt., V, c. iii, 252). Leo XIII commended Robert, Bishop of Marseilles, for introducing the custom of confirming before Holy Communion (22 June, 1897). For confession the age is seven years, i.e. the age of reason, when a child is generally supposed to be capable of mortal sin and bound by the law of annual confession [Conc. Lat., c. 21; Second Conc. Balt., tit. ix; First Plenary Conc. of S. America (Rome, 1899), tit. V, cap. 4]. Children should receive Holy Communion when they have attained the age of discretion (Innocent III in Conc. Lat., c. 21). There is much controversy as to what that age precisely is. According to some, it ordinarily occurs between the tenth and fourteenth year (Suarez, quoted by Benedict XIV, "Syn. Dioc.," VII, xii, 3; Raimundi, "Inst. Past.," tit. I, cap. iv, n. 57; Zitelli, Apparatus Jur. Pont. p. 319, no. 4; Second Plen. Conc. Balt., tit. V); others, e.g. Ferraris (I, 154, n. 39), place it between eleven and twelve years. Children in danger of death, capable of committing and making confession of mortal sin, and of distinguishing the heavenly from the ordinary food, and desiring to receive Holy Communion, must not be denied it, although they may not have reached the minimum year mentioned (Roman Catechism, de Euch., n. 63; Second Plen. Conc. Balt., and First Plen. Conc. of South America, loc. cit.). Extreme unction is to be administered to a child of seven years or younger, capable of sin. Children of seven years complete are bound by the laws of abstinence and of hearing Mass. They can also be sponsors in the conferring of baptism and confirmation; but the Roman Ritual (tit. II, n. 24) says that it is more expedient that they should be fourteen years old and also confirmed. The Congregations of Propaganda (4 May, 1774) and the Holy Office (1 July, 1882) forbid children under fourteen years of age to act as sponsors at confirmation. Only those who have completed their twenty-first year are bound to fast. Betrothals [sponsalia] require seven full years in the contracting parties. The marriageable age is fourteen full years in males and twelve full years in females, under penalty of nullity (unless natural puberty supplies the want of years). Marriages void because of the absence of legal or natural puberty are held as sponsalia, inducing thereby impediment of "public decorum" (Cap. 14, tit. de despon. impub., X, 4, 2). Civil codes generally require a more advanced age than the canonical. Dispensations, however, as to the required ages are expressly granted by France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Roumania, and Russia. The marriageable age in France, Italy, Belgium, and Roumania is eighteen for men, and fifteen for women (France requires also, under penalty of nullity, the consent of parents); Holland, Switzerland, Russia (Caucasian Provinces excepted), fifteen and thirteen; and Hungary fixes the age at eighteen and sixteen; Austria, fourteen for both parties; Denmark, twenty and sixteen; Germany, twenty-one (minors set free by parents at eighteen) and sixteen years respectively. Marriages contracted in Germany below the ages aforesaid are valid but illicit. In India natives marry under canonical age. So also in China, where there is a further deviation from canonical age, owing to the Chinese method of reckoning age by lunar rather than solar years (thirteen lunar months make a solar year). The canonical age holds in England, Spain, Portugal, Greece (Ionian Isles excepted, where it is sixteen and fourteen), and as regards Catholics even in Austria. While in some parts of the United States the canonical marriage age of fourteen and twelve still prevails, in others it has been enlarged by statutes. Such statutes, however, as a rule, do not make void marriages contracted by a male and female of fourteen and twelve years respectively, unless the statute expressly forbids them under penalty of nullity. The English Common Law age of fourteen in males and twelve in females prevails in all the Canadian provinces, with the exception of Ontario and Manitoba. Ontario requires fourteen years, and Manitoba sixteen years, in both parties. Marriages contracted at more youthful ages than these are not irreparably null and void. They can be, and are, ratified by continued cohabitation after the prescribed age. In all the provinces consent of parents or guardians is required where one or both of the parties have not attained a certain age.—Ontario, Manitoba, and New Brunswick, eighteen years; in Quebec, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, and Saskatchewan the age is twenty-one. Except in the case of Quebec and Prince Edward Island such consent is only directory, and does not affect the validity of marriage after celebration. Such marriages in the former province are not void, and can only be attacked by parties whose consent is required; in the latter province they are null and void by virtue of a pre-confederation law of 1831. The marriage law in nearly every part of the United States requires the consent of parents before license is granted to minors. Such statutes are merely directive, and do not render void marriages without the parents' consent ("American and English Encyclopedia of Law/Marriage). Neither in England is a marriage declared void for want of parental consent (Brown, Hist. Matr. Inst., II, 191).

Ferraris, Bibliotheca, I, s. v. Ætas; Wernz, Jus Decret., II, de defec. ætatis, 142 sqq.; Idem., Jus Matrimoniale, IV de imped. ætatis, 457 sqq.; Santi-leitner, I, 119, nn. 8–12: