How to use the baptism records

In the last several posts I’ve been diving into the history of specific families in  the towns of Nocciano and Civitaquana and posting a few of the actual church records – baptism, death, census, marriage records – that I dug up on my trip to Italy in November.

I thought I’d take a second to explain exactly how to read a baptism record and extract the necessary information. As if reading Italian records wasn’t enough of a challenge, half of these records are in Latin, which I’ve been lucky enough to have studied closely since 7th grade.

Here are a few examples:


The parents in this record are my 6th-great-grandparents. This is a good example of a baptism record in Italian, here’s the transcription:

A dì 17 Marzo 1766
Maria Ant.a fig.a leg:ma, e natle di Felice Palûbo,
e di Susanna Napolione, nata in quest’oggi
sù le hore 17, fù battezzata da mè infratto Abb:te
Curato, e tenuta al Sagro Fonte da Bernardi-
na di Amario. Ostetrice Santa Palûbo. In fede
D. Carmine de Paschinis Abb:te Cur:to m: ppa:

The first date in a baptism record is the DATE OF BAPTISM (17 Mar 1766). Don’t confuse this with the date of birth. Sometimes it’s on the same day; sometimes it’s not. Here it says “nata in quest’oggi su le hore 17” (born on this day at hour 17), so in this case, the baptism happened on the same day as the birth.

In an Italian record, the FIRST NAME of the child usually comes right up front – here it’s Maria Antonia. It says she’s the “figlia legitima e naturale” (abbreviated in the record), which means “legitimate and natural child”. A child born out of wedlock would be “natural” but not “legitimate”, so that record would say “figlia naturale”.

Then it lists the PARENTS (Felice Palumbo and Susanna Napolione). Sometimes we’re lucky and the record will have the parents’ fathers (or even grandfathers’) names. It also gives the name of the person who held the child in the holy water (Bernardina d’Amario) and the midwife (Santa Palumbo). The priest’s name was D. Carmine de Paschinis.


This is a Latin baptism record:

Die duodecima Januarii 1789
Ego infraptus baptizavi infantem natam die qua supra ex conjugibus
Vincentio de Leonardo Ranalli, et Birgitta de Andrea de San-
tedicola, cui impositum fuit nomen Antonia. E sacro fonte su-
scepit Petronilla de Joanne Antonio. Obstetrix vero Antonia Cas-
sielli. In fidem Dominicus Ciotti Econ.s Cur.tus

Again the date of baptism is given at the top (“duodecima Januarii 1789” = 12 Jan 1789), and it says she was “natam die qua supra” (born on the day here above), meaning born on the same day as the baptism.

Parents were Vincenzo ([son] of Leonardo Ranalli) and Brigida ([daughter] of Andrea de Santedicola). The child was given the “nomen” (name) Antonia. The person holding Antonia in the holy water was Petronilla di Giovannantonio and the midwife was Antonia Cassielli.

Lastly, an example of a record with different baptism and birth dates:IMG_4351
Here you can see the baptism date (“Die quinta mensis Julii 1789” = 5 Jul 1789), and then it says “natum post solis occasum diei praecedentis” (born after the setting of the sun of the preceding day = 4 Jul 1789).

We also have some extra information about the mother here (“…et Annantonia dè Petro dè Nicolao-Antonio dè Profio). The mother was Annantonia di Profio, her father was Pietro di Profio, and her grandfather was Nicolantonio di Profio. These are all Civitaquana baptism records – too bad the Nocciano records aren’t nearly as helpful with the parents’ families.

Happy translating!

– Anthony

One thought on “How to use the baptism records”

  1. I have researched my Trabucco family in Civitaquana and have consulted the parish records finding several family birth, marriage and death records. But stupidly I failed to write the name of the parish church. Can you tell me the name of the Civitaquana parish church during the 1700s? Thank you so much. I really appreciate any help you can give me.

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