Sacramental information is always recorded in a bound paper register at the parish where the sacrament occurs in accordance with Church Law (CC 535). These registers are actively updated as new sacraments are celebrated with additions and notations. Each church is required to keep a register of baptisms, marriages, and deaths/funerals that occur there. Some parishes also keep registers of first communions and confirmations. Entries are usually organized in the chronological order that they happened. The parish of parochial responsibility is required to maintain sacramental information for all its subsidiary missions. Sometimes, missions have their own designated registers and sometimes mission sacraments are recorded in the books of the managing parish.
How to Request a Sacramental Certificate from the Archives & Records Management Office (A&RM)
Church Law requires each parish to maintain its own secure archive and to safeguard sacramental registers in perpetuity (CC 535 §4-5). Sacramental certificates are routinely created with information found in parish registers. When looking for your sacramental certificate, please check the parish where the sacrament occurred first.
The Archives & Records Management Office (A&RM) will sometimes receive old historical or delicate books that require additional care. If that is the case for your sacramental information (the parish will direct you), please don’t hesitate to contact us directly (email@example.com). All requests for sacramental certificates must be submitted using a Sacramental Certificate Request Form with a valid form of identity that includes a photograph and signature. No fee is required. Pastors and/or authorized Diocesan staff may waive this requirement if the requestor is personally known. No sacramental requests are accepted over the phone or via e-mail unless they come from authorized personnel such as Diocesan or parish staff. A&RM searches take between 4 and 6 weeks to complete.
While certificates must be requested by the individual on whom the sacrament was conferred, they may also be requested on their behalf by a legal guardian with proof of parentage or guardianship; by an executor or direct descent with a death certificate and will, or proof of relationship (usually a birth certificate); or by court order. The A&RM does not routinely release certificates for sacraments conferred 100 years or less to third party requestors.
Unfortunately, the Diocese does not have a comprehensive list of every person who received a sacrament at all our churches. If you need help determining your sacrament’s location, the A&RM can help you narrow it down using your address at the time and the approximate date, however sometimes it is necessary to complete an affidavit concerning the sacrament. Please contact your pastor for more information about completing an affidavit.
Sacramental Information for Genealogy Purposes
Sacramental records are both private and public in nature. When recorded, they were presumed to be private and confidential between the Church and the sacrament’s recipient. However, their public nature comes from their ability to serve as valid and authentic evidence in civil law when a suitable civil record does not exist.
To request historical genealogy information, please complete a Sacramental Information Request Form and mail a copy of your state issued ID with a photo and signature, along with a check, cashier’s check, or money order to: Diocese of St. Augustine Attn: Fiscal, 11625 Old St. Augustine Road Jacksonville, FL 32258.
In compliance with state Vital Statistics laws for the State of Florida the A&RM will only release sacramental information older than 100 years. No Sacramental Certificates will be issued for genealogy purposes.
Digitized Sacramental Records Available Online
In 2012, the Diocese of St. Augustine collaborated with Dr. J. Michael Francis and the University of South Florida to digitize our earliest Parish Registers which date from 1594 – 1821. Until 1735, St. Augustine’s parish priests recorded people of all backgrounds in the same sacramental books. Most of the archive’s handwritten documents are in Spanish, with several hundred pages of its sacramental entries recorded in Latin, as well as some nineteenth-century English.
As of November 2022, those sacraments are available online through La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archives of the Americas as the Lost Voices project. Click on the “Enter the Virtual Archive” button to browse or search all 8,258 pages of transcribed, translated, and indexed sacramental information for 1594 through the mid-19th century. Low resolution images may also be found through the Slave Societies Digital Archives, directed by Dr. Jane Landers and hosted by Vanderbilt University.
Images may be used for personal research or educational purposes with the credit line, “Image courtesy of the Diocese of St. Augustine and La Florida: The Interactive Digital Archives of the Americas” or “Image courtesy of the Diocese of St. Augustine and the Slave Societies Digital Archives.” For publication permissions, please contact the Diocese of St. Augustine Archives & Records Management Office (firstname.lastname@example.org).