Must the water be poured three times for a valid Baptism?


I have witnessed several Baptisms in which the water was poured either once (continuously) or twice (one during “in the name of the Father”, and again for the rest of the formula). I thought the water had to be poured three times for the Sacrament to be valid. Are these valid Baptisms where the water is poured only one or two times, and if they are not valid, what should be done?


They are valid. No matter if water is poured once, poured twice, poured three times, sprinkled, immersed, or what have you, a baptism is valid if water is applied while saying “I baptize you in the Name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit”.


Thank you, TRH1292. Do you have a source or reference for this? Seems like everything I find says that the triple immersion/pouring/sprinkling is needed. See for example Catechism #1239


Valid, maybe…licit? No. Sprinkling is not a “licit” form of baptism.


On what do you base this?


Interesting question…



1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head.

1240 In the Latin Church this triple infusion is accompanied by the minister’s words: “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the Eastern liturgies the catechumen turns toward the East and the priest says: “The servant of God, N., is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” At the invocation of each person of the Most Holy Trinity, the priest immerses the candidate in the water and raises him up again.

Infusion = pouring
Immersion = dunking

Sprinkling for baptism would be valid, but ilicit. Which simply means against the norm. I cannot find the document I am looking for but if I do, I’ll post it.

the CCC also seems to indicate thet three “pours” or “dunks” are required as well.


It would need to be licit in countries where water is not plentiful enough to immerse a baptismal candidate, or if the baptism has to be done in secret as in places where Christianity is against the civil law. The Catechism covers Baptism beginning in paragraph 1213 and going to paragraph 1284


I have heard that in an emergency, such as at an accident, there does not have to be water at all. But what is vitally important is Baptizing a person “In the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” This must be stated.

As far as witnessing Baptisms I have seen the water poured continuously and poured three times, once at each Name of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


This is incorrect. Water must be used for a valid baptism. Water must flow on the skin in order for it to be a valid baptism.

See this for more details:


This is incorrect. Water must be used for a valid baptism:

Can. 849 Baptism, the gateway to the sacraments, is necessary for salvation, either by actual reception or at least by desire. By it people are freed from sins, are born again as children of God and, made like to Christ by an indelible character, are incorporated into the Church. It is validly conferred only by a washing in real water with the proper form of words.

Can. 854 Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion or by pouring, in accordance with the provisions of the Episcopal Conference.


I was baptized as a baptist and the pastor of the church submerged me once into the water. When I became Catholic, the church recognized this as a valid baptism. It is appropriate for the ceremony to pour three times to symbolize the Blessed Trinity, but all that is required is for the person conducting the baptism to say “I baptist you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” and that water is to be used. Of course, I invite anyone to let me know if any of what I said is inaccurate, but to my knowledge this is the teaching.


That was my experience being baptized at an Assembly of God, and when I became Catholic, they recognized me as having been validly baptized as well. I was afraid of baptism because I nearly drowned in the service at recruit training. I was made to dive into a swimming pool when I could not swim. Of course I sank like a stone and didn’t know what to do. They had to fish me out of the pool with a long piece of pipe. And then I had to take swimming class under the threat that I would have to remain in recruit training until I passed the swim test! To this day I don’t go near deep water :eek:


CCC 1239 says the triple immersion is ‘the most expressive way’. Does this mean it is only licit when done in this manner?

Before the CCC (the present one), Baptism was simply by sprinkling/pouring which was what most of us experienced. Immersion is quite recent though, after a long period where it is not the norm for Baptism.


Seems pretty clear that immersion, pouring, or sprinkling are all valid ways to baptise.


I believe we all agree with this. But to my knowledge only two are licit, immersion and pouring.

If we refer to the CCC quotes above, there is only mention of these two, not sprinkling as it is ilicit; which does not mean invalid.


I read that sprinkling was removed from the list of licit practices in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Everywhere that I have states that the water sprinkled must flow on the head to be valid:
The practice of administering baptism by sprinkling arose in the West in the Middle Ages. The 1917 Code of Canon Law states that baptism is conferred licitly “either through infusion, or through immersion, or through aspersion” (canon 758). Theologians of the time stated that when the water touched the head and flowed, the baptism was valid; otherwise, the baptism was of doubtful validity. While baptisms administered by aspersion according to the Catholic rite were certainly valid, Protestant baptisms administered by aspersion were viewed as being of less certain validity.


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