In the early ages of the Church, confirmation was part of the rite of initiation, and consequently was administered immediately after baptism.
When, however, baptism came to be conferred by simple priests, the two ceremonies were separated in the Western Church.
According to a third opinion ( Morinus, Tapper) either anointing or imposition of hands suffices.
Finally, the most generally accepted view is that the anointing and the imposition of hands conjointly are the matter.
This is the present practice, though there is considerable latitude as to the precise age.
Recipient Confirmation can be conferred only on those who have already been baptized and have not yet been confirmed. Thomas says: Confirmation is to baptism what growth is to generation.
Now it is clear that a man cannot advance to a perfect age unless he has first been born; in like manner, unless he has first been baptized he cannot receive the Sacrament of Confirmation (ST III:72:6).
(For the manner of this consecration and for other details, historical and liturgical, see CHRISM.) The difference regarding the form of the sacrament, i.e.
the words essential for confirmation, has been indicated above in the description of the rite.