This question is prompted by another question that brought up the validity of St. Monica's marriage to Patricius, a pagan. Assuming that Monica and Patricius were married in the church in Thasgate, why did the bishop of Thasgate permit it?

Background notes for consideration:

  • Assuming that Monica's parents were Christians, why did they arrange her marriage to a pagan?
  • Monica (b. AD 332) was probably married a few years before Augustine was born (AD 354). This was mere decades after Christianity became legal (AD 313, Edict of Milan). Realizing that the church just endured one of the worst persecutions that ran for about 10 years where a lot of Christians apostatized (and became the context for the Donatist controversy), it's not surprising if Christian bachelors of good social standing were in short supply.
  • As an underground network of collegiate bishops, the early church managed to preserve her apostolic identity by denouncing movements such as Gnosticism, Marcionism, Montanism, and Novationism. Then shortly after the church became legal, the church immediately had to continue strengthening her identity by addressing the Trinitarian and Christological issues throughout the 4th and 5th centuries, in addition to Priscillianism & Manichaeism (the latest permutations of Gnosticism), Pelagianism, Messalianism, and Donatism. Therefore, I wonder whether the early church in Monica's day (either individual bishopric or collectively) had enough energy to require a couple to be both baptized Christians before administering the sacrament of matrimony.
  • Was there a network-wide church canon law at this point? Or did an individual bishop embody the church law?
  • We also need to consider that the Roman empire started to share jurisdiction in religious matters with the church only with Emperor Constantine.
  • Several resources that I found through a quick research (I'm sure there are better ones):

My question: When did the early church start to require couples to be both baptized Christians (or at least catechumens) as a prerequisite for the sacrament of matrimony? If it is far later than Monica's time, how did bishops in the 4th century deal with mixed marriages?

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    @Lucian I used St. Monica as a representative of the important transitional period of church history since after Augustine we crossed a milestone. If Protestants want to find justification for their doctrines I think this is the last period to look since from this point on the Catholic tradition will add more that is "unscriptural" (from Protestant perspective). So I wonder why you characterize the question silly. May 5, 2021 at 21:27
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    @Lucian How is it anachronistic? I wasn't trying to judge St. Monica by present standard. This is a historical inquiry. In fact I'd like to know how the church in St. Monica time practiced Biblical principles given their specific culture (North African 4th century Latin speaking Roman empire) and challenges (persecution). May 5, 2021 at 23:16


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