Over at The Art of Manliness there is an interesting entry about shaving. Under that entry we find this about beards, shaving, and the Early Church [with my corrections to the Latin]:
While the ancient Jews and Muslims were commanded not to shave off their beards, the acceptability of beards among the early Christians waxed and waned.
Sometimes beards were seen as symbols of piety — other times as diabolic. In the faith’s early days, the beard took on the former meaning. A man who decided to devote himself to a monastic life would often undergo an initiatory first shave (in addition to the tonsure — the cutting of the hair on the crown of the head) that was observed by the other monks in the monastery. Before the shave, a prayer called the benedictio ad barbam, or “blessing of the beard” would be said. One version used in the Abbey of Bec in France went like this:
Oremus, Dilectissimi, Deum Patrem omnipotentem, ut huic Famulo suo N., quem ad iuvenitem perducere est aetatem, benedictionis suae dona concedate; ut, sicut exemplo Beati Petri, Principis Apostolorum, ei exteriora, pro Christi amore, sunt attondenda iuventutis auspicia, ita praecordiorum divellantur interiorum superflua, ac felicitatis aetermae percipiat incrementa. Per eum qui unus in Trinitate perfecta vivit et gloriatur Deus per immortalia saecula saeculorum. Amen
After their initial shave, monks were put on a strict shaving schedule. In a convocation held in 817 AD, French monks decided that they should shave once a fortnight, but would take part in an occasional razor and shaving fast during certain times of the year.
Does anyone want to take a crack at a perfect and smooth English version?