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Anointing of the Sick

The Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and some Protestant churches. The former name Extreme Unction was used in the Western (Roman) part of the Catholic Church from the end of the twelfth century until recently, and was never popular in the Eastern (Orthodox) part. Last Rites is a common but misleading term; the Anointing of the Sick can be received as often as the believer desires and should not be postponed until death is thought to be near, nor is its administration intended to imply an expectation that the recipient is about to die.

To anoint is to rub with oil; the priest uses olive oil consecrated by a bishop.

The sacrament has also been known as the holy oil, or unction, of the sick; the unction or blessing of consecrated oil; the unction of God; the office of the unction; and so on. In the Eastern Church the technical name is euchelaion ("prayer-oil"); but other names are used such as elaion hagion ("holy") or hegismenon ("consecrated"), elaion, elaiou Chrisis, chrisma, and so on. The chief biblical text for anointing of the sick is James 5:14,15.

It gives spiritual aid and comfort and perfect spiritual health, including the forgiveness of sins to Christians who are seriously ill. Catholics hold that in some cases it effect miraculous cures.