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Extreme Unction

Another name for the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

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Definition: Extreme Unction is another term, very common in past centuries but rarely used today, for one of the seven sacraments, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which is administered both to the dying and to those who are gravely ill or are about to undergo a serious operation, for the recovery of their health and for spiritual strength.

Unction means an anointing with oil (which is part of the sacrament), and extreme refers to the fact that the sacrament (at least until recent years) was usually administered in extremity—in other words, when the person to whom it was being administered was in grave danger of dying.

Pronunciation: EX-treem UNGK-shun

Also Known As: The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Sacrament of the Sick, Last Rites

Examples: "Before Vatican II, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick was often known as Extreme Unction or Last Rites."

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