However, the apostolic Church has its own rite for the sick,
attested to by St. James: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for
the elders [
] of the Church and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of
faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if
he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
Tradition has rec
ognized in this rite one of the seven sacraments.
A sacrament of the sick
The Church believes and confesses that among the seven
sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those
who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick:
This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our
Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament.
It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the
faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother
of the Lord.
From ancient times in the liturgical traditions of both East and
West, we have testimonies to the practice of anointings of the sick with
blessed oil. Over the centuries the Anointing of the Sick was conferred
more and more exclusively on those at the point of death. Because of this
it received the name “Extreme Unction.” Notwithstanding this evolution
the liturgy has never failed to beg the Lord that the sick personmay recover
his health if it would be conducive to his salvation.
The Apostolic Constitution
Sacram unctionem infir
following upon the Second Vatican Council,
lished that henceforth, in the Roman Rite, the following be
The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is given to those who
are seriously ill by anointing them on the forehead and
hands with duly blessed oil—pressed from olives or from
other plants—saying, only once: “Through this holy anoint-
ing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the
grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from
sin save you and raise you up.”
124 Cf. Council of Constantinople II (553): DS 216; Council of Florence (1439):
1324-1325; Council of Trent (1551) 1695-1696; 1716-1717.
125 Council of Trent (1551): DS 1695; cf.
126 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1696.
127 Paul VI, apostolic constitution,
Sacram unctionem infirmorum,
129 Cf. CIC, can. 847 § 1.