EXTREME UNCTION, a sacrament of the Roman Catholic church, which, as the other sacraments supply spiritual aid iu the various circumstances of life, is believed to impart to the Christian in death grace and strength to 'encounter the struggle, as well spiritual as bodily, of the dying hour. The right of unction in different forms is common to several of the sacraments; the name " extreme" is given to that of the present sacra ment, because it is reserved for the last act of the Christian career. The council of Trent declares this sacrament, although " promulgated" in the well-known passage of St. James v. 14, 15 (which Protestants regard as having more to do with the general belief in the sanative properties of oil), to have been " instituted" by Christ. The fathers frequently allude to the right of unction, and although many of these allusions certainly refer to the unctions of baptism and confirmation, yet Catholics rely on several pas sages of Origen, Chrysostom, Cmsarius of Arles, and pope Innocent I., as decisive regard ing the unction of the dying, as also upon the fact that in the various separated churches of oriental Christians—Greek, Coptic, Armenian, and Nestorian—the rite is found. although with many ceremonial variations. In the Roman Catholic church, the sacra ment is administered by the priest, who, " dipping his thumb in the holy oil, anoints the sick person, in the form of the cross, upon the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, hands, and feet; at each anointing making use of this form of prayer: ' Through this holy unction, and his most tender mercy, may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins thou bast com mitted by thy sight. Amen." And so of the hearing and the rest, adapting the form to
the several senses.' —Challoner's Catholic Christian Instructed. E. U. is reputed by Catholics one of the sacraments " of the living;" that is, it ordinarily requires that the recipient should have previously obtained remission of his sins by absolution or by per fect contrition; but it is held to remit, indirectly, actual ,sins not previously remitted, And also (although not infallibly, but according to the merciful designs of Providence) to alleviate, and even to dispel, the pains of bodily disease. The holy oil which forms the " matter" of this sacrament must be blessed by the bishop—a ceremony which is performed with great solemnity once each year by the bishop, attended by a number of priests, on Maundy-Thursday. The oil so blessed is reserved for use during the year. In the Greek church, the sacrament is administered by several priests conjointly. In its most solemn form, seven priests unite in its administration; in ordinary circum stances, it is conferred by two. The Greek form of words also differs, although not substantially, from that of the Latin church. The Greeks call this sacrament " the holy oil," and sometimes " the oil of prayer."