The Symbol of the Anointing of the Sick and Its Meaning


The sacrament of anointing the sick or the meaning of the sacrament of holy oil is one of the seven sacraments found in Catholicism. Originally, this sacrament was intended for those who were dying or near death. With this function, many people are even afraid to perform the sacrament of anointing the sick because they think this sacrament can hasten death.

As a result, day by day this sacrament is used less and less. For this reason, in its development there has been a change in the function of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. Since the Second Vatican Council, this sacrament is not only intended for those who are seriously ill, but also for those who are weak so that they can be given physical and spiritual strength. Apart from that, this sacrament can also be performed many times, in contrast to initially which could only be performed once.

The implementation of the sacrament of anointing the sick is carried out by a priest and attended by the congregation. The priest lays his hand on the forehead of the sick person while praying that God will forgive the types of sins in the Bible, bestow salvation, and be pleased to add to the heart of the sick person. After that, the Priest wipes the patient's hands and forehead with a special blessed oil, namely Oleum Infirmorum oil.

If we pay attention, the Catholic church hierarchies often use symbols and symbols in rituals, including in the sacraments. Not because they worship the object that is used as the symbol, but they want to go deeper and feel the invisible presence of God through the created object that functions as a symbol. Symbols and symbols are also thought to make them more able to see the depths of kindness, love, compassion, and other inner things.

Symbols on the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick

     Anointing Oil

Anointing oil is a symbol of the most important sacrament of the anointing of the sick. That's why this sacrament is also commonly called the sacrament of unction. Since ancient times, oil has been known as a tool that can heal and purify. In the Bible alone, anointing oil is mentioned twenty times, and most of the time it was used to sanctify something, such as the altar, the vessels, and other items in the tabernacle. In addition, anointing oil can also be used for certain occasions, such as the appointment of priests, kings and prophets. Therefore, in ancient times it was forbidden for ordinary people to use anointing oil, let alone make it for personal gain.

In the book of Exodus 30:23-24, the ingredients for making anointing oil consisted of myrrh, cinnamon, and other natural ingredients. As for the new agreement, anointing oil is only mentioned four times and each has a different purpose.

One of the Biblical grounds for using oil in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick is found in James 5:14 which says, “If anyone among you is sick, let him call the elders of the church so that they may pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. ”


The symbol most synonymous with Christians is the sign of the cross. During the sacrament of anointing the sick, the Priest makes the sign of the cross on the forehead and hands of the sick person. Catholics often use the cross in their daily lives, for example making the sign of the cross on their bodies before and after praying. Some teachings say that by making the sign of the cross they are unknowingly sanctified by God. Apart from that, making the sign of the cross can also protect people from misleading worldly teachings. But in general, the use of the sign of the cross has a meaning, namely to remind us of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic use of the sign of the cross also has its own history. In the second century, large numbers of Christians were persecuted and killed by the Romans. Until one day they met a Roman General who had compassion on Christians who were being tortured. His name was Constantine, the name that is now the name of a city in Turkey.

One night, the General had a dream, if he wanted to win against Maxentinu in Rome, then he had to mark all of his swords with the sign of the cross. He did that too, as a result the general won and the Christians were free from torture. That was the first time Christians started using the sign of the cross.


While performing the anointing, the Priest rubbed holy oil on the forehead of the sick person. The reason why the forehead is used as a symbol in this sacrament is because the forehead is one of the most visible parts of the human body. Catholics believe that they need to project an image of Christ's character through their actions. By anointing the sick person's forehead, it signifies the need for Christ and is willing to follow Him, and will indirectly depict the image of Christ through him.


In addition to the forehead, the Imam also smears holy oil on the hands of the sick person. Hands are considered to be the most frequently used part of the body when performing activities. By anointing the hands, the sick person is reminded to always do all his activities for His interests and will.

     Laying on of Hands

In Mark 16:18 it reads, “… they shall hold serpents, and though they drink deadly poison, they shall not suffer; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” This verse is one of the reasons why the Imam lays hands on the sick when anointing.

In addition to the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, there are many events/rituals that also involve the laying on of hands. The laying on of hands is one of the symbols in the sacrament of the anointing of the sick because it means that the power of God enters the sick person through the mediation of the Imam. In addition, laying hands on the sick is also felt to provide comfort, showing concern and attention.

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