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What is extreme unction and what are its effects on the soul?

What is extreme unction and what are its effects on the soul?

Nicolas Poussin, Seven Sacraments: Extreme Unction, ca 1637-1640


Catechism of the Catholic Church

1512 – 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 person may recover his health if it would be conducive to his salvation.126

126 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1696.



Catechism of St Pius X

1 Q. What is Extreme Unction?

Extreme Unction is a sacrament instituted for the spiritual as well as for the temporal comfort of the sick in danger of death.

2 Q. What are the effects of Extreme Unction?

The sacrament of Extreme Unction produces the following effects: (1) It increases sanctifying grace; (2) It remits venial sins, and also mortal sins which the sick person, if contrite, is unable to confess; (3) It takes away weakness and sloth which remain even after pardon has been obtained; (4) It gives strength to bear illness patiently, to withstand temptation and to die holily; (5) It aids in restoring us to health of body if it is for the good of the soul.

3 Q. When should Extreme Unction be received?

Extreme Unction should be received when the illness is dangerous, and after the sick person has received, if possible, the sacraments of Penance and the Blessed Eucharist; it is even well to receive it while he has the use of his senses, and has still some hope of recovery.



Mark 6:13

13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

James 5:14-15

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.


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