Viaticum is a term used especially in the Catholic Church for the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion) administered, with or without Anointing of the Sick (also called Extreme Unction), to a person who is dying, and is thus a part of the Last Rites. According to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, "The Catholic tradition of giving the Eucharist to the dying ensures that instead of dying alone they die with Christ who promises them eternal life."[1]


The word viaticum is a Latin word meaning "provision for a journey," from via, or "way". For Communion as Viaticum, the Eucharist is given in the usual form, with the added words "May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life". The Eucharist is seen as the ideal spiritual food to strengthen a dying person for the journey from this world to life after death.

Alternatively, viaticum can refer to an ancient Roman provision or allowance for traveling, originally of transportation and supplies, later of money, made to officials on public missions; mostly simply, the word, a haplology of viā tēcum ("with you on the way"), indicates money or necessities for any journey. Viaticum can also refer to the enlistment bonus received by a Roman legionary, auxiliary soldier or seaman in the Roman Imperial Navy.


Alexey Venetsianov 25
Administration of the Eucharist to a dying person (painting by 19th-century artist Alexey Venetsianov)

The desire to have the bread and wine consecrated in the Eucharist available for the sick and dying led to the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, a practice which has endured from the earliest days of the Christian Church. Saint Justin Martyr, writing less than fifty years after the death of Saint John the Apostle, mentions that “the deacons communicate each of those present, and carry away to the absent the consecrated Bread, and wine and water.” (Just. M. Apol. I. cap. lxv.)

If the dying person cannot take solid food, the Eucharist may be administered in the species of wine alone, since Christ exists in His entirety (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) under both the solid and liquid species.

The sacrament of Extreme Unction is often administered immediately before giving Viaticum if a priest is available to do so. Unlike the Anointing of the Sick, Viaticum may be administered by a priest, deacon or by an extraordinary minister, using the reserved Blessed Sacrament.

Relation to superstition

Contrary to church doctrine, during late Antiquity and the early medieval period the host was sometimes placed in the mouth of a person already dead, perhaps owing to traditional superstition[2] that scholars have compared to the pre-Christian custom of Charon's obol, a small coin placed in the mouth of the dead for passage to the afterlife and sometimes called a viaticum in Latin literary sources.[3]


  1. ^ L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper.
  2. ^ Gregory Grabka, “Christian Viaticum,” Traditio 9 (1953), pp. 38–42; G.J.C. Snoek, Medieval Piety from Relics to the Eucharist (Leiden 1995), pp. 103, 122–124; Edward T. Cook, A Popular Handbook to the Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum (London 1903), pp. 370–371.
  3. ^ A. Rush, Death and Burial in Christian Antiquity (Washington, D.C. 1941), pp. 93–94; Gregory Grabka, “Christian Viaticum: A Study of Its Cultural Background,” Traditio 9 (1953), 1–43; Frederick S. Paxton, Christianizing Death: The Creation of a Ritual Process in Early Medieval Europe (Cornell University Press 1990), pp. 32–33 online; G.J.C. Snoek, Medieval Piety from Relics to the Eucharist: A Process of Mutual Interaction (Leiden 1995), passim, but especially pp. 102–103 online and 122–124 online; Paul Binski, Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation (Cornell University Press 1996), p. 32 online; J. Patout Burns, “Death and Burial in Christian Africa: The Literary Evidence,” paper delivered to the North American Patristics Society, May 1997, full text online.


  • Rubin, Miri, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Snoek, C. J. K., Medieval Piety from Relics to the Eucharist: A Process of Mutual Interaction, Leiden: Brill, 1995,
Alloteropsis semialata

Alloteropsis semialata, known commonly as black seed grass, cockatoo grass, donkersaad gras, swartsaadgras, tweevingergras, and isi quinti, is a perennial grass distributed across much of tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Australia, as well as Papuasia and Madagascar.The species has two subspecies including A. semialata subsp. semialata, which uses the C4 photosynthetic pathway, and A. semialata subsp. eckloniana, which uses the C3 photosynthetic pathway. As the only plant species known to use both pathways, it is an important model for the study of the evolution of photosynthesis.

The species has been found in a polyploid series with diploid, tetraploid, hexaploid, octoploid and dodecaploid individuals.

Altar of repose

The altar of repose is an altar where the Communion hosts consecrated on Maundy Thursday during the Mass of the Lord's Supper are placed, or "reserved", for use on the following day, Good Friday. The altar can be found in Roman Catholic, Anglican (especially Anglo-Catholic), and some Lutheran churches. Good Friday is the day on which the death of Christ is observed. His Resurrection is not observed until Easter Sunday and the anticipatory Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Between the time of his death and resurrection, mass is not celebrated, and so communion hosts cannot be consecrated. Any hosts used on Good Friday must have been consecrated previously.

The Roman Catholic Church does not require that the place of reservation should be an altar, only that "the Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a closed tabernacle or pyx". Indeed, the Church's rules on the matter envisage no more than a single altar in the church.

In the Mass of the Lord's Supper, a sufficient number of hosts are consecrated for the faithful to receive Communion both at that mass and on the next day, Good Friday. The hosts intended for the Good Friday service are not placed in the tabernacle, as is usual, but are left on the altar, while the priest says the postcommunion prayer. They are then carried in solemn procession to a place of reservation somewhere in the church or in an appropriately adorned chapel. The priest uses a humeral veil while carrying them to that place. The procession is led by a cross-bearer accompanied by two servers with lighted candles; other servers with lighted candles follow and a thurifer with incense immediately precedes the priest. At the end of the Holy Thursday service, all altars, except the one used as the altar of repose, are stripped. The Blessed Sacrament remains in that temporary place until the Holy Communion part of the Good Friday liturgical service.

Roman Catholic piety has made Maundy Thursday a day of exceptional devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and the place where the Sacrament is reserved is a focus for the love and aspirations of the faithful. Eucharistic adoration is encouraged at the place of reservation, but if continued after midnight should be done without outward solemnity. In many urban cities, the practice has developed among the faithful of traveling from one church to another to pray in front the different church's Altar of Repose, a practice called Seven Churches Visitation. In the Philippines, this practice is called Visita Iglesia.

At the Good Friday service (The Celebration of the Passion of the Lord), the Blessed Sacrament is available for Communion. After that service (with the altar of repose being dismantled), it remains available as viaticum for the dying in a less conspicuous location such as a locked cabinet in the sacristy. While the receptacle remains in such a temporary tabernacle, a lamp or candle is kept burning before it.

Mention of the altar of repose and the procession to it is not found before the close of the fifteenth century. The reservation of the Consecrated Species in the Mass of Holy Thursday, spoken of in earlier liturgical works, was for the distribution of Holy Communion, not for the service on the following day.

Anamnesis (Christianity)

Anamnesis (from the Attic Greek word ἀνάμνησις meaning "reminiscence" or "memorial sacrifice"), in Christianity, is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Eucharist or to the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. It has its origin in Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "Do this in memory of me" (Greek: "τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν", (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24–25).

In a wider sense, Anamnesis is a key concept in the liturgical theology: in worship the faithful recall God's saving deeds. This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.

Angelicall Stone

The Angelicall Stone is a concept in alchemy. According to Elias Ashmole the stone was the goal above all goals for the alchemist. In his prologue to the Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, he states:

Lastly, as touching the Angellicall stone, it is so subtill, saith the aforesaid author, that it can be neither seene, felt, or weighed, but tasted only. The voyce of man (which bears some proportion to these subtill properties) comes short in comparison; nay the air itself is not so penetrable, and yet (Oh mysterious wonder !) a stone, that will lodge in the fire to eternity without being prejudiced. It hath a divine power, celestiall, invisible, above the rest; and endows the possessor with Divine gifts. It affords the apparition of angells, and gives a power of conversing with them, by dreams and revelations:nor dare any evil spirit approach the place where it lodgeth. Because it is a quintessence wherein there is no corruptable thing; and where the elements are not corrupted, no devil can stay or abide.

S. Dunston calls it the Food of Angels, and by others it is termed The Heavenly Viaticum; the Tree of Life, and (next under GOD) the true Alchochodon, or Giver of Years; for by it man's body is preserved from corruption, being thereby inabled to live a long time without foode: nay 'tis made a question as to whether any man can dye who uses it. Which I doe not so much admire, as to think why the possessors of it should desire to live, that have those manifestations of glory and eternity, presented unto there fleshly eyes; but rather desire to be dissolved, and to enjoy the full fruition, then live where they must be content with the bare speculation.

After Hermes had once obtained knowledge of this stone, he gave over the use of all other stones; and therein only delighted; Moses and Solomon (together with Hermes) were the only three that excelled in the knowledge thereof, and who therewith wrought wonders.

Anointing of the Sick in the Catholic Church

Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church that is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin". Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of Viaticum, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition of serious illness or injury or simply old age: "It is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."Anointing of the sick has often been postponed until someone is on the point of dying, so much so that, in spite of the fact that, in all celebrations of this sacrament, the liturgy prays for recovery of the health of the sick person if that would be conducive to his salvation, Anointing of the Sick has been thought to be exclusively for the dying and has been called Extreme Unction (Final Anointing).The sacrament is administered by a priest, who uses olive oil or another pure plant oil to anoint the patient's forehead and perhaps other parts of the body while reciting certain prayers. It is believed to give comfort, peace, courage and, if the sick person is unable to make a confession, even forgiveness of sins. Several other churches and ecclesial communities have similar ceremonies (see Anointing of the Sick for a more general discussion).

Apostolic Pardon

In the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Pardon is an indulgence given for the remission of temporal punishment due to sin. The Apostolic Pardon is given by a priest, usually along with Viaticum (i.e. reception of Communion by a dying person, see Pastoral Care of the Sick, USA numbers 184, 187, 195, 201). It is not usually given as part of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. However, if the Anointing of the Sick is given with Viaticum, in exceptional circumstances or an emergency, it may be given then. (See Pastoral Care of the Sick, United States numbers 243, 265).

According to the Church, a person who is properly disposed by being in the state of grace - i.e., the person has committed no known and unconfessed mortal sins - who receives the Apostolic Pardon gains the complete pardon of all temporal punishment due to sin that has already been forgiven by the reception of absolution and the doing of penance, i.e., a plenary indulgence. The Apostolic Pardon does not forgive sins by the act of absolution; it deals only with the punishment (purgation) due for those sins that have already been sacramentally forgiven. However, the Sacrament of Penance, or Reconciliation, which does forgive sins, is usually administered along with the Apostolic Pardon as a part of the Last Rites.

The Church's ritual book on the Pastoral Care of the Sick uses the term "Apostolic Pardon" for what elsewhere, for instance in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, is called the "Apostolic Blessing with attached plenary indulgence". Priests are urged to impart it to the dying, but if a priest cannot be had, the Church grants a plenary indulgence, to be acquired at the moment of death, to any rightly disposed Christian who in life was accustomed to say some prayers, with the Church itself supplying the three conditions normally required for gaining a plenary indulgence (Confession, Communion and prayers for the Pope's intentions).

Charon's obol

Charon's obol is an allusive term for the coin placed in or on the mouth of a dead person before burial. Greek and Latin literary sources specify the coin as an obol, and explain it as a payment or bribe for Charon, the ferryman who conveyed souls across the river that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. Archaeological examples of these coins, of various denominations in practice, have been called "the most famous grave goods from antiquity."The custom is primarily associated with the ancient Greeks and Romans, though it is also found in the ancient Near East. In Western Europe, a similar usage of coins in burials occurs in regions inhabited by Celts of the Gallo-Roman, Hispano-Roman and Romano-British cultures, and among the Germanic peoples of late antiquity and the early Christian era, with sporadic examples into the early 20th century.

Although archaeology shows that the myth reflects an actual custom, the placement of coins with the dead was neither pervasive nor confined to a single coin in the deceased's mouth. In many burials, inscribed metal-leaf tablets or Exonumia take the place of the coin, or gold-foil crosses during the early Christian period. The presence of coins or a coin-hoard in Germanic ship-burials suggests an analogous concept.The phrase "Charon’s obol" as used by archaeologists sometimes can be understood as referring to a particular religious rite, but often serves as a kind of shorthand for coinage as grave goods presumed to further the deceased's passage into the afterlife. In Latin, Charon's obol sometimes is called a viaticum, or "sustenance for the journey"; the placement of the coin on the mouth has been explained also as a seal to protect the deceased's soul or to prevent it from returning.

Esbjörn Svensson Trio

Esbjörn Svensson Trio (or e.s.t.) was a Swedish jazz piano trio formed in 1993 consisting of Esbjörn Svensson (piano), Dan Berglund (double bass), and Magnus Öström (drums). Its music has classical, rock, pop, and techno elements. It lists classical composer Béla Bartók and rock band Radiohead as influences. Its style involves conventional jazz and the use of electronic effects and multitrack recording.

Greenway, Pembrokeshire

Greenway, also referred to as New Inn, is a hamlet on the southern slopes of the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It sits on the crossroads between the B4329 old Cardigan to Haverfordwest turnpike and the B4313 road between Fishguard and Narberth and is the site of a former inn serving travellers on these routes, now a private dwelling. Greenway is in the parish of Morvil and the community of Puncheston, and the nearest village is Rosebush.

The North Pembrokeshire and Fishguard Railway had a halt at Greenway.

Richard Fenton described New Inn in his 1811 Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire – …New Inn, a public-house of no very imposing appearance, yet proving no small accommodation in the long stage across the mountains from Haverfordwest to Cardigan, and where a slender viaticum for man and horse is absolutely necessary to fit them for the arduous task of winding up the painful ascent of Bwlch Gwynt.

Ibn al-Jazzar

Ahmed Bin Jaafar Bin Brahim Ibn Al Jazzar Al-Qayrawani (895 – 979) (Arabic: أبو جعفر أحمد بن أبي خالد بن الجزار القيرواني‎), was an influential 10th-century Muslim Arab physician who became famous for his writings on Islamic medicine. He was born in Qayrawan in modern-day Tunisia. He was known in Europe by the Latinized name Algizar.


Intinction is the Eucharistic practice of partly dipping the consecrated bread, or host, into the consecrated wine before consumption by the communicant.

Jacques Édouard Quecq

Jacques Édouard Quecq, a French historical painter, born at Cambrai in 1796, and died in 1874. He was a pupil of Steuben. Among his works are:

First Combat of Romulus and Remus, 1827

Death of Vitellius, 1831

Death of Britannicus, 1833

After the Shipwreck, 1834

Saint Waast, 1838

Francis of Assisi, 1836

San Carlo Borromeo during the Plague at Milan, 1840

San Carlo Borromeo Administering the Viaticum to Pope Pius IV, 1842

Martin of Tours, 1846

Lais and Diogenes, 1850

Christ Fainting Under the Cross, 1861

Portrait of Louis XVIII

Last rites

The last rites, in Roman Catholicism, are the last prayers and ministrations given to an individual of the faith, when possible, shortly before death. The last rites go by various names. They may be administered to those awaiting execution, mortally injured, or terminally ill.

Mea culpa

Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that means "through my fault" and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong.

Grammatically, meā culpā is in the ablative case, with an instrumental meaning.

The phrase comes from a prayer of confession of sinfulness, known as the Confiteor, used in the Roman Rite at the beginning of Mass or when receiving the sacrament of Penance.

The expression is used also as an admission of having made a mistake that should have been avoided, and may be accompanied by beating the breast as in its use in a religious context.

Missa sicca

The Missa sicca (Latin for 'dry Mass') was a form of Catholic devotion used in the medieval Catholic Church when a full Mass could not be said, such as for funerals or marriages which were served in the afternoon after a priest had already said Mass earlier that morning. It consisted of all components the Mass except the Offertory, Consecration and Communion.(Durandus, "Rationale", IV, i, 23)

Specific types of Missa sicca included Missa nautica, said at sea in rough weather, and Missa venatoria, said for hunters in a hurry. In some monasteries each priest was also obliged to say a dry Mass after the conventual Mass.

Cardinal Giovanni Bona (Rerum liturg. libr. duo, I, xv) argued against the practice of saying dry Masses. Following the reform of Pope Pius V it gradually disappeared.


Oblation, meaning an offering (Late Latin oblatio, from offerre, oblatum, to offer), is a term used, particularly in ecclesiastical use, for a solemn offering or presentation to God.

Reserved sacrament

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the second part of the Mass, the elements of bread and wine are considered to have been changed into the veritable Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The manner in which this occurs is referred to by the term transubstantiation, a theory of St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the Orthodox, and Lutheran communions also believe that Jesus Christ is really and truly present in the bread and wine, but they believe that the way in which this occurs must forever remain a sacred mystery. In many Christian churches some portion of the consecrated elements is set aside and reserved after the reception of Communion and referred to as the reserved sacrament. The reserved sacrament is usually stored in a tabernacle, a locked cabinet made of precious materials and usually located on, above, or near the high altar. In Western Christianity usually only the Host, from Latin: hostia, meaning "victim" (the consecrated bread), is reserved, except where wine might be kept for the sick who cannot consume a host.

The reasons for the reservation of the sacrament vary by tradition, but until around 1000 AD the only reason for reserving the sacrament was to be taken to the ill, homebound, or dying (viaticum). After that devotional practices arose, as for Eucharistic Adoration and for Communion services when a priest is unavailable to celebrate the Eucharist. During the Triduum, the sacrament is taken in procession from the tabernacle, if on the high altar or otherwise in the sanctuary, to the Altar of Repose, and reserved from the end of the Mass of the Lord's Supper until the Communion Rite on Good Friday (called the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified, since the Eucharistic Prayer and consecration are omitted in the Good Friday celebration); this period is seen by some as symbolic of the time between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion of Jesus. The Blessed Sacrament is then absent from the tabernacle until the end of the first Mass of the Resurrection.


A rite is an established, ceremonial, usually religious, act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:

rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, adoption, baptism, coming of age, graduation, or inauguration;

communal rites, whether of worship, where a community comes together to worship, such as Jewish synagogue or Mass, or of another character, such as fertility rites and certain non-religious festivals;

rites of personal devotion, where an individual worships, including prayer and pilgrimages such as the Muslim Hajj, pledges of allegiance, or promises to wed someone.

Viatical settlement

A viatical settlement (from the Latin "viaticum") is the sale of a policy owner's existing life insurance policy to a third party for more than its cash surrender value, but less than its net death benefit. Such a sale provides the policy owner with a lump sum. The third party becomes the new owner of the policy, pays the monthly premiums, and receives the full benefit of the policy when the insured dies."Viatical settlement" typically is the term used for a settlement involving an insured who is terminally or chronically ill. A person generally is chronically ill if the person (1) is unable to perform at least two activities of daily living, such as eating, using the toilet, bathing oneself, or dressing oneself; (2) requires substantial supervision to protect himself or herself from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment; or (3) has a level of disability similar to that described in (1) as determined by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. A person generally is terminally ill if the person has an illness or sickness that can reasonably be expected to result in death within two years.

As medical advancements improved the lives of those persons living with terminal or chronic illnesses, the life settlement industry emerged.

Order of Mass
Parts of the
Sanctuary / Altar
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Liturgical objects
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of the Roman Rite
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