chrism n : a consecrated ointment consisting of a mixture of oil and balsam [syn: chrisom, sacramental oil, holy oil]
EtymologyFrom mediæval Latin crisma, from ecclesiastical Latin chrisma, from Greek χρισμα, from χριειν ‘anoint’.
Chrism (Greek word literally meaning "an anointing"), also called "Myrrh" (Myron), "Holy Oil," or "Consecrated Oil," is a consecrated oil used in the Roman Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Old-Catholic churches, and some Anglican and Lutheran churches in the administration of certain sacraments and ecclesiastical functions.
Pure or scented olive oil used by other Christian denominations, although typically not called chrism today, has been called chrism in the past, including oil used by Protestants and Restorationists in some forms of Baptism, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick and foot washing. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormons, chrism was historically used in some of their temple ordinances.
Multiple early Christian documents discuss the "ordinance" or "several ceremonies...explained in the Apostolical Constitutions" of "chrism," including documents by Theophilus and Tertullian. The most detailed version of the practice is by Cyril of Jerusalem who details how ointment or oil was "symbolically applied to thy forehead, and thy other organs of sense" and that the "ears, nostrils, and breast were each to be anointed." Cyril states that the "ointment is the seal of the covenants" of baptism and God’s promises to the Christian who is anointed. Cyril taught that being "anointed with the oil [Chrism] of God" was the sign of a Christian (Christos means "anointed"), and a physical representation of having the Gift of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost), and it retains this meaning in Catholicism and Orthodoxy today.
EtymologyGreek or , later "ointment, unguent, anointment" besides "oil, oil flask" and "fit to be anointed", in LXX and NT "the anointed, Messiah", "Christ", is from a verb , (long , later also short ; aorist , perfect ), "smear, anoint, rub or daub with oil or grease".
The further connection of the Greek verb to Indo-European forms is fairly certain, stemming from Proto-Indo-European *ghrei-, "to rub". Cognates include Lithuanian "skimming (of cream)" and Middle Low German "dirt", Old English "mask, helm, spectre" (from a meaning "covered, concealed", c.f. Tarnhelm), English grime, and possibly Phrygian "painted, ornamented, inscribed". A much more obvious cognate, and one with comparable religious significance, is Sanskrit घृत ("sprinkled"), modern ghee, used in Vedic and Hindu custom in anointment and other rituals.
came into Latin as , into Old French, by contamination with Latin "cream" as (Modern French ) and finally into English, in the 14th century as creme, spelled cream with the Great Vowel Shift from the 15th century (crème as a dessert ingredient was re-borrowed in the 19th century). Chrism was loaned into English earlier, in the 11th century as crism, spelled with ch- from the 16th century.
Chrism is essential for the Catholic Sacrament of Confirmation/Chrismation, and is prominently used in the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Orders. Those to be confirmed or chrismated, after receiving the laying on of hands, are anointed on the head by the bishop or priest. In baptism, if the person baptized is not to be immediately confirmed or chrismated, the minister anoints them with chrism. Newly ordained priests are anointed with chrism on the palms of their hands, and newly ordained bishops receive an anointing of chrism on their foreheads. It is also used in the consecration of objects such as churches and altars.
In former times, chrism was used to consecrate patens and chalices as well. A Cross would be formed with the chrism into the chalice and paten on the interior parts where the Eucharist would rest; the Cross would then be smeared to cover the entire interior parts. The chalice and paten would need to be consecrated with the chrism again if they are re-gilded, and this ritual may only be performed by a Bishop or a priest with the faculties to do so. However, this is no longer the practice, and a simple blessing by a priest suffices.
Chrism is usually olive oil (although other plant oils can be used in cases when olive oil is unavailable) and is scented with a sweet perfume, usually balsam. Under normal circumstances, chrism is consecrated by the bishop of the particular church in the presence of the presbyterium at the Mass of the Chrism, which takes place on Holy Thursday. The oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick are also blessed at this Mass.
These holy oils are usually stored in special vessels known as chrismaria and kept in a cabinet known as an ambry. When the oils are distributed to a priest for him to use in his ministy they are kept in a smaller vessel with three compartments, known as an "oil stock". There is also a type of oil stock that is shaped like a ring, to make the anointing easier. The "jewel" of the ring is a container with a removeable lid.
Eastern ChristianityThe primary use of chrism in the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East, is for Chrismation, which under normal circumstances always immediately follows Baptism, even for infants. Here the blessing of the bishop upon the chrism functions as a substitute for the direct imposition of hands, and chrism is normally used even when the bishop is performing the baptism himself. Its other notable modern use is in the consecration of church buildings, where it is used to anoint the walls and the altar table. Formerly, emperors and kings of monarchies where Orthodoxy was the state religion would be anointed with chrism at their coronations.
Chrism is made during Holy Week beginning on Holy Monday and culminating in the Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday when it is carried in the Great Entrance and placed upon the altar. It is primarily olive oil with the addition of a range of aromatic essences, patterned after the anointing oil described in Bible verse |Exodus|30:22-33|. It can only be consecrated by an autocephalous church. The service is performed by the Patriarch and members of The Holy Synod. On completion, chrism is distributed to all the bishops, who, in turn, give it to their parishes when needed. It is not made on an yearly basis, but only when supplies run short.
Anglicanism and LutheranismThe primary use of chrism in Anglican and Lutheran churches is for the rite of chrismation, which may be included as a part of Baptism, even for infants. Here the blessing of the bishop upon the chrism usually functions as a substitute for the direct imposition of episcopal hands, and chrism is normally used even when the bishop is performing the baptism himself. Its other notable use is in the consecration of church buildings, where it may be used to anoint the walls, the altar/table, and the place for reservation of the Eucharistic sacrament for the sick.
Chrism is usually olive oil (although other plant oils can be used in cases when olive oil is unavailable) and is scented with a sweet perfume, usually balsam. Under usual circumstances, chrism is consecrated by the bishop of the particular church in the presence of the presbyterium at the Holy Eucharist for the Reaffirmation of Ministerial Vows (or Chrism Mass), which takes place on Maundy Thursday. The oil of catechumens and the oil of the sick are usually also consecrated at this liturgy. Practices vary for the blessing of the chrism, from interpolations within the Eucharistic Prayer, to specific prayers of consecration, used at the discretion of the minister. Some Lutheran liturgical books, however, make provision for a pastor who is not a bishop (a presbyter) to consecrate chrism in time of need and in the absence of the bishop.
Latter-day SaintsPrior to January 16, 2005, a nearly identical procedure to that described by Cyril in his On the Mysteries. III: Lecture XXI On Chrism was performed in Latter-day Saint temples. A modified version of the ordinance is still performed. See Washing and anointing.
chrism in German: Chrisam
chrism in Spanish: Crisma
chrism in Esperanto: Krismo
chrism in French: Saint chrême
chrism in Korean: 성유
chrism in Italian: Crisma
chrism in Limburgan: Chrisma
chrism in Dutch: Chrisma
chrism in Polish: Krzyżmo
chrism in Russian: Миро
chrism in Slovenian: Krizma
chrism in Finnish: Mirha