Anointing

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To anoint is to pour or smear with perfumed oil, milk, water, melted butter or other substances, a process employed ritually by many religions. People and things are anointed to symbolize the introduction of a sacramental or divine influence, a holy emanation, spirit, power or god. It can also be seen as a spiritual mode of ridding persons and things of dangerous influences, as of demons (Persian drug, Greek κηρες Keres, Armenian dev) believed to be or to cause disease.

Unction is another term for anointing. The oil may be called chrism.

The word is known in English since c. 1303, deriving from Old French enoint "smeared on", pp. of enoindre "smear on", itself from Latin inunguere, from in- "on" + unguere "to smear." Originally it only referred to grease or oil smeared on for medicinal purposes; its use in the Coverdale Bible in reference to Christ (cf. The Lord's Anointed, see Chrism) has spiritualized the sense of it, a sense expanded and expounded upon by St Paul's writings in his "Epistles". The title Christ is derived from the Hebrew Messiah and means literally; covered in oil, anointed.

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