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Anointing served and serves three distinct purposes: it is regarded as a means of health and comfort, as a token of honor, and as a symbol of consecration.It seems probable that its sanative purposes were enjoyed before it became an object of ceremonial religion, but the custom appears to predate written history and the archaeological record and it is impossible to determine with certainty.
Applications of oils and fats are also used as traditional medicines.The concept is important to the figures of the Messiah and the Christ (Hebrew and Greek for "The Anointed One") who appear prominently in Jewish and Christian theology and eschatology.Anointing—particularly the anointing of the sick—may also be known as unction; the anointing of the dying as part of last rites in the Catholic church is sometimes specified as "extreme unction".although Christianity usually distinguishes a particularly sanctified chrism from other oils which might also be used.Several related words such as "chrismation" (anointing with oil) and "chrismarium" (a vessel containing chrism or another holy oil) derive from the same root.The Bible records olive oil being applied to the sick and poured into wounds.
Known sources date from times when anointment already served a religious function; therefore, anointing was also used to combat the supposed malicious influence of demons in Persia, Armenia, and Greece.
Anointing was also understood to "seal in" goodness and resist corruption, probably via analogy with the use of a top layer of oil to preserve wine in ancient amphoras, its spoiling usually being credited to demonic influence.
Scented oils are used as perfumes and sharing them is an act of hospitality.
Their use to introduce a divine influence or presence is recorded from the earliest times; anointing was thus used as a form of medicine, thought to rid persons and things of dangerous spirits and demons which were believed to cause disease.
In present usage, "anointing" is typically used for ceremonial blessings such as the coronation of European monarchs.
This continues an earlier Hebrew practice most famously observed in the anointments of Aaron as high priest and both Saul and David by the prophet Samuel.