"Viaticum" is the term the Catholic Church and some Anglo Catholic Anglicans uses for the Eucharist (Communion) given to a dying person. It is not the same as the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, but rather it is the Eucharist administered in special circumstances. According to the L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's newspaper, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán explained, "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."

The word "viaticum" is a Latin word meaning "provisions for a journey," from "via," or "way." The Eucharist is seen as the ideal food to strengthen a dying person for the journey from this world to life after death. It seems that originally the Eucharistic bread was placed in the mouth of the dead person so that he or she would have food for what the early Christians believed was a 3 day journey between this world and the next.

The desire to have the consecrated host and eucharistic blood 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 Holy Eucharist may be administered in the form not of bread, but of wine. The sacrament of Anointing of the Sick 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 extraordinarily (and only in special circumstances) by a lay minister using the reserved Blessed Sacrament.

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  • Viaticum — • Among the ancient Greeks the custom prevailed of giving a supper to those setting out on a journey Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Viaticum     Viaticum      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • VIATICUM — apud Tacitum, l. 1. Annal. c. 37. ubi de seditione legionum Germanicarum, Non abscessêre quintani unetvigesimanique, donec iisdem in aestivis contracta ex viatico amicorum ipsiusque Caesaris pecunia solveretur: quid sit, ex seqq. pateit. Et… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Viaticum — er et latinsk ord hvis egentlige betydning er rejsekost, proviant . I den romersk katolske kirke betegner viaticum den indviede hostie (alterets sakramente) som præsten giver til en døende. Flere danske ordbøger og leksika påstår at der desuden… …   Danske encyklopædi

  • viaticum — (n.) 1560s, from L. viaticum travelling money; provision for a journey, from via way (see VIA (Cf. via)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Viaticum — Vi*at i*cum, n. [L., from viaticus, a. See {Viatic}.] 1. (Rom. Antiq.) An allowance for traveling expenses made to those who were sent into the provinces to exercise any office or perform any service. [1913 Webster] 2. Provisions for a journey.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Viatĭcum — (lat.), 1) bei den Römern die abreisenden Freunden mit auf den Weg gegebenen Lebensmittel; 2) das den nach den Provinzen gehenden Statthaltern aus dem Staatsschatz gegebene Reisegeld; 3) das Geld, welches sich Soldaten im Kriege verdienten od.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Viaticum — Viaticum, ein Weg oder Zehrgeld, Zehrpfennig …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Viaticum — Viaticum, lat., Reisegeld, Zehrpfennig; Wegzehrung (das einem Sterbenden gereichte Abendmahl) …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • viaticum — (izg. viátikum) m DEFINICIJA 1. kat. posljednja pričest umirućem 2. zast. popudbina, putnina ETIMOLOGIJA lat.: putni trošak ← viare: putovati …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • viaticum — ► NOUN (pl. viatica) ▪ the Eucharist as given to a person near or in danger of death. ORIGIN Latin, from via road …   English terms dictionary

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