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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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CHRISM (through Lat. chrisma, from Gr. xp"cvµa, an anointing substance, XpLecv , to anoint; through a Romanic form cresma comes the Fr. creme, and Eng. " cream "), a mixture of olive oil and balm, used for anointing in the Roman Catholic church in baptism, confirmation and ordination, and in the consecrating and blessing of altars, chalices, baptismal water, &c. The consecration of the " chrism " is performed by a bishop, and since the 5th century has taken place on Maundy Thursday. In the Orthodox Church the chrism contains, besides olive oil, many precious spices and perfumes, and is known as " muron " or " myron." The word is sometimes used loosely for the unmixed olive oil used in the sacrament of extreme unction. The " Chrisom " or " chrysom," a variant of " chrism," lengthened through pronunciation, is a white cloth with which the head of a newly baptized child was covered to prevent the holy oil from being rubbed off. If the baby died within a month of its baptism, it was shrouded in its chrisom; otherwise the cloth or its value was given to the church as an offering by the mother at her churching. Children dying within the month were called chrisom-children " or " chrisoms," and up to 1726 such entries occur in bills of mortality. The word was also used generally for a very young and innocent child, thus Shakespeare, Henry V., ii. 3, says of Falstaff: " A' made a finer end and went away an it had been any Chrisom Child."

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Chrism'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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