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Saint Ann's Oil

One of the most enduring symbols that Novena clients have been using for years is Saint Ann's Oil.The practice of anointing people and objects with oil is very ancient and shared by people of different cultures and religions. Anointing with oil has also had an important religious significance and use, especially as an act of consecration. Anointing also marked certain people for sacred ministry.

For Christians we take the root of our understanding of being anointed with oil from the olive tree from the near east, most especially in Jerusalem at the Mount of Olives.

There are many references to the use of the oil from the olive tree. It was used for food, fuel and medicinal purposes.

To be anointed with oil was seen as sacred as we can see in the following passages from Sacred Scripture:

Exodus 29:7Then take the anointing oil and anoint him with it, pouring it on his head.

1 Samuel, 10: Then, from a flask he had with him, Samuel poured oil on Saul's head.

Psalm 23:5You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Psalm 45:8God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings.

2 Kings 9:3 From the flask you have, pour oil on his head, and say, 'Thus says the LORD: I anoint you king over Israel.' Then open the door and flee without delay."

Isaiah 61:3 To give them oil of gladness in place of mourning

Hebrews 1:9You loved justice and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions";

James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? 6He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord.

The early church anointed the sick with oil to give them physical and spiritual strength. The letter of James says that prayers and the anointing of the sick with oil "will save the sick". Even today the Church uses oil on important occasions such as baptism with the oil of catechumens and sacred chrism; the sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Orders also use sacred chrism, and in the anointing of the sick the oil of the sick is used.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, section #'s 1293-1296, which deals with the sacrament of Confirmation says the following about anointing with oil:

Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: oil is a sign of abundance and joy;103 it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds;104 and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength

Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life. The pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of catechumens signifies cleansing and strengthening; the anointing of the sick expresses healing and comfort. The post-baptismal anointing with sacred chrism in Confirmation and ordination is the sign of consecration. By Confirmation Christians, that is, those who are anointed, share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which he is filled, so that their lives may give off "the aroma of Christ."105

By this anointing the confirmand receives the "mark," the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an object.106 Hence soldiers were marked with their leader's seal and slaves with their master's. A seal authenticates a juridical act or document and occasionally makes it secret.107

Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father's seal.108 Christians are also marked with a seal: "It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."109 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.

The Church also blesses oil in honor of certain saints such as Saint Ann. We can use Saint Ann's oil in the same way that religious people have used oil for centuries.

To anoint a person with Saint Ann's oil is a sign that God sees our needs and will answer the prayers we request in the name of his Son Jesus.

Novena clients of St. Ann have been using St. Ann's oil for years. For many people they apply it to a wound, or bless a person on the forehead with it as a sign God's blessing for the person. St. Ann's Oil also is a sign of our solidarity, a bond that unites us and the sufferings of our brothers and sisters with the sufferings of Christ who anoints us with the oil of gladness, the oil of hope in the one who suffered, died and rose from the dead and seals us with the gift of his Holy Spirit.

St. Ann's Oil is available in the Shrine Gift Shop.