"‘They are anointing the nobleman who owns the castle’"
Seven Sacraments altarpiece depicting Ordination, Marriage and Extreme Unction
Public DomainSeven Sacraments altarpiece depicting Ordination, Marriage and Extreme Unction - Credit: Rogier van der Weyden

This is a reference to one of the sacraments of the Catholic Church known as the anointing of the sick. Today it involves placing oil on the forehead of a person who is seriously ill or dying. Previously, however, Extreme Unction was given only when death was imminent, and involved the anointing of severaI parts of the body.

The term last rites is used to describe the anointing of a dying person in conjunction with the administration of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. An individual’s final Holy Communion is known by the Latin term Viaticum, meaning ‘provisions for a journey’.