Chrism

(Gr. chrisma, “anointing”). A mixture of oil and balsam is used by the Roman and Byzantine churches in certain liturgical ceremonies-in the conferment of the three sacraments which claim to put a special mark on the soul and strengthen it spiritually (baptism, confirmation, ordination) and in the consecration of churches, chalices, patens, and the blessing of church bells and baptismal water. There is a very detailed and formal procedure for the consecration of chrism, which in the Roman Church is done by a bishop on Maundy Thursday. Christ Himself was supposed to have used chrism, but the evidence is not authentic-although it was used by the early Christians. Allegorically, the olive oil symbolizes strength, and the balsam the fragrance of virtue.