On the Wednesday evening of Holy Week, a Liturgy is held at the conclusion of which all the baptised Orthodox Christians in the congregation are anointed with oil, to heal their spiritual and physical ills.
Holy Unction is considered one of the seven sacraments, the others of which are baptism, marriage, chrismation, eucharist, confession, and ordination.
The practice follows Apostolic Tradition, mentioned in the New Testament “…let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).
The full service is composed of psalms from the Old Testament, hymns of direct supplication to God, and prayers to the saints to intercede for the petitioner. In addition, there are seven readings from the Gospels preceded by seven other New Testament writings, notably the epistlesof Saint Paul and Saint James. After each set of scriptural readings, a prayer is offered on behalf of the penitent by the priestasking for forgiveness and the sanctification of the oil. Traditionally, the service is celebrated by seven priests, but where fewer than seven priests are available (which is often the case), it will be served by at least one.
At the end of the service, the priestputs holy oil on the forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, chest, and hands of the parishioners in the form of the cross and blesses the recipient.