QUESTION 33: OF THE REPETITION OF THIS SACRAMENT
We must now consider the repetition of this sacrament: under which head
there are two points of inquiry:
(1) Whether this sacrament ought to be repeated?
(2) Whether it ought to be repeated during the same sickness?
Article 1: Whether this sacrament ought to be repeated?
Objection 1: It would seem that this sacrament ought not to be repeated. For
the anointing of a man is of greater import than the anointing of a
stone. But the anointing of an altar is not repeated, unless the altar be
shattered. Neither, therefore, should Extreme Unction, whereby a man is
anointed, be repeated.
Objection 2: Further, nothing comes after what is extreme. But this unction is
called extreme. Therefore it should not be repeated.
On the contrary, This sacrament is a spiritual healing applied under
the form of a bodily cure. But a bodily cure is repeated. Therefore this
sacrament also can be repeated.
I answer that, No sacramental or sacrament, having an effect that lasts
for ever, can be repeated, because this would imply that the sacrament
had failed to produce that effect; and this would be derogatory to the
sacrament. On the other hand a sacrament whose effect does not last for
ever, can be repeated without disparaging that sacrament, in order that
the lost effect may be recovered. And since health of body and soul,
which is the effect of this sacrament, can be lost after it has been
effected, it follows that this sacrament can, without disparagement
thereto, be repeated.
Reply to Objection 1: The stone is anointed in order that the altar may be
consecrated, and the stone remains consecrated, as long as the altar
remains, hence it cannot be anointed again. But a man is not consecrated
by being anointed, since it does not imprint a character on him. Hence
there is no comparison.
Reply to Objection 2: What men think to be extreme is not always extreme in
reality. It is thus that this sacrament is called Extreme Unction,
because it ought not to be given save to those whose death men think to
Article 2: Whether this sacrament ought to be repeated during the same sickness?
Objection 1: It would seem that this sacrament ought not to be repeated during
the same sickness. For one disease demands one remedy. Now this sacrament
is a spiritual remedy. Therefore it ought not to be repeated for one
Objection 2: Further, if a sick man could be anointed more than once during
one disease, this might be done for a whole day: which is absurd.
On the contrary, Sometimes a disease lasts long after the sacrament has
been received, so that the remnants of sin, against which chiefly this
sacrament is given, would be contracted. Therefore it ought to be given
I answer that, This sacrament regards not only the sickness, but also
the state of the sick man, because it ought not to be given except to
those sick people who seem, in man's estimation, to be nigh to death. Now
some diseases do not last long; so that if this sacrament is given at the
time that the sick man is in a state of danger of death, he does not
leave that state except the disease be cured, and thus he needs not to be
anointed again. But if he has a relapse, it will be a second sickness,
and he can be anointed again. on the other hand some diseases are of long
duration, as hectic fever, dropsy and the like, and those who lie sick of
them should not be anointed until they seem to be in danger of death. And
if the sick man escape that danger while the disease continues, and be
brought again thereby to the same state of danger, he can be anointed
again, because it is, as it were, another state of sickness, although
strictly speaking, it is not another sickness. This suffices for the
Replies to the Objections.