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Seven Sacraments

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he English term sacrament derives from the Latin sacramentum (“signs”). The sacraments of the Christian church are foundational and significant actions or rituals in which believers participate to confirm faith. The ceremonies are understood to be outward, material signs of invisible realities and were developed in the early Christian period, partially mirroring certain actions and teachings of Jesus as recounted in the Gospels and interpreted by early theologians (e.g., Saint *Augustine). The definition and form of the sacraments was an issue of much discussion through the Middle Ages, with as many as thirty sacraments being defined by authors such as *Hugh of Saint-Victor in the twelfth century. The codification of Seven Sacraments was developed by *Peter Lombard in the twelfth century, adopted by Saint *Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, and formally accepted at church councils in the mid-fifteenth century. (They were revised variously later in the Reformation period.) The Seven Sacraments are Baptism, Confirmation , the Eucharist, Reconciliation (or Penance), Anointing of the Sick (or Extreme Unction), Ordination , and Marriage —all of which appear illustrated in various artistic contexts—as narrative episodes in the lives of *Christ, the Virgin *Mary, and other holy figures and as illustrations in liturgical manuals and handbooks. See for example: * Ars moriendi , *Baptism, *Benediction, *Communion of the Apostles, *Death, *Last Supper, *Washing of the Feet.

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