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Catholic Dictionary




The laying on of hands on a person or thing to convey the communication of some favor, power, duty, or blessing. Patriarchs in the Old Testament used it in blessing children, in consecrating priests, and in sacrifice. In the New Testament it is shown with Christ performing miracles and with the Apostles conferring the sacraments, especially the priesthood. Catholic liturgy employs it now in public baptism, confirmation, and anointing of the sick and holy orders; in other rites and blessings such as exorcisms and before the consecration of the Mass when the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine.