Coptic Church · History & Tradition · Rites & Rituals

Tradition of the HOLY MYRON OIL

The Holy myron oil, is the oil used in the sacrament of confirmation to annoit the newly baptised as a way of them obtaining the Holy Spirit.

The Lord Jesus instituted it when He said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom these believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39).

The Baptised is anointed with 36 signs on his joints and senses so that the Holy Spirit can dwell within them. His body and soul becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit. By this anointment, God grants the grace of confirmation to the baptized as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Anointing the external organs by the Myron oil denotes anointing the power of the internal soul and its spiritual senses by the power of God to fight the hosts of evil and its power. This is because the Myron is the most powerful weapon against the devil and the best protection against sin and its seduction.

Our fathers the apostles granted this Sacrament by the laying of their hands after Baptism, as we read in the Book of Acts when St. Peter and St. John laid hands on the people of Samaria who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and so received the Holy Spirit,  (Acts 9:2-6).

As the laying of hands for the dwelling of the Holy Spirit is a specific rite of the fathers the Apostles and their successors the Bishops, and as the regions of mission increased, consequently the number of believers and those who entered faith increased. It was not possible for the Apostles to wander through all the countries and cities to lay hands on the baptised, so they established anointment by Myron as an alternative for the laying on of the hands for the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.

The first who made the Myron were the fathers the Apostles as they kept certain fragrant oils which were on the body of the Lord Jesus during His burial, and they added the spices which were brought by the women who prepared them to anoint Jesus, but Christ had risen.

They melted all these spices in pure olive oil, prayed on it in the Upper Room in Zion and made it a holy ointment to grant the gift of the Holy Spirit to the baptized. It is also used in the Sanctification of Baptismal water, ordination of Churches, and church altars and vessels. They decided that their successors the Bishops, must renew the making of the Myron whenever it is close to finishing, by incorporating the original oil with the new.

When St. Mark went to Alexandria, he took with him some of the Myron oil made by the fathers the Apostles. He used it in the Sacrament of Chrism, as well as the Patriarchs who succeeded him. This continued until the era of Pope Athanasius the Apostolic – the 20th Patriarch, who then decided to remake the Myron in Alexandria.

Hence, he prepared all of the needed perfumes and spices from which God ordered Moses to make the Holy ointment as mentioned in the Book of Exodus (Chapter 30), with pure olive oil. Then the sanctification of the Myron was fulfilled in Alexandria, and Pope Athanasius was  entrusted with the holy oil (leaven), which contained spices which touched the Lord’s body whilst in the tomb, as well as the original oil which had been prepared by the Apostles and brought to Egypt by St. Mark. He distributed the oil to the churches abroad : to the See of Rome, Antioch and Constantinople, together with a document of its authenticity, and the patriarchs rejoiced in receiving it..

What is joyous and comforting, is that whoever is baptised, is anointed by the Myron which contains the spices which were laid on the body of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Myron oil consists of about 30 kinds of spices and perfumes which have been added to pure olive oil and simmered four times.  The filtered oil is then poured into a large container and after the Liturgy of the Sanctification of the Myron, the Patriarch places the old leaven in the Myron recently made, whilst saying certain prayers.

The Ghaliloun oil comprises the remaining fibers of the filtered oil after it having been simmered four times. It is then sanctified by a special Mass, which follows the Myron Mass.

The mixture of the Myron and the Ghaliloun oil, is composed of about 30 kinds of spices, some of which are: myrrh, aloes, frankincense, cinnamon, cassia, sweet-swelling cane, thistle, balsam and ambergris.  The last substance added into the mixture is the fragrant musk.

According to the Apostolic Canons, the priest baptises the child in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and anoints them with the Holy Myron. This is to take place only after renouncing Satan and professing Christ has been done.

Bishop Mettaous

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