Holy oils abbreviations?

Hello, dear CAF-ers!

I’m kinda confused about this…but what do the abbreviations for oil stock stand for? I’ve seen different abbreviations, so I’m wondering if there is a definitive reference. The one’s I’m referencing are OS, SC, OI, as seen below. However, I’ve definitely seen SC (sacrum chrisma/sacred chrism), OC (oleum catechumenorum/oil of catechumens), and OI (oelum infirmorum/oil of the sick); these make sense when you’re thinking in terms of the mother tongue of the Roman rite. The ones I’m wondering about are found in the picture, because I can’t decipher them and they seem a little…confused.

Thank y’all for the help!



OS stands for “Oleum Sanctum” which is simply a different way of marking the oil stocks for the Oil of Catechumens. Not “Olea Sacra” which refers to all 3 oils collectively and is often written on the outside of the ambry (the tabernacle-like case that houses the oils)—just an aside.

Using the OC is actually a relatively new practice, and many parishes (including my own) still have older stocks that use OI SC & OS (instead of OC).

It’s relatively new practice. Oil stocks are made of sturdy stuff and they last a very, very, very long time. One set that my parish owns (that I still use) goes back at least to World War 2, and there’s no telling now if it was already used (can we say "gently pre-owned?) when they acquired it.

I have another set that is probably at least 100 years old (more likely 19th century but I cannot prove it).

The old ones all use OS instead of OC for Oil of Catechumens.

Apparently, they still use OS in India as well (I’m guessing that’s where the picture came from?)

My personal speculation on the OS use is that there were few true catechumens being anointed, since most baptisms happen in infancy, and the Church’s actual practice of a true Catechumenate (that is, RCIA) had fallen into disuse.

Wow! :eek: You’re a wealth of information, Father :smiley: thank you!