What is Viaticum?
The last Sacrament of Christian life is Viaticum- the reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in Eucharist just before death. According to our Lord, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:54). The Eucharist, the Sacrament of Jesus once dead and now risen, is the Christian seed of eternal life and the power of resurrection from the dead.
When is Viaticum celebrated?
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick should be celebrated at the beginning of a serious illness. Viaticum, celebrated when death is close, will then be better understood as the last Sacrament of Christian life. (Pastoral Care of the Sick, Rite of Anointing and Viaticum, paragraph 175)
Just as the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist form a unity called the “Sacraments of Christian initiation”, so too can it be said that Penance, the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist as Viaticum constitute at the end of Christian life, “the sacraments that prepare us for our heavenly homeland” or the sacraments that complete the earthly pilgrimage. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1525)