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Muron is a consecrated mixture of oil, flowers, and scents used in the Armenian Apostolic Church in various ritual activities. Traditionally, children are anointed with this mixture when they are baptized into the Armenian Apostolic church, and anointed again at their Confirmation. It is also used to consecrate churches, and to anoint newly-minted priests and political leaders. Being anointed with muron is a form of sacrament in the Armenian Apostolic church.
The tradition of making muron goes back to the fourth century CE, when Saint Gregory the Illuminator introduced Christianity to the region, and made the first batch of soorp muron, as it is known to the Armenians. Oil has long been used for symbolic anointing in many religious traditions, representing light, healing, and nourishment of life. Olive oil, the traditional base ingredient the mixture, represents peace and reconciliation, referencing the olive branch brought to Noah by a dove after the Flood, according to the Bible.
Producing muron is a prolonged process. The various components are blessed before being blended in a cauldron and allowed to cook for three days, after which the mixture rests before being strained and blended with olive oil in a public ceremony. By tradition, the mixture is not left unattended once the process of blending has begun, and a little bit of the last batch is mixed in, thus literally passing the tradition down over the centuries.
Muron is also sometimes called “chrism,” or “holy oil,” in reference to the traditional Catholic chrism. This sacred oil is an important part of the Armenian Apostolic faith. Various other substances are used for blessings, anointings, and sacraments as well, including rosewater and rosemary branches dipped in holy water. These sacred substances are also included in the ritual blessing and blending of the mixture.
Muron is blended every seven years, and upon completion, representatives of the Armenian Apostlic church from all over the world arrive to pick up small bottles of it to take back to their home churches. The vials are transferred to silver containers designed to dispense single drops at a time, preserving the mixture until a new batch is made. Once a priest receives the mixture from the mother church, he cannot leave it unattended, and must preferably maintain physical contact with the container at all times. This caused problems in 2008, when Armenian Apostlics grew concerned about airline regulations prohibiting liquids in the passenger cabin of aircraft. Ultimately, many priests were forced to pack their muron in checked luggage, although this was a violation of tradition.
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