What is a "sick box"?


Full Question

I was given an antique "sick box" that my great-grandmother received as a wedding gift in 1911. It is a large wooden wall hanging that contains statues of Mary and Jesus and comes with candles, oil, and holy water. What were these used for, and why do we not use them today?

Answer

A "sick box" was a container of materials meant to help someone offer spiritual comfort to an ill person. The candles and statues may be arranged to facilitate the prayer of and for the sick person, the holy water may be used for blessings appropriate to laypersons, and the holy water and oil may be given to a visiting priest to use for priestly blessings. There’s no reason such materials cannot continue to be used today, although visiting priests usually bring their own oil for the anointing of the sick.