clasped hands LDS endowment


Why this website?
Site contents
About the endowment


The Initiatory
The Endowment Proper
 The Creation
 The Garden
 The Telestial World
 The Terrestrial World
 The Veil


Baptism for the dead
Second anointing


Historical documents
Masonic parallels
The endowment on film
Garments & temple clothes
Suggested readings

[The second anointing is an extension of the initiatory. One could say, in fact, that the second anointing completes the initiatory: where the initiatory promises future blessings contingent on initiates' faithfulness, the second anointing actually bestows those blessings. Unlike the endowment or temple marriage, the second anointing is not regarded as essential for salvation. Relatively few Saints receive the second anointing; indeed, the rite is so rarely spoken of that most Saints around the globe are probably unaware it exists. Presumably the rite is administered to General Authorities and their wives, as well as to other couples with whom the hierarchy is acquainted, in recognition of extraordinary faithfulness.]

[The outline of the second anointing that appears on this website is adapted from an anonymous description used by David John Buerger for his book, The Mysteries of Godliness. That description, which has been posted elsewhere on the Internet, is consistent with records of second anointings from the nineteenth century. To read some sample second anointings, go to the Historical documents page.]


[The second anointing is administered only to married couples, on the recommendation of a member of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve, and under the direction of the President of the Church. Only the first portion of the second anointing--the anointing itself--can be performed vicariously for the dead.]

[Before a couple can receive the second anointing, the husband must receive the ordinance of washing of feet under the direction of the President of the Church. The washing of feet is administered in the Holy of Holies, or in a sealing room set apart for this purpose.]


[The rite of anointing is administered in the Holy of Holies, or in another room set apart for that purpose. The rite is performed by the President of the Church, or under his direction. Normally, two witnesses are present.]

[For this rite, husband and wife wear the robes of the holy priesthood. It is not necessary for the officiator to do so.]

Prayer Circle

[The husband leads a prayer circle, using the true order of prayer taught in the endowment. He offers the signs of the tokens of the holy priesthood, then prays at the altar.]

Anointing of the Husband

[The officiator anoints the husband's head with oil. The officiator then lays hands on the husband's head and ordains him a king and a priest to the Most High God, to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever.]

[The officiator pronounces upon the husband additional blessings as the Spirit directs. Typically he is blessed with the Holy Spirit of promise; the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the power to bind and loose, curse and bless; the power to live as long as life is desirable; the power to open the heavens; the power to attain to Godhood; and the sealing up to eternal life.]

Anointing of the Wife

[The officiator anoints the wife's head with oil. The officiator then lays hands on the wife's head and ordains her a queen and a priestess to her husband, to rule and reign with him in his kingdom forever.]

[The officiator pronounces upon the wife additional blessings as the Spirit directs. Typically, she is blessed to live as long as life is desirable; to receive all the blessings of the everlasting priesthood; to be an heir to all the blessings sealed upon her husband; to be exalted to her husband's exaltation; to have ministering angels to attend her; to attain to Godhood; to have posterity without end; and to be sealed up to eternal life.]


[The couple receives a charge, including an injunction not to disclose the fact that they have received the second anointing. The couple is then taught how to administer the second part of the ordinance, the washing of feet in preparation for the husband's burial, which the couple will perform in their own home.]

[The anointing is recorded by hand in a leather-bound register.]


[The washing of feet in preparation for burial is performed in the couple's home at a time of their own choosing. In this portion of the rite, the couple officiate for themselves.]


[The husband dedicates the home and a room in which to perform the rite.]

Washing and Anointing for Burial

[The wife washes and anoints her husband according to the pattern given in John 12. Thus what the wife does is in memorial of what Mary did. The rite is understood to prepare the husband for burial and to give the wife claim on him in the resurrection.]

[Having authority, the wife pronounces upon her husband whatever blessings the Spirit directs.]


  1. The washing of feet referred to here must not be confused with the washing of feet in preparation for burial which occurs as part of the second anointing itself. Presumably, the washing of feet referred to here is the ordinance described in D&C 88:138-141.

  2. During the initiatory, the husband was anointed, not ordained, preparatory to becoming a king and a priest, hereafter to rule and reign. Those qualifiers are not present in the second anointing.

  3. Historical records indicate that some couples have waited years after their anointing before performing the second portion of the ordinance.

  4. The dedication of a home is a simple rite commonly practiced by Latter-day Saints apart from the second anointing. The rite consists of a prayer invoking God's blessings on the home. Traditionally, this prayer is offered by a prieshood holder, though recent Church publications have stated that this need not be the case. In the context of the second anointing, the dedication by the husband seems to consecrate the home for sacred purposes, much like a temple dedication.

  5. There are several things to consider in making sense of this portion of the second anointing. First, the rite is apparently inspired by the story of the woman who anointed Jesus in anticipation of his death. This story is found in three of the four Gospels (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; and John 12:1-8. A similar, though distinct, story appears in Luke 7:36-50). Only John's version of the story identifies the woman as Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus; in other versions of the story, the woman is anonymous. All three versions of the story state that the woman anoints Jesus for his burial. In the synoptic version of the story (found in Matthew and Mark), Jesus declares that what the woman has done will be spoken of as a memorial for her wherever the gospel is preached.

    The Gospels present the woman's anointing of Jesus as a prophetic gesture attesting to his immanent death. The second anointing takes this incident as the pattern for an esoteric rite by which a wife symbolically prepares her husband for burial, thus securing her position as heir to his blessings. When nineteenth-century LDS authorities preached that Jesus and Mary of Bethany were husband and wife, they were no doubt reading John 12:1-8 as a literal description of Jesus' second anointing. (Most contemporary Saints would regard those pronouncements as speculation, not doctrine.)

    The idea that the anointing described in the Gospels is an ordinance meant to be repeated by others probably grows out of Jesus' statement about the woman being memorialized wherever the gospel is preached. It is perhaps noteworthy that the only other LDS ordinance spoken of as a memorial is the sacrament, which is taken in remembrance of Christ's body and blood.

    While this portion of the second anointing is referred to in historical records as the washing and anointing of feet, the records indicate that portions of the body other than the feet were washed and anointed as well. One record speaks of anointing the feet, head, and stomach; another speaks of being washed and anointed "from head to foot." The rite would thus seem to resemble the initiatory. The fact that this rite is known as the washing of feet is probably due to the fact that feet are the focus of the story in John 12 (as well as in Luke 7). In John 12:3, Mary is described as anointing Jesus' feet and then wiping them with her hair.

  6. Note that this is the same formula used in the initiatory, where women officiate for other women. Here the wife officiates for her husband in her capacity as his priestess.

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