The Last Rites are often talked of in hushed, or reverential, tones in writing as well as conversation. In fiction, as in biography, they mark the approach of death. The last rites are those sacraments administered, in the Roman Catholic church, to members who are thought to be on the point of death, or at least seriously ill. They are:
- Penance, if the person receiving the last rites is conscious;
- anointing of the sick; and
- the last Eucharist, or viaticum (a Latin word meaning 'provision for a journey': here, the preparation for the journey into the afterlife).
To read that "the priest had been sent for", "the priest had been three times during the crisis of his illness" or similar is an indication that the patient had not been expected to survive.
Don't confuse the spelling - it is not a person's 'last