Anamnesis (from the Attic Greek word ἀνάμνησις meaning "reminiscence" or "memorial sacrifice"), in Christianity, is a liturgical statement in which the Church refers to the memorial character of the Eucharist or to the Passion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. It has its origin in Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "Do this in memory of me" (Ancient Greek: "τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν", (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
In a wider sense, Anamnesis is a key concept in the liturgical theology: in worship the faithful recall God's saving deeds. This memorial aspect is not simply a passive process but one by which the Christian can actually enter into the Paschal mystery.
Anamnesis in the Eucharistic Prayers
Almost all Eucharistic Prayers (or Anaphoras) contain an Anamnesis. This part of the Anaphora is usually placed after the consecration, i.e. after the account of the Last Supper in which are pronounced the Words of Institution spoken by Jesus Christ. The Words of Institution are usually ended by the sentence "Do this in memory of me", which meaning is thus prepared and immediately taken up by the following Anamnenis.
For example, in the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, the Anamnesis begins with the words:
- Remembering, therefore, this command of the Saviour and all that came to pass for our sake, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father and the second, glorious coming...
In the Western Roman Canon the wording of the Anamnesis is:
- Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord...
In the Byzantine Rite, other services besides the Divine Liturgy will have an Anamnesis, such as the Great Sanctification of Waters at Theophany. An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church says of the anamnesis: "This memorial prayer of remembrance recalls for the worshiping community past events in their tradition of faith that are formative for their identity and self-understanding" and makes particular mention of its place in "the various eucharistic prayers".
- Kunzler, Michael (2001). The Church's Liturgy. London: Continuum. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-8264-1353-6.
- Espin, Orlando (2007). An Introductory Dictionary of Theology and Religious Studies. Collegeville: Liturgical Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-8146-5856-7.
- The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostomos The Orthodox Christian Page
- An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians, Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.