What is per diem?

The first thing to do to determine the meaning of the term viaticum is to discover its etymological origin. In this sense, it should be noted that it is a word that derives from the Latin, from “viaticum”, which in turn comes from “via”.

“Viaticum” was used to refer to the provision of food and money that a person needed to travel. However, during the Middle Ages it was used to refer to a tax levied on everyone who wished to travel along a road that belonged to the lands of a feudal lord. The concept, therefore, is used to name the money or species that are given to a person for sustenance during a journey. For example: “The daily allowance that the company gave me is barely enough to eat”, “I still haven’t received the daily allowance from last month… do you know what happens?” , “As I spent little on food, there was money left over for the daily rate. ”

The travel allowance can be awarded to the traveler before departure, so that he/she has means of subsistence during the trip. Suppose an employee of a multinational company is sent from Chile to Germany to attend a conference. This person’s boss gives him the daily allowance before he leaves, so he can pay for his hotel, food and travel on German soil. In other cases, the daily rate is paid after the expense. A young man who raises money for a technology company makes several trips a day, spending money on train, subway and bus tickets. Every day, when the end of the day arrives, he presents the transport vouchers to the company’s administration and receives the corresponding money. This means that if the worker spent 45 pesos on travel expenses, he gets them back. In the field of religion, viaticum is called the sacrament that is given to a sick person who is about to die. This sacrament consists in giving communion to the dying person in preparation for his departure. This religious “rite” comes from an ancient Greco-Roman ritual in which a coin was introduced into the mouth of the deceased, under the tongue, as a way of paying the tax for the passage to Hades. This coin was known as “obolus”, the Greek term, and also as “viaticum”, the Latin concept. Viaticum, in this sense, giving communion to the dying, it is established that it should not take place in some specific circumstances. It is exactly stated that it should not be done when the person in question cannot swallow, when he is unconscious or directly when he absolutely refuses to receive that sacrament. Of course, this process is carried out by the parish priest, who must carry it out when it is clear that the dying person is still in full use of his mental faculties.

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