anathema

Greek: placed on high, as were offerings to the divinity in the “temples

Word used in the Old Testament to mean something offered to God (Jud., 16); applied also to odious things, such as the head of an enemy, or of a felon, when exposed to view, hence execrable, accursed. Applied to the enemies of the Jews, it meant they were to be outcast and even exterminated. In the New Testament, Saint Paul the Apostle used it to express exclusion from the society, or communion, of the faithful the same as minor excommunication (Galatians 1). It was used in this sense of sinners and heretics from the 5th to the 8th century, when it came to mean not only minor excommunication, but expulsion or major excommunication from the Church, promulgated solemnly by the pope.