An act of reparation for an injury; in Christian theology usually the payment of a penalty due to God on account of sin. St Anselm gave the term theological currency in reference to the Atonement by interpreting Christ's death as a vicarious satisfaction for the world's sins.
In Catholic theology satisfaction is held to be a necessary element in the sacrament of Penance. With the attenuation of penances and the practice of giving absolution before satisfaction was made, the distinction between forgiveness of the fault and the satisfaction due to it after forgiveness was worked out clearly; the classic example adduced was the penance inflicted on David after Nathan had pronounced God's forgiveness (2 Sam. 12: 13–14). Thus satisfactio operis came to be regarded as a necessary means of avoiding punishment in purgatory after the sin itself had been remitted by sacramental absolution.
Subjects: Christianity — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).