From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Holy hygiene! Beware the font

  (Photo by Lalupa)
Water, a key ingredient of life as we know it, certainly seems holy in its own right.  Nevertheless, a number of religions – including Christianity and Sikhism – consider "holy water" to be that which "has been blessed by a member of a clergy or religious figure."

Wikipedia reports that the use of such "holy water" during Christianity's earliest days is somewhat unclear.  It is probable that the water used for many of the earliest rituals was that of rivers, lakes and seas.

As the centuries went by, churches began to keep holy water in a vessel located near the entrance.  This vessel, which is still
prevalent today, is known as a font or a stoup.

Although "holy," the water within these fonts has sometimes been found to be laden with infectious bacteria.  Good Morning America reported on a study from the University of Vienna which found that 86 percent of the water sampled from 18 fonts in Vienna "was infected with…  E. coli, enterococci and Campylobacteria, which can lead to diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever."

Since this water has been "commonly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet congregants' lips," study researcher Dr. Alexander Kirschner is recommending that "priests regularly change the holy water in churches and erect signs to inform congregants about the dangers…"   


Copyright October 26, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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