What is Holy Water? History of Holy Water

holy water

Holy Water is widely used in many different religions from Catholicism and Lutheranism to Oriental Orthodoxy. Holy Water is water which has been blessed for the purposes of baptisms, blessing of persons, places, and objects, or for use against evil.

History of Holy Water

Early documented Christian use of Holy Water has been attributed to the Apostle Matthew.

Apostle Matthew
Apostle Matthew – image by blogspot.com

However, it has been speculated that in earlier Christian times, water was used to make atonement and for purifying purposes. Water traditionally used for the Sacrament of Baptism comes from a flowing source such as a sea or river. A different blessing is performed on the water which does not flow, but is contained in baptisteries.

Water used for Sacrament of Baptism comes from flowing source – image by stchrisparishnh.org

In the Catholic religion, Holy Water is placed in small containers called stoups or fonts, which are usually placed at the entrances of the church. Upon entering the church, Catholics dip their fingers in the water and make the sign of the cross as a reminder and renewal of baptism.

holy water stoup
Holy Water Stoup – image by itraveluk.co.uk

A similar practice is performed for cleansing of venial sin. In rare instances, the Church uses Holy Water as part of an exorcism, evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place.

Holy Water and the Holy Spirit

It is widely believed that Holy Water, when blessed, is empowered in some manner by the Holy Spirit. Just as the Bible describes the Holy Spirit appearing as Jesus is baptized, it is commonly held to be true that the same authority, which is God’s power, becomes a part of the water.

Holy Water is empowered in some manner by the Holy Spirit – image by fatherduffy.com

The water can be used as both a blessing and for protection of sorts. It is not uncommon for people, objects, or even homes to be sprinkled with Holy Water and blessed.

Holy Water and our World Today

With so many traditional uses of Holy Water, its modern use and availability seems to be diminishing its religious value. Holy Water has been attributed to outbreaks of health issues as a result of the presence of bacteria.

Holy Water has been attributed to outbreaks of health issues – image by wild941.com

As a result of this health issue, some churches have invested in Holy Water dispensing machines similar to what you might use for dispensing soap or hand sanitizer. Others have engineered the city plumbing system so that a water spout will provide bacteria free water.

The power and religious use of Holy Water has become so popular around the world today that many churches, as well as entrepreneurial stores, sell Holy Water to those who would like their own personal supply.

hloy water
Many churches sell Holy Water – image by newsweek.com

Special Holy Water bottles have also been manufactured with religious pictures or phrases and sold to allow people to collect their own water. A few churches have even made collecting your own Holy Water effortless by using the church’s plumbing as the source. Providing Holy Water this way allows people to take and use as much water as they wish.

Holy Water bottle – image by osvnews.com


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