The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

A holy water font for the swine flu era

Necessity is the mother of invention, of course, and an Italian inventor — sensing a necessity — has invented something that blends the sacred with the sensible:

-1.jpgThe terracotta dispenser, used in the northern town of Fornaci di Briosco, functions like an automatic soap dispenser in public washrooms — a churchgoer waves his or her hand under a sensor and the machine spurts out holy water.


“It has been a bit of a novelty. People initially were a bit shocked by this technological innovation but then they welcomed it with great enthusiasm and joy. The members of this parish have got used to it,” said Father Pierangelo Motta.

Catholics entering and leaving churches usually dip their hands into fonts full of holy water — which has been blessed by a priest — and make the sign of the cross.

But fear of contracting the H1N1 virus has led many in Italy — where some 15 people have died of swine flu — not to dip their hands in the communal water font.

“It’s great,” said worshipper Marta Caimm as she entered the church. “Thanks to this we are not worried about catching swine flu. It is the right thing for the times,” she said.

Now, if someone could just come up with a sanitary chalice…

Comments read comments(23)
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Mr Flapatap

posted November 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm

“Now, if someone could just come up with a sanitary chalice…”
Please, do not go there. I can imagine what some people would come up with. I could see Purell wipes instead of purificators to wipe the chalice after each communicant…

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posted November 11, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Anyone who worries about catching anything from a chalice that holds the precious blood of Jesus has little faith.

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posted November 11, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Oh dear! has faith died. I would like to remind people that Holy Water is a very powerful sacramental, it has been blessed by God himself through his beloved sons priests. I have had a personal experience of Holy water being used on a very sick person, and witnessed its very powerful effect.
I disagree strongly that using a dispenser is the right thing for the times we live. Remember the parable of the mustard seed. If only this faith could be lived out then all sort of viruses and diseases would be wiped out.

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Ellen Stechschulte

posted November 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm

I know how to solve the chalice problem: some sort of squirt gun where Jesus’ Holy Blood (the Wine) is squirted into the recipients mouth…. I have heard that the combination of the alcohol in the wine with the gold of the chalice effectively kills any bacteria or virus’, the only problem is that in my parish glass chalices are used.
Is there any truth to the gold / wine combo?

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posted November 11, 2009 at 9:19 pm

the Faithful come to be nourished body, mind and soul at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass… germs, “bugs” and viruses have been around a lot longer than H1N1…God in His infinite wisdom trumps any and all bacteria ! anyone ever been to Lourdes? explain the miraculous healing waters not ever causing a problem to the millions of pilgrims over the last 150 years, not to mention the countless healings that have taken place there…all without sanitary dispensers, no less ! Lord, I believe, help my unbelief ! God bless us, everyone !

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Kathryn Schutz

posted November 11, 2009 at 11:22 pm

Utterly brilliant. Holy Water is so profound a protection against the devil that we cannot do without it.

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posted November 11, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I use HOLY WATER when my children are sick! I use Holy water to bless my home, cars and kids….it’s not average water and neither is the blood of Christ in the chalice – these certainly are frightening times.

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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted November 12, 2009 at 6:16 am

I have very mixed feelings about all this… I think we need to be wise and to have faith.
There are tons of germs on the backs of pews, on the missals, on the doors to the church – many more than would be on the chalice.
I am not one to overly dwell on the presence of evil, although I am aware of its presence. That said, I think that anything that drives us to not touch/taste/eat/drink Jesus and contact with one another is in fact the presence of that evil.

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posted November 12, 2009 at 8:14 am

Not sure about gold, but wine is a fine antiseptic. That is why wine and beer were invented — they are water-purification chemicals. Until very recent times the only safe way to drink water was beer, wine or broth (broth, of course, having been boiled.) That’s what makes this conversation amusing — wine and purell in fact share the same antiseptic ingredient.
Our protestant brethren, some of whom do not consume alcohol, have invented the little plastic individual serving. They have even worked out the minimum percent alcohol with which it is safe to share a common cup.
The Orthodox, of course, mix both species together and use a spoon.

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posted November 12, 2009 at 9:00 am

Can they make those holy water fonts out of marble, or are they only available in plastic?
With all of the “safety precautions”, I’m reminded that we are a society that fears the one who can harm the body more than the one who can harm the soul. There are too many people out there who would be just as happy to take the holy water fonts out all together (not just during Lent!)

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posted November 12, 2009 at 9:02 am

Oh sorry, it’s terra cotta!

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Mary Beth

posted November 12, 2009 at 9:36 am

What has happened to: “Jesus I Trust In You”? These are the times and difficulties Our Lord has prepared us for with spiritual protections. Blessed Water as well as all sacramentals used with Faith are protections. We don’t have to use so-called human precautions with them. Have FAITH AND TRUST!

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posted November 12, 2009 at 10:05 am

I feel God is bigger than that and we are thinking with our finite minds. The enemy instills fear and is loving this.
I agree, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
Holy Water is a sacramental and it makes the ‘enemy’ flee. We NEED to bless ourselves.
Pretty soon people are going to be walking around in their haz mat suits!

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posted November 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

We need to trust in God when we start to fear man things I find this scary more so then the flu! I use the Holy Water for Blessings and I drink the Blood of Christ because I need him in my soul I fear not because HE is with and within me! Fear the Lord!

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Deacon Garth

posted November 12, 2009 at 11:08 am

Thanks for posting this Deacon Greg, I thought it hilarious. I bet God felt the same!

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posted November 12, 2009 at 11:46 am

I agree – Let us trust in Jesus – How can we be hurt from the true body and blood of Christ? I think all of this histeria and precautions to, protect against God is rediculous. Let the faithful choose but give us the choice!

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Carol & Jerry

posted November 12, 2009 at 11:54 am

We do live in scary insecure times.
Holy Mass & the Sacraments will give us strength always!
Best thing to do for the time being & always, is keep Holy Water at home. Just take an empty bottle with your home water & have Father bless it. Make sure he puts in Blessed salt too, some forget that important ingredient.
Jesus, Mary, & Joseph we love you, save Souls.

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posted November 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I agree with the others who say “trust.” If in fact, my fate was to die as a result of a dip in Holy Water before mass, well, what a way to go! I don’t even agree with the changes in communion, which IMO, don’t change a darn thing in “human terms.” What’s next, a drop down video screen like the Protestants so we don’t have to hold the germ infested mass and song books?

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posted November 12, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Holy water is supposed to be used when you are sick. Isn’t that the point of using holy water? Many blessings have come to my family through the use of holy water. I cannot imagine *not* using it.
The blessings that come through the use of holy water are from the most holy triune God. And of course, Jesus, the divine physician.
“Of whom should I be afraid” – Certainly not, H1N1.

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posted November 12, 2009 at 10:45 pm

How can you catch the flu from dipping your fingers in the Holy Water font? You aren’t supposed to drink it!!

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Your Name

posted November 12, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Kudos to the one reminding us that the chalice contains the Blood of Christ, Not wine — in all these centuries there has not been one proof of any illness, disease, or whatever term you wish that has been passed on by sharing the Blood of Christ

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Your Name

posted November 13, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Its the comments that are freakin’ hilarious!
I had no idea superstition was so rampant among Catholics.
Is there some reason for us to believe bacteria and virii cannot live in the presence of the Body of He who made them?

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posted November 13, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Add blessed salt to the blessed water causes the blessed water to become a disinfectant that will kill germs. In the wisdom of the Church Blessed Salt has been added to Holy Water for ages. The modern Church just to rediscover what the Church has known for a very long time… A tried and proven sacramental of ages gone past. And besides it is rumored that the Blessed Salt added to Holy Water stings the devil!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph

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