Holy Bacteria, Bat Man. There’s Poo in That Font …

… And now for today’s media induced hysterics.

Oh no! Stop the presses. Holy water may contain fecal matter!
Avoid it like the Black Death!

Despite its purported cleansing properties, holy water could actually be more harmful than healing, according to a new Austrian study on “holy” springs.

Researchers at the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna tested water from 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna and found samples contained up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, none of it safe to drink.

Tests indicated 86 percent of the holy water, commonly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet congregants’ lips, was infected with common bacteria found in fecal matter such as E. coli, enterococci and Campylobacter, which can lead to diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.

Nitrates, commonly found in fertilizer from farms, were also identified in the water. If ingested, water containing nitrates over the maximum contaminant level could cause serious illness, especially in infants younger than 6 months, which could lead to death if untreated, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. [Source]

You know what else could potentially cause illness and death? How about every-freaking-thing.

A few people have commented that no one drinks holy water or wets their lips with it. I think the author is confusing the practice of kissing the hand we use to cross ourselves with “lip wetting”. Hispanics know what I’m talking about here.

I actually remember my Abuela cooking with the holy water she scooped right out of those “nasty” wall fonts. Seriously. She’d just waltz into church and scoop her refills right out of that stagnant water font. And you know what? I didn’t die. And no one who ate her cooking suffered from violent diarrhea afterwards. Amazing isn’t it, how humanity has survived this long.

You know what else holy water is good for? Your hair and complexion. It’s how I stay so fabulous. Holy Water, because I’m worth it…

So yeah… my take away from this is proof in my mind of the supernatural power of sacramentals. Just as no one dies or gets sick from drinking out of the same chalice.

I imagine if anything is a carrier of death, doom, and disease it’s that insipid Sign of Peace during mass, which has no sacramental super powers what so ever. That, that right there we can kibosh.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    Asami Sato, for the win!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      That’s awesome you recognize that from the legend of Korra.

      • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

        She’s definitely my favorite non-bender! Shame about her father, but I a good feeling about this new deal she’s working on.

        • InkDuBlog

          I think she’s going to turn out evil. Call me jaded (I mean, Azula much?) but I really think she’s going to be evil.

          • Rebecca Duncan

            At least then she might become interesting.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

            I love how a gif gets more comments than the actual article. :P

  • dianathetraveler


  • Maurisa Mayerle


  • James H, London

    Yet another memelet for the career atheists to bash us with – complete with deliberate misinformation about putting it on the mouth. You can just hear the faux-hysterical laughter.

    It’s gonna happen, people don’t wash their hands, or do it badly, they go to church, eh walla! I’m still standing, as you say.

    I’m still going to do the sign of peace. No-one ever said you’d go to hell for it. At least you’ve made some effort to connect with someone you’ve never met.

    And while we’re on the subject of germs, how about that whole communion-on-the-tongue bit? I’ve had one too many fingertip-touches on the tongue, reverence or not, it’s Ick! I reckon if communion on the hand is allowed (and was good enough for the early church), it’s good enough for me.

    Have I pressed enough buttons, here? :-D

    A Dio!

  • Michael Lindner

    This is the first step in banning it.

  • Caroline Moreschi

    I used to dip the wafer into the chalice until it occurred to me that my dirty fingers had so many germs on them, especially after the sign of the peace…. (I mean, I didn’t stick my fingers in the chalice, but close call).

  • Mark.

    People are horrified that most cell phones have fecal bacteria aplenty on them. I’d be amazed if they hadn’t. Same principle here. One thing I’ll say for those holy water fountains that can double as baptismal fonts, the water at least seems clean.