Christianity

Signs and Symbols

What is holy water and how do some Christians use it?

Roman and Anglo-Catholics especially are accustomed to blessing themselves when they enter church. They dip their right hand into a font filled with holy water and make the sign of the cross on themselves. Water is also a medium of blessing for a congregation. The celebrant takes a branch (or uses a small sprinkler with a handle) dipped in water and scatters a few drops over the crowd. Water from pilgrimage sites has long been a favorite religious souvenir, sometimes brought home to be given away as gifts or used for its healing properties. For many Christians, this is all an extension of the use of water for the rite of baptism, which in turn recalls how God brought the Israelites safely through the waters of the Red Sea and the Jordan River, and how Jesus was blessed by his cousin John the Baptist.



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