Touchless Holy Water Font?

Yikes. Someone, no doubt well-intentioned, got the idea to create a holy water font that pretty much wrecks the idea of recalling one’s baptism with holy water. There’s American ingenuity for you.

Apparently you put your hand under it and it dispenses a few drops, like the automatic soap dispenser in public restrooms. No visible body in sight of, you know, water. No plunging of your hand into the baptismal waters. Just a bit of auto-dispense.

It seems to me that if we’re in a pandemic situation so dire that we aren’t able to use holy water in any meaningful way, then we just shouldn’t use holy water. We’ll survive. And then, someday, when we’re ready, we can once again have huge fonts with lots of water that communicate something meaningful to us about God’s abundantly flowing grace.




  1. This is bad, but not hopeless. It’s tacky and americanized, yes, but it also speaks to an underlying desire from the people (or at least the marketing consultants who supposedly know what people want). I’m sure people were similarly horrified when someone put a small stoop with a sponge in it beside a doorway.

    I’ve seen these throughout the pandemic – at least now someone is selling one that’s been dressed up in wood rather than the plastic ones I’ve seen.

    If people are indeed this insistent on needing holy water, perhaps pastors and liturgical planners should make the sprinkling rite a normal part of Sunday worship.

    1. “I’m sure people were similarly horrified when someone put a small stoop with a sponge in it beside a doorway.”

      I remain horrified by that. 🙂

  2. From an infection control perspective this device is totally useless. Wood is porous and can’t be cleaned to a high enough standard to remove traces of bacteria or viral droplets. Potentially, having hundreds of people use this device increases the opportunity of accidentally touching the wood surround and therefore acting as a vector for disease.

    I also think that the idea that wood is a more holy and therefore appropriate material than plastic is highly dubious – sure it’s a more worthy natural material but in this case it defeats the functional purpose.

    1. Just for informational purposes wood is no more difficult to sanitize than plastic according to USDA guidelines for cleaning cutting boards.

      That said, in the picture it looks like the wood is entirely decorative and unlikely to be a source of contamination. And, in the end, I agree with Fr. Ruff – if it is that much of a concern, just don’t do it. At my parish they did away with water in the font for a time, but as more data became available and the concern about holy water as a source of Covid infection diminished, they brought it back, but as a precaution, they change the water frequently through out the week.

    1. Thanks for the reminder, Rita. I just re-read my post, to refresh my memory, and was somewhat surprised by how positive the sensory experience had been for me :). But this also makes me say: maybe it would be good to acknowledge actual embodied sensory experience in this whole discussion?

  3. We have a large font in the baptistery with circulating water containing a little chlorine. Hundreds of worshippers have been blessing themselves with this water every weekend and have been doing so for months without any breakouts of disease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *