Scottish Catholic shrine gets tech salvation for holy water drought – dpa international


Empty holy water font at an Irish church entrance (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — With concerns about coronavirus leaving most Catholic churchgoers without their cherished holy water, a prototype contactless dispenser is being trialled at a shrine in Scotland.

In use starting this week at Carfin Grotto in the town of Motherwell, the device resembles a water-cooler or liquid soap dispenser and is activated by cupping a hand near a sensor positioned under the water.

A video posted on the Carfin Grotto Facebook page shows the dispenser in action, with the narrator thanking a parishioner named Paul Lawlor and a local tech firm known as Lawlor Techologies for the device.

“One of the things we’ve been missing the most,” the narrator said, “is blessing ourselves with holy water.”

“Let’s hope other Churches will pick up on this idea!” read one of the 105 comments on the clip.

Upon entering a Catholic church, a believer traditionally dips his or her fingers into stone fonts containing holy water before performing the Sign of the Cross.

To believing Catholics, water is made holy after a blessing by a priest. The use of holy water while praying is meant to evoke the Christian baptism ceremomy.

But as the novel coronavirus spread from Asia to Europe in February, even the holy water fonts in St. Peter’s Basilica were emptied over fears that an infected person’s hands could pass on the virus.

Churches have reopened across Europe during the past two months after new daily case numbers started to fall in many countries.

Most churches are implementing hygiene and social distancing measures, with attendance limits in place for services.

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