Photo Credits: Huffignton Post
Amidst the global crisis caused by coronavirus, COVID-19, spreading through countries and continents, some religious practices have been altered. Catholic churches are taking preventive measures in order to protect parishioners from coronavirus, so some of them are removing access to holy water that has been blessed by a priest in order to repel evil, as Catholics believe. For example, Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Detroit, Michigan, was one of the churches that emptied its holy water fonts. Besides churches in Detroit, the new practice of skipping some religious rituals and not allowing holy water to be shared among parishioners also happened in Miami. The Archdiocese of Miami suggested that holy water fonts at the church doors should be temporarily emptied as a precaution and also asked parishioners to avoid going to church if they feel unwell.
But this is not the only precaution. Besides holy water fonts being dry, churches have also avoided the customary sharing of wine from a community cup, which represents the holy blood of the Christ in Catholic tradition. Another precaution was bypassing of the customary handshake or embrace and hand-holding during religious rituals.
Another example is in Europe where The French shrine, known as Our Lady of Lourders, has shut down its waters that are believed to have healing powers if you bathe in them. The waters have been studied before and those studies shown that they have no healing abilities but still believers bathe in them and also drink them. “Our first concern will always be the safety and health of the pilgrims and the shrine’s working community,” said a note posted Feb. 28 on the shrine’s website, as Patheos reports. “As a precaution, the pools have been closed until further notice.”
It is good that religious institutions are doing their part to prevent the spreading of coronavirus, but there are some questions popping up as all of this happens. The holy waters are blessed in order to protect people and the waters in the French shrine are supposed to have healing powers but now those waters are closed. It seems that, by closing the wells, churches admit that there is nothing special in these waters and that they can’t help people. But in the end, it is better that churches came to this decision and that they are listening to scientists; even though there are still calls for people to pray more for the sake of their health.