Germs and Holy Water

Formerly having been a Sacristan for twelve years I would often remove the dirty holy water from the baptismal font and holy water receptacles on a weekly basis and on Friday after morning Mass have the Priest or Deacon bless the new replenished fresh water in the Baptismal font. In some cities with regard to the demographic locations of the Catholic churches in older sections of the city and the underground infrastructure of old deteriorated fresh water pipes makes it necessary to change the holy water frequently. Some cities have hard-water in their city water supply that increases bacteria. The bacteria from the parishioners hands can quickly accumulate, more so in the hotter summer months. Some Catholic Churches have adopted (“Full Immersion Baptismal Fonts”) which I personally DO NOT agree with. Baptism is a beautiful sacrament in it self. However; some priest’s and deacons can get carried away straying from the true sacramental spiritual meaning of baptism by using distracting full immersion baptism with people in their bathing suits going in for the dip. Finally; as for the “old dirty holy water” that is removed. It’s poured down the sacquirium in the sacristy.

There is a Franciscan parish in my diocese that has a baptismal fount in the center of the nave. It is used for baptisms by full immersion. The water is kept running by a pump and filter. People often sign themselves using the wter from the ‘fountain’.

We dump the Holy Water at least once a week and replace it. We also wash the bowls. No murky water at our parish.

(Yes, we dump it into the ground, or into plants.)

Immersion is the recommended form by the Church:

1239 The essential rite of the sacrament follows: Baptism properly speaking. It signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity through configuration to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Baptism is performed in the most expressive way by triple immersion in the baptismal water. However, from ancient times it has also been able to be conferred by pouring the water three times over the candidate’s head.

It really doesn’t matter,if the water is turned from ordinary water into holy water then you shouldn’t even worry whether or not you could get germs.Just place your faith and trust in God and he will take care of you.:slight_smile:

Total Immersion is perhaps recommended according to Canon Code 1239.
However; (“Total Immersion”) for new baptized Catholics is not the obligatory form of baptism.
Full Immersion is not always the healthiest choice not matter how many times the water recirculates through the water pump or filters. Residue from hair shampoo and gels and urine from babies being baptized and who knows what else. And who wants to see adults who have never been baptized stripping off down to their bathing suits in a Catholic Church. Poor ethical etiquette if you ask me. But then again in many of today’s Catholic Churches “Symbolic Liberalism” runs out of control at times.

Its from the Catechism, not Canon law.

While I do agree bathing suits seem inapproriate, I don’t think performing full immersion baptism is “Symbolic Liberalism”. Hair shampoo and gel residue is not harmful to your health, and urine is sterile. That being said, I’m fairly certain ours does not contain these things, but if it did, it wouldn’t get you sick.
As Father mentioned previously, imagine the condition of the water Jesus was baptized in…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit