Holy water is water that has been blessed by a member of the clergy or a religious figure. The use for cleansing prior to a baptism and spiritual cleansing is common in several religions, from Christianity to Sikhism. The use of holy water as a sacramental for protection against evil is common among Lutherans , Anglicans , Roman Catholics ,   and Eastern Christians. In Catholicism , Lutheranism , Anglicanism , Eastern Orthodoxy , Oriental Orthodoxy and some other churches , holy water is water that has been sanctified by a priest for the purpose of baptism, the blessing of persons, places, and objects, or as a means of repelling evil. The use of holy water used by various sects of Christianity is a practice only attested to in Catholic documents. The Apostolic Constitutions , which goes back to about the year , attribute the precept of using holy water to the Apostle Matthew. It is plausible that in earliest Christian times water was used for expiatory and purificatory purposes in a way analogous to its employment in Jewish Law.
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Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. The use of holy water in the earliest days of the Christian Era is attested by documents of only comparatively late date. The "Apostolic Constitutions" , the redaction of which goes back to about the year , attribute to the Apostle St. Matthew the precept of using holy water. The letter written under the name of Pope Alexander I , who lived in the second century, is apocryphal and of more recent times; hence the first historical testimony does not go back beyond the fifth century. However, it is permissible to suppose for the sake of argument that, in the earliest Christian times, water was used for expiatory and purificatory purposes, to a way analogous to its employment under the Jewish Law. As, in many cases, the water used for the Sacrament of Baptism was flowing water, sea or river water, it could not receive the same blessing as that contained in the baptisteries. On this particular point the early liturgy is obscure, but two recent discoveries are of very decided interest. The Pontifical of Serapion of Thumis, a fourth-century bishop , and likewise the "testamentum Domini", a Syriac composition dating from the fifth to the sixth century, contain a blessing of oil and water during Mass.
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Holy water , in Christianity , water that has been blessed by a member of the clergy and is used in baptism and to bless individuals, churches, homes, and articles of devotion. A natural symbol of purification , water has been used by religious peoples as a means of removing uncleanness, either ritual or moral. Holy water is used in Roman Catholicism , Eastern Orthodoxy , certain Lutheran synods, Anglicanism , and various other churches. By the time of the 4th century the still waters of the baptismal font or pool were exorcised and blessed with the sign of the cross. Other water was blessed for the use of the faithful as a means of warding off the unclean spirit and as a safeguard against sickness and disease.
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