Holy water cont'
Holy water is water that has been blessed by a priest or bishop. Holy water is used only in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.
Holy Water in Roman Catholicism

Holy water figures in Roman Catholic rituals of exorcism. It is also the usual water used in baptisms that occur in a church; however, the use of specifically consecrated water is not required for a valid baptism under Roman Catholic religious law.

A quantity of holy water is typically kept in a font, an item of church architecture that typically appears in a baptistery; a smaller font, called a stoup, may be placed near the entrance of the church. Roman Catholics bless themselves when entering the church by dipping their fingers in the holy water and making the sign of the cross. Holy water is also sometimes sprinkled upon the congregation during the Mass; this is called aspersion.

In the theology of Roman Catholicism, holy water is a sacramental, a "sacred sign which bear(s) a resemblance to the sacraments." Holy water recalls the sacrament of baptism. (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1667, 1668.)
Varieties of Holy Water

Roman Catholic rituals distinguish four different kinds of holy water. There are:

    * Holy water per se, of the kind found in the stoup, which has been blessed with a small amount of salt as a preservative. This is the holy water used in aspersions and blessings;
    * Baptismal holy water, to which a slight amount of chrism (anointing oil) and the oil of catechumens has been added, used in church baptisms;
    * Gregorian water, also called "water of consecration"; small amounts of wine, salt, and ashes are added to it, and it is used by bishops at the consecration of a church; and
    * Easter water, which is distributed to the faithful on Easter Sunday for use at home.

Rituals Associated with Holy Water

The ritual of consecrating holy water traditionally is performed on Holy Saturday and during the vigil of Pentecost. Once consecrated, more ordinary water can be added to the supply of holy water, and the entire quantity of water remains consecrated provided that the amount added is less than the amount of water that was there. Holy water can in fact be consecrated upon any day in the liturgical calendar except Easter Sunday and Pentecost itself. The ritual of preparing holy water is itself in form an exorcism; the priest first exorcises the salt, and then the water itself; the traditional Latin formula for exorcising and blessing the water is:

    Exorcizo te, creatura aquŠ, in nomine Dei Patris omnipotentis, et in nomine Jesu Christi, Filii ejus Domini nostri, et in virtute Spiritus Sancti: ut fias aqua exorcizata ad effugandam omnem potestatem inimici, et ipsum inimicum eradicare et explantare valeas cum angelis suis apostaticis, per virtutem ejusdem Domini nostri Jesu Christ: qui venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos et sŠculum per ignem.

    I exorcise thee in the name of God the Father almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord, and in the power of the Holy Ghost, that you may be able to put to flight all the power of the enemy, and be able to root out and supplant that enemy and his apostate angels; through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

    Deus, qui ad salutem humani generis maxima quŠque sacramenta in aquarum substantia condidisti: adesto propitius invocationibus nostris, et elemento huic, multimodis purificationibus prŠparato, virtutem tuŠ benedictionis infunde; ut creatura tua, mysteriis tuis serviens, ad abigendos dŠmones morbosque pellendos divinŠ gratiŠ sumat effectum; ut quidquid in domibus vel in locis fidelium hŠc unda resperserit careat omni immunditia, liberetur a noxa. Non illic resideat spiritus pestilens, non aura corrumpens: discedant omnes insidiŠ latentis inimici; et si quid est quod aut incolumitati habitantium invidet aut quieti, aspersione hujus aquŠ effugiat: ut salubritas, per invocationem sancti tui nominis expetita, ab omnibus sit impugnationibus defensa. Per Dominum, amen.

    God, Who for the salvation of the human race has built your greatest mysteries upon this substance, in your kindness hear our prayers and pour down the power of your blessing into this element, prepared by many purifications. May this your creation be a vessel of divine grace to dispel demons and sicknesses, so that everything that it is sprinkled on in the homes and buildings of the faithful will be rid of all unclean and harmful things. Let no pestilent spirit, no corrupting atmosphere, remain in those places: may all the schemes of the hidden enemy be dispelled. Let whatever might trouble the safety and peace of those who live here be put to flight by this water, so that health, gotten by calling Your holy name, may be made secure against all attacks. Through the Lord, amen.

These prayers and exorcisms show the uses and powers that have been attributed to holy water in Roman Catholic tradition.

Other Holy Waters

Some Roman Catholics believe that water from Lourdes and other holy wells and shrines has supernatural powers, such as for healing. This water, technically, is not holy water since it has not been consecrated by a priest or bishop.