Eighty-sex percent of holy water tested in Austria was infected with bacteria found in fecal matter, a study reports.
Catholics have used sanctified water since the early centuries of Christianity as a symbol of purification, and not just for baptisms. The faithful use holy water to bless themselves when the enter a sanctuary, and while making the sign of the cross in Austria, they typically touch their lips. Nearly 74% of Austrians are Roman Catholic.
So researchers at the Medical University of Vienna tested water from 21 holy springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna. Not only was the water not safe to drink, it contained E. coli, enterococci and Campylobacter.
The study, published in the Journal of Water and Health, found that all church and hospital chapel fonts had bacteria — the more popular the church, the merrier the bacterial count.
h/t ABC News