Holy water at religious shrines and churches in Austria is often contaminated with fecal matter and bacteria, researchers have found, advising the faithful not to drink it, especially in hospital chapels.
Scientists at Vienna University medical school’s Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology came to the conclusion after analyzing the water quality at 21 “holy” springs and 18 fonts at churches and chapels at various times of year.
Only 14 percent of the water samples from holy sources showed no fecal contamination, and none of the springs could be recommended as a source of drinking water, the study presented to a conference in Vienna this week found.
Kirschner, A.K.T., M. Atteneder, A. Schmidhuber, S. Knetsch, A.H. Farnleitner, R. Sommer. Holy springs and holy water: underestimated sources of illness? Journal of Water & Health 10.3: 349-357 (2012)