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Holy water in antiquity

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman baths in Bath (England) from 1900
Roman baths in Bath (England) from 1900

Holy water is associated with the Christian faith. It is used in baptisms, blessing and expelling evil. Few, however, realize that the holy springs occurred in other religions, including the ancient Greeks and Romans.

It happened that at Greek temples there were sources that were considered sacred. Washing in it was supposed to give religious cleansing, and the water there was holy (the so-called chernips). Apparently, such water became holy when the temple torch was extinguished in it.

In ancient Rome – which adopted a lot of customs and religious practices from Greece – holy water was naturally also used. Interestingly, there were even deities of toilets or sewers in Rome.

  • Walter Burkert, John Raffan, Greek religion: archaic and classical, 1991
  • Lidia Winniczuk, Ludzie, zwyczaje i obyczaje starożytnej Grecji i Rzymu, PWN, Warszawa

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