Faith and Ingenuity: Holy Water Dispensers

What do Water Dispensers and H1N1 Virus Have in Common?

They Both Caught the Attention of the Catholic ChurchWater Dispensers

If you remember back to 2009, news of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, caught the world's attention - and had it running for the Costco bulk Purell. Swine influenza is one of four known types the influenza virus, which, along with the Avian, Equine, and Canine (yes, fido), in turn causes infection in the body of animals.

This nefarious little virus was responsible for the 2009 flu pandemic that was first identified in April 2009, until declared officially over in August 2010.

Faithful Ingenuity

What does the death of 19,633 people and a confirmed case of 1,632,258 infected persons worldwide have anything to do with water dispensers? Actually, potentially quite a lot.

For all the victims of the HIN1 pandemic in developing countries, as well as modern societies, a great many souls were surely saved thanks to water dispensers. Although, it isn't the water dispensers you're thinking of.

For many Christians, especially of the Catholic faith, morning mass just wouldn't be complete without a quick dip of the hand into the baptismal font upon entering and leaving the Church. In addition to performing baptisms in, the font is an integral church fixture that consists of a pedestal base and top basin for holding water. And not just any water - Holy water.

This water is blessed by a priest and then placed at the door front. This allows the faithful to splish-splash their fingertips, reminding them that baptism is the entrance to the Christian faith, and make the sign of the cross. Although this description may sound blithe, it is a deeply spiritual act.

Amid the rising numbers of sick, one Italian inventor (Or was it an Irish American firefighter?) combined faith with ingenuity to invent a germ-free, anti-H1N1 holy water dispenser - the first of its kind in the near-2,000 years of history for the Catholic Church. Much like automatic hand sanitizer dispensers, holy water dispensers are motion operated to provide each gliding hand a perfectly portioned squirt of blessed H2O.

Your Faith or Your Money

Which would you prefer to endure, your soul lost or the cost of hospitalized medical care? With rising health care costs and unemployment, many Christians may take a chance with the devil over tangling with muscular repo men.

The outbreak of Swine flu forced many churches to place a hiatus on open community fonts, due to the health risks, interrupting daily traditions. However, the electronic water dispenser saved a great deal of worshipers the trouble of choosing between the two.

According toReuters, "It has been a bit of a novelty. People initially were a bit shocked by this technological innovation but then they welcomed it with great enthusiasm and joy," said Father Pierangelo Motta. Thus, the tradition of the font was saved from the H1N1 pandemic, as well as future influenza outbreaks, thanks to the often apprehensive relationship between faith and technology.

Which Came First: The Italian or the Irish American?

All of which leads us back to that aside above. Who invented the holy water dispenser first? According to Reuters, Time, and NPR an Italian inventor from a northern town called Fornaci di Briosco invented electronic holy water dispensers, yet one conflicting report was discovered. Irish Central, a dot com website, reports that it was in fact firefighter John Hartel, from Queens, who came up with the devotional dispenser years ago!

Hartel's firefighting brother admitted that he didn't dip his fingers into the holy water font, for fear of the inappropriately washed appendages of other church members, thus providing John the fodder for his genius.

Having created the concept of an automatic holy water dispenser, Hartel decided to shelve the idea as he was unsure of a holy water dispensers market...until recently. So who invented these water dispensers first? It would seem John Hartel, except that the pro-Italian articles are dated from 2009 whileIrish Central's is 2010. Not to mention that the Irish Voice could be slightly biased towards a fellow Irishman. Oh well, we may never really know.

Water Dispensers for Everyone!

One thing is for sure, water dispensers, in addition to being a fantastic, cheap, and healthy alternative to sugary beverages, helped save lives and tradition. If you're looking for a holy water dispenser just Google 'JMH Castlerea' or click to see electronic water dispensers for your home or office!