The Blessing of the Waters (Hagiasmós)

Holy Water

‘Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life’ — John 4:14

At the blessing of the waters, regular water is sanctified by the prayers of the priest and sign of the Cross so as to become a physical carrier of God’s invisible grace.

Holy water can be drunk for spiritual and physical well-being, or sprinkled on people, objects, vehicles, buildings, and even animals in order to sanctify them and drive away evil.

Water is essential to life on earth, and in the Bible is frequently associated with creation and new life. The story of creation begins with the Holy Spirit hovering over the face of the water (Genesis 1:2), the renewal of creation came by the flood (Genesis 6), the people of Israel started their journey to freedom by passing through the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14), the ministry of Christ begins with his baptism in the Jordan river, and we too are joined to Christ by baptism ‘of water and the Spirit’ (John 3:5). We also see countless miracles of healing by water in Scripture, as well as water used to describe the grace of God.

It is no wonder, then, that an element so fundamental to life — signifying purity, clarity, healing, refreshment, renewal, vitality — should be used to convey the grace of God to us.

When is the holy water blessing performed?

The lesser sanctification of the waters can take place on any day of the year. At St Andrew’s, we normally do this on the first day of every month.

The greater sanctification of the waters is performed only in connection with the feast of Theophany (celebrating Jesus’ baptism) on the 5th and 6th of January.

A blessing of the waters also takes place during the service of baptism, but the waters blessed in this context are not used for anything else.

Arranging a house blessing

If you would like a priest to visit your home to perform a blessing with holy water, please contact the church office.