Asperges me hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor….
These words from Psalm 50 are translated as Thou wilt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop and I shall be cleansed; Thou wilt wash me, and I shall be washed whiter than snow…..
This phrase is the source of the name of the device that sprinkles Holy Water, the Aspergillum, coming from the Latin spargere (to sprinkle)
In 1729, a monk using a microscope observed an organism that reminded him of the appearance of the Aspergillum when it is showering water; he named it Aspergillus. This is a genus of filamentous fungi related to bread mold. Some species are pathogenic. Other species are useful, including the one that ferments Japanese sake, which is a good thing for a mold to do.
But I digress.
In lieu of using an aspergillum (which is somewhat unwieldy), it is also possible to use a sprig of rosemary or a twig of olive tree as sprinkling device. Whatever the instrument, it resides in a bucket called an aspersorium.
You’ll see an aspersorium ready when there’s a baptism; on Palm Sunday; on Christmas and Easter; and on certain other feast days. Carefully labelled bottles of Holy Water are also suitable for mobile events, as in the recent Pride parade, when the aspersorium would have been too large, so small dishes were used instead.
Now, you may have noticed that our Dean Penny Bridges wields a mean aspergillum, or equivalent, with an efficient overhead motion for maximum sprinkle. And, as these photos clearly show, she has a big smile when she does so. Dean Penny clearly enjoys sharing Holy Water!
Showers of blessings indeed!
|At her installation, Penny showed us her enthusiasm!|
|At Pride 2014, Penny initiated the new tradition of Holy Water at Pride.|
|Palm Sunday, using the aspergillum|
|Rogation Sunday, blessings in Balboa Park|
|At Pentecost, after a baptism|
|Pride 2015, undaunted by the downpour!|