Holy Water, water which has been consecrated to religious purposes through the blessing of a priest. Its use as a symbol of spiritual purification in the early Church was derived from the Jewish observance of washing the hands, but in all religions and at all periods the cleansing properties of water have given rise to the same or similar rites. We know from Tertullian that it was so used by Christians before the close of the 2nd century. The custom of mixing salt with the water arose at a very early period. The use of holy water is now an important feature in the services of the Roman Catholic, Greek, and Eastern Churches. It is placed in benitiers (q.v.) at the entrance to churches that the congregation may sprinkle themselves when passing in and out.