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The liturgical rite of sprinkling altar, clergy, and people with holy water on Sundays, so-named after the antiphon Asperges me (but during Paschal time, Vidi aquam ) which accompanies the sprinkling. Pope Leo IV (d. 885) decreed that each priest should bless water every Sunday in his own church and sprinkle the people with it (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne 115:679). At the same time Hincmar (d. 882), Archbishop of Reims, made a similar disposition for his diocese:

Every Sunday, before the celebration of Mass, the priest shall bless water in his church; and, for this holy purpose, he shall use a clean and suitable vessel. The people, when entering the church, are to be sprinkled with this water; and those who desire may carry some away in clean vessels so as to sprinkle their houses, fields, vineyards, and cattle, and the provender with which these last are fed, as also to throw over their own food (Capitula synodica 5; Patrologia Latina 125:774).

Bibliography: For bibliography and further discussion, see water, liturgical use of.

[e. j. gratsch/eds.]

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asperges the rite of sprinkling holy water at the beginning of the Mass, still used occasionally in Catholic churches. The term comes (in the late 16th century) from the first word of the Latin text of Psalms 50(51):9 (literally ‘thou shalt purge’), recited before mass during the sprinkling of holy water.