Visitors to many Italian churches will see a new addition next to the door–automatic holy water dispensers.
Priests have been noticing that worshipers are reluctant to put their hands in the font containing holy water for fear of catching swine flu. About thirty people have died in Italy from the disease and people are a bit jittery about sharing the same water as hundreds of strangers, however holy it might be.
Some churches have even closed their communal fonts, like Milan’s cathedral, pictured here.
When inventor Luciano Marabese saw what was happening, he got to work. He invented an automatic dispenser that works along the same lines as a soap dispenser in a public bathroom, but has the look of a traditional font. The faithful put their hands under the dispenser where an infrared detector senses them and squirts out some holy water. There’s a video of the dispenser in action here.
Now if we can only get people to wash their hands after going to the bathroom. . .