The following article is poignant in light of what happened today at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.*
Daniel Hamiche is a French Catholic journalist and writer. In a brief post from 2018 he quotes Le Parisien in his discussion about the deliberate contamination of holy water in the stoups (a stoup is a basin or font of holy water that worshippers dip their fingers in, commonly known as a lavabo by American Catholics):
Stoups of the Notre-Dame cathedral polluted
By Daniel Hamiche
August 12, 2018
I prefer to use the word ‘pollution’ rather than ‘poisoning’, which was even put in the quotation marks by Le Parisien. It is rather common that imbeciles or villains pollute the stoups in churches — in my own parish one Sunday, a couple of years ago, I had to clean a stoup whose sacred water was dyed red…
An act of vandalism? Of malice? Vengeance of a pagan? Bad schoolboy joke? The mystery is still there… This Saturday morning, a team of police from the police station of the 4th arrondissement [of Paris] arrived at the île de la Cité, at Notre-Dame de Paris, after mass. To investigate. On Friday [August 10th] Catholic tourists, who came to gather together at Notre-Dame [the verb “to gather” here has the connotation of “worshipping”, or praying together since it is also used for going together to someone’s grave to pay respect, or meditate], were allegedly poisoned by… holy water! “They complained about burning around their faces after crossing themselves with the water from the stoups, at the entrance of the church, according to the police source. They also suffered from headaches. A Church representative, worried, went to the police station of the 4th arrondissement, responsible for the area [where Notre-Dame is located], in order to report the events. To elucidate the facts. To protect his flock. […] In the alleys, a priest, in his alb confirms the incident: “It was above all very smelly, the water.” And, while looking towards the sky: “What can you do! It’s unfortunately an evil act. They want to poison the world!” […] Finally, after an investigation, the fine bloodhounds from the police station of the 4th arrondissement concluded the absence of danger. No complaint was filed, and no official investigation was opened. In Notre-Dame, it was decided, per security measures, to empty the water from the stoups and to bleach them! The stone basins have been completely cleaned and filled with fresh water.
|*||Yes, I know the fire was reportedly set deliberately at two separate locations, and I know that President Macron had mandated that 50% of the renovation workers at the cathedral be culture-enrichers. There may be articles in tonight’s news feed about it; I’m not sure.