Holy water

The "cold black marble bowl" beside which Bloom stands "unseeing" for a moment in Lotus Eaters as he adjusts to the daylight outside St. Andrew's, "while before him and behind two worshippers dipped furtive hands in the low tide of holy water," is the font in the church's entrance porch. He stands near another such "font" at the entrance of the mortuary chapel in Hades, and then watches as the priest shakes some droplets over Dignam's coffin: "Holy water that was, I expect." Many Catholic churches dispense holy water—water that has been sanctified by a priest's blessing—to worshipers in basins stationed at the entrance. Priests also administer it in baptisms, funerals, exorcisms, and blessings.

JH 2018

William York Tindall's 1950s photograph of the font at the entrance to St. Andrew's church. Source: The Joyce Country.

18th century Portugese aspersorium and aspergillum. Source: www.invaluable.co.uk.

Pope Francis performing a blessing with holy water. Source: waarmedia.com.

2006 photograph by Kaishu Tai of curbside holy water to-go on an outer wall of St. Theresa's church in Clarendon Street, Dublin. Source: Wikimedia Commons.