I was thinking about this question about holy water container cleaning. And I'm talking specifically in reference to anything between the ubiquitous holy water bottles you can get at the back of church that are sold at Autom in packs of 100 down to a 100 year old bottle you inherited from your great grandma caked with calcium. Are these sacramentals? Are they "converted" into sacramentals when they begin to contain holy water? Do they need to be blessed? Can they be sold (empty)?

1 Answer 1


Are holy water bottles sacramentals?

Generally speaking the short answer is no. Unless the bottle has been blessed by a Catholic priest or deacon.

A rosary is a rosary. But once it is blessed it becomes a sacramental as well as being a rosary.

There are many blessing listed in the Rituale Romanum, however a blessing for holy water containers is nowhere to be found. Even the Sacred Vessels of the altar have their own particular blessing.

Nevertheless, an individual can ask a priest to bless a holy water container and it would then by definition become a sacramental.

If a particular blessing is not listed in the Rituale Romanum, a priest may employ the Blessing Ad Omnium:

Benediction Ad Omnium

Hæc benedictionis formula adhiberi potest a quovis Sacerdote pro omnibus rebus, quarum specialis benedictio in Rituali Romano non habeatur.

V. Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini. R. Qui fecit cælum et terram.

V. Dóminus vobíscum.

R. Et cum spíritu tuo.


Oratio Deus, cujus verbo sanctificántur, bene + dictiónem tuam effúnde super creatúram istam (creatúras istas): et præsta, ut,quisquis ea (eis) secúndum legem et voluntátem tuam cum gratiárum actióne usus fúerit, per invocatiónem sanctíssimi nóminis tui, córporis sanitátem et ánimæ tutélam, te auctóre, percípiat. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

R. Amen.

*Et aspergatur (vel aspergantur) aqua Benedicta.

The above prayer is taken from the Roman Ritual of the Extraordinary Form. Priests of the Ordinary Form are free to bless items with the simply Sign of the Cross on the object to be blessed.

Anything once blessed, becomes a sacramental.

A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the church to excite good thoughts and to help devotion. It is through the prayers of the church offered for those who make use of these sacramentals, as well as through the devotion they inspire, that they convey and obtain God’s grace and blessings.

Blessed objects of devotion: The Church blesses an untold variety of objects which the faithful use to inspire devotion. It would be impossible to list them all, but some of the main ones are holy water, candles, ashes, palms, crucifixes, medals, rosaries, scapulars, and images of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints. Some of these blessed objects, namely candles, ashes, and palms, are given to us directly through the liturgy. Others, such as the scapular, rosary and Miraculous Medal have been instituted or directly propagated by Our Blessed Mother. Sacramentals such as these play a pivotal role in the devotion and spiritual life of any Catholic and should be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Disposing of Sacramentals

When a material sacramental becomes so worn that it can no longer be used as a sacramental, one should not casually toss it into the trash. To prevent desecration, the sacramental should be returned to the earthly elements. Holy water, for example, should be poured into a hole dug in the earth, in a spot no one would walk over. Combustible sacramentals, such as scapulars and holy books, should be burned and then buried. Larger sacramentals that do not burn should be altered so that their form no longer appears to be a sacramental (for example, a statue should be broken up into small pieces) and then buried. Objects made of metals can be melted down and used for another purpose.

Items lose their blessing or consecration if they are desecrated, if they are substantially broken such that they can no longer be used for their sacred purpose, or if they are publicly sold. If an item is sold by one individual to another for only the price of the material itself, that is, if no profit is made, the blessing remains. For example, if you were to give someone a blessed rosary or sell it to him at cost, he would not have to have it re-blessed. If you were to sell a blessed rosary to someone for profit, he would need to take it to a priest to be blessed. - Sacramentals

Although sacramentals can be objects, such as holy water, medals, rosaries, or ashes; actions, for example, a pilgrimage; or words, such as a blessing. In countless ways, these sacred visual images and words provide us opportunities to cooperate with the working of God’s grace. This question however does not deal with all forms of sacramentals.

It would seem not all blessed things are sacramentals, such blessing a baby. The 1917 Canon Law defines sacramentals as "objects or actions resembling the Sacraments which the Church makes use of by way of intercession to obtain especially spiritual effects."

Sacramentals are defined in 1917 canons 1144-5:

The Sacramentals are objects or actions resembling the Sacraments which the Church makes use of by way of intercession to obtain especially spiritual effects.

[Latin:] Sacramentalia sunt res aut actiones quibus Ecclesia, in aliquam Sacramentorum imitationem, uti solet ad obtinendos ex sua impetratione effectus praesertim spirituales.

The Apostolic See alone can institute Sacramentals, authentically interpret those in use, or abolish or change some of them.

[Latin:] Nova Sacramentalia constituere aut recepta authentice interpretari, ex eisdem aliqua abolere aut mutare, sola potest Sedes Apostolica.

The Canon Law promulgated under Pope John Paul II is worded considerably differently:

Can. 1166 Sacramentals are sacred signs by which effects, especially spiritual effects, are signified in some imitation of the sacraments and are obtained through the intercession of the Church.

Can. 1167 §1. The Apostolic See alone can establish new sacramentals, authentically interpret those already received, or abolish or change any of them.

§2. In confecting or administering sacramentals, the rites and formulas approved by the authority of the Church are to be observed carefully.

  • It would seem not all blessed things are sacramentals. Canon Law defines sacramentals as "objects or actions resembling the Sacraments which the Church makes use of by way of intercession to obtain especially spiritual effects."
    – Geremia
    Oct 21, 2021 at 0:21

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