Although many communal fonts in Italian churches have run dry because of the flu scare, one small parish church has a custom-designed font that dispenses holy water for making the sign of the cross in a more hygienic fashion.
It works much like a touchless soap dispenser in a public bathroom: the faithful place their hands underneath it, triggering a motion sensor and holy water runs forth.
Nicknamed the “sacred dispenser,” the container is covered in terracotta with a matching basin. It hangs on the wall in the church of Tre Fanciulli a Fornaci, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Milan.
“I thought it up seven years ago while working my pizzeria,” inventor Luciano Marabese told newspapers. The parish priests in the town of about 5,000 had related to Marabese the disturbing news that drug addicts were washing needles in church fonts. Between spinning one pizza and the next, Marabese came up with the idea of safer holy water.
“It’s been in the church since 2005, but since the flu scare, I’ve been contacted by half of Europe — Spain, Portugal, Poland — only the Vatican hasn’t called yet. ”
The hygienic holy water dispenser costs about â‚¬1,500 ($2,200), with part of the proceeds going to humanitarian projects in Africa.