Why Does Church Bless Water?


Water is the fundamental element of life. All living things need water to live.

  • In the beginning, God brought life from the water that covered the earth.
  • Each of us had his beginning in the water of his mother’s womb.
  • A human being’s body consists to a great extent of water. Every human being, animal, and plant on earth needs water to survive.

Water is the beginning of spiritual life, as well.

  • In Genesis we read how God saved Noah and his family from the evil surrounding them by sending the Flood through which He destroyed the old world and from which He brought forth life once again.
  • In Exodus we read how God saved the Chosen People by leading them through the Red Sea and drowning the Egyptians who pursued them.
  • In the Gospel we read that St. John the Forerunner prepared the people for the coming of Christ by baptizing them in water.
  • Jesus Christ Himself was baptized by immersion in the water of the Jordan River.
  • Jesus likewise commanded that everyone who believed in the Apostles’ preaching be baptized. To this day we begin our life in the Church through water baptism.

Since the Church sanctifies every aspect of our life, it is only natural that through prayer she should sanctify water for us to be baptized in, as well as water to drink and to be blessed with.

When does the Church bless water?

There are three kinds of blessing of water: the blessing of water for the Mystery of Baptism, the Great Sanctification (Megas Agiasmos) which is performed at the Feast of the Theophany, and the Lesser Sanctification (Mikros Agiasmos) which is performed throughout the year in the Church, in homes, businesses, fields, and gardens, to sanctify the daily activities of our lives.

Holy Baptism is a whole subject unto itself. In this short article, we wish to talk about the Great and Lesser Agiasmos, and how we incorporate holy water into our daily lives.

What is the Great Agiasmos and how do we receive it?

The Great Agiasmos is the service of blessing water on the Feast of Christ’s Baptism (Theophany) on 6 January Old Style (January 19th). We perform this service twice, once on the eve of the Feast and once on the Feast itself. We take the water blessed on January 5th to sanctify the homes of the faithful through sprinkling, and we drink the water blessed on January 6th after keeping a strict fast on January 5th. The Great Agiasmos is reserved in the Church, not normally in people’s homes, and it should always be taken fasting. The Holy Canons prescribe that the Great Agiasmos water be given in lieu of Holy Communion, after fasting and confession, to those who are under a canonical epitimion (penance, “kanona”) and therefore deprived of Holy Communion for a period of time; therefore obviously it is regarded as something very holy and possessed of spiritual power for the healing of soul and body.

What is the role of the Lesser Agiasmos?

The lesser Agiasmos can be performed and its sanctified water drunk throughout the year. This service may be performed in Church, at home, or at places of work, schools, government offices, farms, fishing boats…everywhere that the activities of life go on! The purpose of the ongoing celebration of the Lesser Water Blessing throughout the year is to sanctify ourselves and our daily activities for the sake of our spiritual and bodily health and salvation. There are various forms of the Lesser Agiasmos: the standard form which we do once a month in Church and perform often in homes and businesses, and the special forms for the beginning of the school year, the beginning of every good work, the beginning of a governmental or parish council term, etc.

When should we invite the priest to perform the Lesser Agiasmos?

  • On a regular basis, to our homes and businesses throughout the year, preferably once a month.
  • When we are beginning something new, like starting a new business or moving into a new home.
  • When there are troubles in the home: fighting, sickness, unfortunate events, etc.

What do we do with the blessed water of the Lesser Agiasmos?

  • On the day we receive it in Church, we drink it after taking antidoron, and then we take it home and sprinkle our homes, cars, etc.
  • Or, of course, the priest will sprinkle our home if he does the service in our house.
  • Then we keep the Agiasmos in a clean, covered container with our icons and other holy things, and we take some every day before breakfast, after taking antidoron.

Let us begin these holy practices today, for the health and true spiritual happiness of our family members, and for greater peace, order, and holiness in our homes!