"[Prior to Vatican II, w]hen holy water [was] blessed, the priest reads several prayers, which included an exorcism of the salt and the water. An exorcism is the banishing of evil spirits. The Fathers of the Church teach us that when Satan caused the fall of our first parents he also obtained an influence over inanimate things intended for the use of man; and therefore, when any material object is to be devoted to the service of God, the Church often prescribes for it a form of exorcism, to free it from the power of the Evil One.

The prayers used in this ceremony are very beautiful, and express well the reasons for the use of holy water. Those said over the salt invoke the power of "the living God, the true God, the holy God," that whosoever uses it may have health of soul and body; that the devil may depart from any place in which it is sprinkled; that whoever is touched by it shall be sanctified, and freed from all uncleanness and all attacks of the powers of darkness. The prayers said over the water are addressed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, that through the power of the Blessed Trinity the spirits of evil may he utterly expelled from this world and lose all influence over mankind. When God is besought to bless the water, that it may be effective in driving out devils and in curing diseases; that wherever it is sprinkled there may be freedom from pestilence and from the snares of Satan.

Then the priest puts the salt into the water in the form of a threefold cross, saying: "May this mingling of salt and water be made in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost " -- after which another prayer is recited, in which God is asked to sanctify this salt and water, that wherever it shall be sprinkled all evil spirits shall be driven away and the Holy Spirit shall be present." Fr. Sullivan, Externals of the Catholic Church.


Text of the Blessing

(This blessing was in official use before the reforms of Vatican II.)


"V. Our help is in the

. name of the Lord.

R. Who made heaven

and earth.


Exorcism of Salt

O salt, creature of God, I exorcise you by the living God, by the true God, by the holy God, by the God who ordered you to be poured into the water by Eliseus the Prophet so that its life-giving powers might be restored. I exorcise you so that you may become a means of salvation for believers, that you may bring health of soul and body to all who make use of you, arid that you may put to flight and drive away from the places where you are sprinkled every apparition, villainy, and turn of devilish deceit, and every unclean spirit, adjured by Him Who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly implore Thee, in Thy immeasurable kindness and love, to bless + and sanctify + this salt which Thou did create and give over to the use of mankind, so that it may become a source of health for the minds and bodies of all who make use of it, and may rid whatever it touches or sprinkles of all uncleanness and protect it from every assault of evil spirits. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. R. Amen.

Exorcism of Water

O water, creature of God, I exorcise you in the name of God the Father almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. I exorcise you so that you may put to flight all the power of the Enemy, and be able to root out and supplant that Enemy with his apostate angels: through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by lire. Amen.

Let us pray.

O God, Who for the salvation of mankind has built Thy greatest mysteries on this substance, water, in Thy kindness hear our prayers and pour down the power of Thy blessing + into this element, made ready for many kinds of purifications. May this, Thy creature, become an agent of divine grace in the service of Thy mysteries, to drive away evil spirits and dispel sickness, so that every- thing in the homes and other buildings of the faithful that is sprinkled with this water may be rid of all uncleanness and freed from every harm. Let no breath of infection, no disease-bearing air, remain in these places. May the wiles of the lurking Enemy prove of no avail. Let whatever might menace the safety and peace of those who live here be put to flight by the sprinkling of this water, so that the healthfulness, obtained by calling upon Thy holy name, may be made secure against all attack. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

R. Amen.


The priest mixes a little salt into the water.

May a mixture of salt and water now be made in the name of the Fa + ther, and of the + Son, and of the Holy + Spirit.

R. Amen.

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your spirit.

Let Us Pray.

O God, Creator unconquerable, invincible King, Victor ever-glorious, Who did hold in check the forces bent on dominating us, Who did overcome the cruelty of the raging enemy, Who did in Thy power beat down the wicked foe:

Humbly and fearfully do we pray to Thee, O Lord, and we ask Thee to look with favor on this salt and water which Thou has created. Shine on it with the light of Thy kindness. Sanctify it by the dew of Thy love, so that, through the invocation of Thy holy name, wherever this water and salt is sprinkled it may turn aside every attack of the unclean spirit and dispel the terror of the poisonous serpent. And wherever we may be, make the Holy Spirit present to us who now implore Thy mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

R. Amen."

Collectio Rituum, © 1954, The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, pp. 129-34. This text is quoted for historical reasons, so Catholics may know what the priest did say over water and salt. The material is presented for religious and educational purposes only. No other use is intended or permitted.

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