Oddly Enough

Vatican says don't take "holy" water onto pope plane

Pope Benedict XVI sprays holy water as he celebrates a mass during a youth meeting in Loreto, central Italy, September 2, 2007. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican has warned journalists who will travel with Pope Benedict to Lourdes next month not to put the revered water from the shrine in their hand luggage on the papal plane or it may be confiscated.

The pope will travel Sept 12-15 to Paris and the site in southern France where the Madonna is said to have appeared to a peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, 150 years ago.

The millions of pilgrims who visit the shrine each year drink from its fonts, many believing its water to be potentially miraculous and healing. Most take bottles of it away with them.

“In order to avoid their confiscation during security controls at the airport, Air France recommends putting any bottles of Lourdes water in baggage what will go into the hold of the plane,” a Vatican advisory to reporters said.

While the water from Lourdes is not strictly considered “holy” -- holy water is found in churches and must be blessed by a priest -- many websites about Lourdes describe it as “holy”.

Security measures limiting liquids allowed in carry-on baggage have been in effect since 2006 when a plot to bring down planes with liquid explosives was discovered.

Reporting by Philip Pullella