An aspergillum (or aspergil) is used to sprinkle holy water. The name is derived from the Latin verb aspergere meaning ‘to sprinkle’. Although some have internal reservoirs that dispense holy water when shaken, this one must periodically be dipped in an aspersorium (holy water bucket, also called a ‘situla’ by art historians).
A description of the original type of aspergillum may be found in the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament:
“And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field.” (Leviticus 14: 3 – 7)
Donated by Church of Sts Peter & Paul