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Holy water sickens more than 200 in Russia

February 8, 2010 |  9:16 am

At least 117 people, including 48 children, were hospitalized with severe gastrointestinal problems and an additional 100 were forced to seek medical attention after consuming holy water in an Epiphany celebration at a Russian Orthodox church in the eastern city of Irkutsk.

According to the Associated Press, many Russians consider any water collected on Epiphany -- which is celebrated on Jan. 19 -- to be holy and to possess curative powers. In this case, the water was collected from two wells near the church and from a nearby stagnant lake. Authorities suspect the lake was the source of bacteria that caused the problems.

Perhaps they should have added holy chlorine.

-- Thomas H. Maugh II