Amongst Catholics, water from the well known Marian apparition site of Lourdes, France is a common export. Inspectors at Tarbes-Lourdes airport, on the other hand, didn’t see things the same way and prevented pilgrims traveling on the Vatican’s new airline from boarding with the holy water, reported Reuters.
The water, which is said to have miraculous healing powers, came from a sacred grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858. At the grotto, one can see crutches and other signs of illness that belonged to those who have been cured.
One of the passengers, Paola Saluzzi, told Corriere della Sera newspaper she was carrying the holy water in eight small plastic bottles "in the shape of the little Madonna". But it was not allowed on board.
"If they gave preference to the water from Lourdes it would be an (irregularity) that would not guarantee the proper procedure," she acknowledged.
But the new airline had foreseen just such a situation and placed a small complimentary bottle of holy water on the seat of each pilgrim to drink on board, Saluzzi said.
The Vatican's chartered Boeing 737 aims to serve 150,000 pilgrims a year. Beyond Lourdes, destinations will range from the shrine of Fatima in Portugal to Mount Sinai in Egypt, where Moses is said to have received the 10 Commandments from God.