A recent acquisition received by the the Musée Héritage Museum included a “Home Stoup” that arrived as part of the household of a local family. In the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran tradition a Stoup, also known as a holy water font, is a container for holy water that is normally placed at the entrance to the church. When a congregant arrives, dips a finder in the water and then makes the sign of the cross when entering and leaving the church it invokes God’s blessing on them and is a very long-standing tradition.
This tradition maintaining a font of holy water was not just practiced in churches and public places of worship but in believer’s homes as well. Homes stoups were sometimes placed at the entrances to homes but more often on the bedroom wall at the head of the bed. Placing the stoup by their bed the believer can make the sign of the cross each morning and evening to invoke God’s blessing.
This European tradition was popular in France in the 17th and 18th century and made its way to North America and then to the traditions and homes of local families.