Epiphany: Orthodox believers retrieve crosses from icy rivers, pope says ‘reject God of money’ and serve others

Boboteaza - Sf Ioan Botezatorul
Foto: Inquam Photos / Justinel Stavaru

Thousands of Orthodox believers across Eastern Europe have celebrated Epiphany plunging into icy waters to retrieve crucifixes thrown by priests.

In Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, believers dived into the sea, rivers and lakes on Monday to retrieve the crosses in the belief that they will be healthy and blessed throughout the year.

In the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta, the faithful who retrieved the crosses were rewarded with money and religious objects.

More than 10,000 faithful were expected to take part outdoor services in the Constanta, led by the Archbishop of Tomis, Teodosie, and a phalanx of priests.

An early morning service at the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral was followed by a procession to the Constanta Casino on the shore of the Black Sea where Teodosie cast three crosses into the icy waters.

Orthodox countries commemorate the day for the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, an event that is mirrored by worshipers throwing themselves into lakes and the sea.

Believers will later receive bottles of holy water following the tradition of Epiphany. Orthodox priests traditionally visit people’s homes with bottles of  sanctified water.

Carts drawn by oxen and donkeys carried barrels of holy water along Constanta’s main streets on Monday for people unable to attend the religious services.

In Western churches, Epiphany which falls the 12th day after Christmas recalls the journey of the Three Kings, to bring gifts to the baby and closes the Christmas season.  

Pope Francis used the day to advise people to reject “the god of money, the god of consumerism, the god of pleasure, the god of success, the god of self.”  

“Worship means bending low before the Most High and to discover in his presence that life’s greatness does not consist in having, but in loving,” he said

He also urged faithful to concentrate on the essential by getting rid of what he calls “useless things and addictions that anesthetize the heart and confound the mind,” the Crux Catholic publication reported.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here