His All-Holiness Bartholomaios I presided over Instanbul’s annual Blessing of the Waters. Photo: Osman Orsal / Reuters
Once again re-enacting the baptism of Christ, almost 20 Turkish and Greek Christians braved the frigid waters of Istanbul’s Golden Horn estuary by plunging in to retrieve a large wooden cross.
The cross was blessed, then thrown in by His All-Holiness Bartholomaios I, archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and ecumenical patriarch of the Orthodox Church, in an annual Epiphany ceremony known as the Blessing of the Waters and held on Jan. 6. The man who retrieved and returned the cross to the patriarch received a golden pendant. The patriarchate of Constantinople dates back to Byzantine times.
Similar baptismal ceremonies took place across Eastern Europe.