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Orthodox clergy bless rivers with splash

January 7, 2019

Traffic on Spy Run Avenue hummed in the background Sunday afternoon as more than 50 people crowded a nearby footbridge and turned their focus to a blessing that would end with a splash.

For about 10 minutes, clergymen from St. Nicholas Orthodox Church and St. John Chrysostom Antiochian Orthodox Church performed the annual blessing of the rivers on the St. Marys Pathway near Traders Point Park just north of downtown.

“That all those who draw of this water may receive the divine blessing and healing upon themselves and their homes, let us pray to the Lord,” Michael Myers, a deacon at St. Nicholas, said after a reading of the Gospel.

With the blessing held every Jan. 6 : on the feast of Theophany, or the baptism of Christ : attendance can vary. The Rev. Andrew Jarmus of St. Nicholas credited this year’s fantastic turnout to it falling on a Sunday. “You can’t argue with the weather, either,” he added.

He noted the blessing has happened in more wintry conditions than Sunday’s sunny, mild afternoon.

Kay Brown, who attended the event with her husband, is among those who try to come annually.

“When we bless the water, it blesses all the rest of creation,” she said.

The ceremony included dropping an ice cross, which contained basil leaves, into the water below.

It landed with a splash : and an observation from above.

“It broke in two,” one of the clergymen said.


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