Blessing is no cross to bear

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GREEK Orthodox men dived off Frankston Pier on Epiphany Day to race and retrieve a wooden cross tossed into the sea by Bishop Jacob Iakovos as part of the annual Blessing of the Waters ceremony.

GREEK Orthodox men dived off Frankston Pier on Epiphany Day to race and retrieve a wooden cross tossed into the sea by Bishop Jacob Iakovos as part of the annual Blessing of the Waters ceremony.

First to the cross: Nick Georgiou swam out to grab a wooden cross tossed off Frankston pier by Greek Orthodox Church Bishop Jacob Iakovos on Epiphany Day last Wednesday. Pictures: Gary Sissons

First to the cross: Nick Georgiou swam out to grab a wooden cross tossed off Frankston pier by Greek Orthodox Church Bishop Jacob Iakovos on Epiphany Day last Wednesday. Pictures: Gary Sissons

ONE of the youngest participants at this year’s Greek Orthodox Blessing of the Waters came up with the wooden cross tossed into the sea by Bishop Jacob Iakovos to mark Epiphany Day.

Nick Georgiou, 16, from Mentone was first to grab the wooden cross after diving off Frankston pier last Wednesday morning (6 January). The throwing of the cross blesses the waters.

Blessing of the waters Frankston 2016.

Blessing of the waters Frankston 2016.

Epiphany Day celebrates the baby Jesus being visited by three kings in Bethlehem and later being baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.

A crowd gathered to watch a group of young men dive in and compete to be first to snatch the wooden cross.

Nick, a Year 11 student at Haileybury College, will benefit from 12 months of good luck and prosperity according to Greek Orthodox beliefs.

He said he did not realise how “big and special” the Blessing of the Waters ceremony is until he turned up last Wednesday morning and saw the large crowd gathered to watch proceedings.

“My friend invited me to come with him because we’re both Greek,” Nick said.

“I was really nervous before I jumped in.”

Nick reckoned his good luck for the year has already begun after “being in the right place on the pier” to dive in and snatch the cross the first time he took part in the event.

The 16-year-old aims to become a sports physiotherapist after he finishes his schooling.

The tradition of the Blessing of the Waters ceremony started in Frankston and Epiphany Day rituals are now also carried out at Rye and South Melbourne piers.

Nick was blessed by Bishop Iakovos after retrieving the wooden cross and was given a wooden cross pedant to wear as a memento.

First published in the Frankston Times – 11 January 2016

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