Orthodox in Cyprus Celebrate Epiphany in Occupied Territory

Orthodox in Cyprus Celebrate Epiphany in Occupied Territory

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It seems the day the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove, the borders opened as well!

In an article on EURONEWS titled,  Cyprus: Famagusta hosts first Epiphany for 42 years, by Marios Ioannou, it has been reported that 1200 Orthodox faithful attended Epiphany celebrations at the St George Church in the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, for the first time since the Turkish invasion against Cyprus in 1974.

Epiphany, one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church celebrates God’s revelation to humanity and when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by Saint John the Baptist.  Through the centuries, the celebration has encompassed the blessing of the waters reminding us of the time Jesus blessed the waters almost 2000 years ago.  As part of the service, the priest will toss a cross into rivers, lakes or oceans to sanctify them.  Able-bodied men then dive into the waters to retrieve the blessing cross in exchange for a blessing from the priest or bishop.

Being able to return to the occupied side of Cyprus, even just for the day, was bitter-sweet for many.  Euronews reported that Greek Cypriot Philippos Yiapanis, stated, “This is a very moving moment for me … our presence here means we haven’t forgotten, and we still believe one day we will return,”  But until that time, the faithful had to return home and leave their beloved parish behind.

Apolytikion of Holy Epiphany in the First Tone

Lord, when You were baptized in the Jordan, the veneration of the Trinity was revealed. For the voice of the Father gave witness to You, calling You Beloved, and the Spirit, in the guise of a dove, confirmed the certainty of His words. Glory to You, Christ our God, who appeared and enlightened the world.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou

 

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Presvytera Vassi Haros

Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.