Orthodox Bless the Waters Across the Metropolis of Chicago

Orthodox Bless the Waters Across the Metropolis of Chicago


DUBUQUE, IOWA: On Sunday, January 8 at 12:15pm at Catfish Charlie’s, located at 1630 East 16th Street in Dubuque, St Elias Greek Orthodox Church will hold an annual service blessing the Mississippi River. The approximately half hour service is free and open to the public. The service will end with the local priest, Father Dustin Lyon, tossing into, and retrieving from, the Mississippi River a cross, symbolic of Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan.

Each January 6, Eastern Orthodox Christians throughout the world celebrate Theophany, also known as Epiphany, which in Greek means, “manifestation of God.” The day commemorates the Baptism of Christ and the Divine revelation of the Holy Trinity. Part of the Theophany celebrations in locations with a major waterway include the outdoor Blessing of the Waters service. A part of this tradition is the tossing of a cross into the water as blessing, representative of Christ’s blessing of the Jordan River. In warmer climates, the cross is then retrieved by divers. The service concludes with holy water being given to the faithful to consume and to use in blessing their homes. In the weeks following the service, clergy visit the homes of parishioners and conduct a service of blessing using the holy water that was blessed on the holiday.

Eastern Orthodox Christians are the second largest Christian denomination worldwide. The Metropolis of Chicago oversees all Greek Orthodox Parishes within Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, as well as large portions of Missouri and Indiana. While all parishes hold an in-church Blessing of the Water Service, this outdoor Blessing of the Water service along a major waterway is rare in this part of the United States. In addition to this outdoor Blessing of the Water service taking place in Dubuque on the Mississippi River, outdoor services will also be held within the Metropolis of Chicago this year:
1) January 6th: St Paul, Minnesota, blessing the Mississippi River – Greek Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox

2) January 6th: St Louis, Missouri, blessing the Mississippi River – Greek Orthodox,

3) January 6th: Sioux City, Iowa, blessing the Missouri River – Greek Orthodox and Antiochian Orthodox

4) January 7th: Peoria, Illinois, blessing the Illinois River – Bishop Demetrios Attending – Greek Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox and Orthodox Church of America

5) January 7th or 14th: Possible Chicago, Illinois, blessing Lake Michigan – Greek Orthodox

6) January 8th: Dubuque, Iowa, blessing the Mississippi River – Greek Orthodox

7) January 14th: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, blessing the Cedar River – Greek Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox and Russian Orthodox

8) January 21st: Des Moines, Iowa, blessing the Des Moines River – Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox

9) January 29th: Rockford, Illinois, blessing the Rock River – Greek Orthodox, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox and Serbian Orthodox


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About author

John C. Ackerman

I am a lifelong Central Illinois resident and a parishioner of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Peoria. My wife's parents are immigrants from a small village outside Athens. My wife (Maria) and I have two young sons, Christian age 4 and Dimitrios age 3. I am also a member of Chicago Metropolitan Council.