Members of three local Orthodox churches gathered at mile marker 16 on the Centennial Trail Sunday afternoon, looked toward the frigid waters and prayed for the Spokane River to, “be sanctified by the power and operation and descent of the holy spirit….”
The Rev. Basil Caldaroni of St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church in Post Falls, Idaho said Orthodox Christians bless the waters each year on the Feast of Theophany (Jan. 6), which commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan.
“When he was baptized he blessed the waters by himself entering into the waters and entering into creation,” Caldaroni said. “So the Orthodox Church to this day continues on Theophany to bless water.”
Rev. Stephen Supica, of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, said the annual event is way of extending “the blessing the Lord gave to the Jordan River to our own part of God’s creation.”
Members from Holy Trinity, Christ the Savior and St. John’s Orthodox Churches attended the brief ceremony, which included a holy crucifix being tossed into the river, retrieved, then kissed by worshipers.
On Theophany Orthodox churches also have a blessing of the water during Divine Liturgy.
The Feast of Theophany is also the culmination of the Christmas Season.