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Tarpon Springs Epiphany: Greek Orthodox Prepare for 2022 Celebration

Epiphany Tarpon Springs
Archbishop Elpidophoros blesses the young man who retrieved the cross from the waters of Tarpon Springs at the January 2021 Epiphany celebration. Credit: GOARCH

The annual Epiphany celebration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan will be held on January 6, 2022 at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, will be among the participants in this year’s observance, said the Reverend Fr. Athanasios Haros, Dean of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

“This blessing is an annual opportunity for us to recall our need for God’s grace, as the Archbishop beckons the Holy Spirit to descend upon the waters of Spring Bayou.”

On January 6th, Epiphany observances begin at 8 a.m. with Orthros (Matins) followed by the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 9 a.m. The Cathedral is located at 36 N. Pinellas Ave.

Elpidophoros to cast cross into the Tarpon Springs water to mark Epiphany

Following the Divine Liturgy and Great Blessing of the waters, Archbishop Elpidophoros, hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries and young men, will proceed to the Spring Bayou.

There, an invocation is recited and a white dove is released symbolizing the Holy Spirit to fly over the Bayou. The Archbishop will cast a white cross into the water and dozens of young men will dive for the cross, each seeking the honor of retrieving it. The retriever then kneels with the cross before the Archbishop for a blessing.

This year, the Cathedral is proud to announce the Inaugural Epiphany Lecture to take place on Friday, at 7pm, January 7, 2022, in Fr Tryfon Hall in Downtown Tarpon Springs.

Rev Dr John Chryssavgis will speak on the topic: “On Earth as in Heaven: Spiritual Roots of the Ecological Crisis.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

About the new lecture series, Fr Athanasios said, “We’re very excited to add this new element to our Epiphany Celebration. Since we are blessing creation, we felt it was important to discuss creation from a spiritual point of view.”

The Epiphany Lecture Series is anticipated to be an annual event. Fr. John Chryssavgis serves as theological advisor to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Born in Australia, he is the author of numerous books and articles on spirituality and ecology. He lives in Maine.

Tarpon Springs a Greek island in Florida

Tarpon Springs, in Pinellas County, Florida, resembles a Greek island, with its blue and white structures, street names, the boats in the harbor, and the Greek-themed shops and restaurants.

The picturesque town has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US. Many of them still work for the sponge industry which was started by their Greek ancestors.

Chris Alahouzos is the town’s proud mayor. Alahouzos and his family emigrated to the United States from the Greek island of Kalymnos when he was 14. His father was a sponge diver.

In 2020, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended the gala festivities, along with  Archbishop Elpidophoros, who officiated at the Liturgy and the Blessing of the Waters. This was the first time in history that a Greek prime minister had attended the Epiphany celebrations in Tarpon Springs.

What is Epiphany?

The feast day is one of the most important Christian celebrations of the entire year because it marks the commemoration of the revelation of Jesus Christ as the son of God.

Epiphany is also known as Theophany, and both of these terms derive from the Greek words for “revelation” and the “revelation of God,” or ”Επιφάνεια” (epipháneia) and ”Θεοφάνεια” (Theopháneia).

This unique feast is celebrated by both the Eastern and Western Church, and millions of people around the world participate in liturgies, Masses, blessings of the waters, and many other traditional events which take place on this day.

Video from the Epiphany celebration at Tarpon Springs in 2018:

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