(6 Jan 2020) Thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers plunged into icy waters across the world Monday to retrieve crosses tossed by priests in Epiphany ceremonies commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ.
In Istanbul, more than a dozen Orthodox men jumped into the frigid waters of the Golden Horn amid heavy rain in a ceremony led by Patriarch Bartholomew I.
Nikolaos Solis from Agrinio in Greece retrieved the wooden cross, the fourth time he has done so.
Another Greek man, who lost consciousness and had to be pulled out of the water, was taken to an ambulance.
The man is reported to be OK.
By tradition, the person who retrieves the wooden cross will be freed from evil spirits and will be healthy throughout the year.
After the cross is fished out, the priest sprinkles believers with water using a bunch of basil.
The Patriarchate in Istanbul is considered the heart of the Orthodox world and dates back to the Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when the Muslim Ottomans conquered the city in 1453.
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