“To the Jordan River”

“The Blessing of the Waters on the feast of Theophany originated in the Church of Jerusalem and in the fourth to fifth centuries was performed only in this Church: the faithful came to the river Jordan for Blessing of the Waters in commemoration of the Baptism of the Savior. That is why on the feast of Theophany water is usually blessed in rivers, streams and wells (“walk to Jordan” processions), because Christ was baptized outside the Church. But on the Eve of Theophany water is blessed in churches,” writes Germogen Shimanskiy in his article on liturgics for the seminary.

One hundred years ago: “Procession to the Jordan with the Holy Royal Passion Bearer, Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II.

“Grant sanctification, blessing, cleansing and health to all those who have contact with it, and to those upon whom it is poured, and to those who receive of it,” says the prayer of the Great Blessing of the Waters. So let us make an effort, so that in coming into contact with the Great Agiasma would bring us health not just of the body, but also of the soul. Let us pray, go to church services, confess often, and as our strength allows, worthily partake of Christ’s Holy Gifts, sanctifying both soul and body.

Over the past centuries the tradition of immersion in blessed waters developed in each Local Orthodox Church in its own unique way. This is what you will see in the photo gallery below.

The Baptism of our Lord.

The Baptism of our Lord.

Miniature, 985.

Russian pilgrims on the river Jordan, early 20th century.

Russian pilgrims on the river Jordan, early 20th century.

A white dove. The Baptism of the Lord, in the Jordan.

A white dove. The Baptism of the Lord, in the Jordan.

2015. Photo: rusdm.ru

The Jordan, Theophany, 2013.

The Jordan, Theophany, 2013.

Photo: rusdm.ru

The Baptism of the Lord in the River Jordan, 2014.

The Baptism of the Lord in the River Jordan, 2014.

Photo: rusdm.ru

The Jordan today.

The Jordan today.

Photo: L. Misrachi, Getty Images

The Jordan

The Jordan

Photo: rusdm.ru

Very different latitudes: Nyurengri, Yakutia (eastern Russia, the coldest inhabited region in the world).

Very different latitudes: Nyurengri, Yakutia (eastern Russia, the coldest inhabited region in the world).

Photo: pravyakuria.ru

Blessing of the Waters on the river Chulman, Yakutia, Russia.

Blessing of the Waters on the river Chulman, Yakutia, Russia.

Photo: pravyakuria.ru

Yakutia

Yakutia

Photo: pravyakuria.ru

Yakutia

Yakutia

Photo: pravyakuria.ru

Right by the sea: the Lanzheron beach in Odessa, the Ukraine

Right by the sea: the Lanzheron beach in Odessa, the Ukraine

2015. Photo: eparhiya.od.ua

With the blessing of Metropolitan Agafangel, Bishop Diodor is performing the Great Blessing of the Waters on the Black sea’s shore.

With the blessing of Metropolitan Agafangel, Bishop Diodor is performing the Great Blessing of the Waters on the Black sea’s shore.

2015. Photo: eparhiya.od.ua

Odessa, the Great Blessing of Waters near the Holy Dormition’s Monastery,

Odessa, the Great Blessing of Waters near the Holy Dormition’s Monastery,

2013. Photo: eparhiya.od.ua

Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan: a priest right after immersing in an ice-hole (“prorub”).

Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan: a priest right after immersing in an ice-hole (“prorub”).

2013. Photo: epiharia.kz

Tomsk. Photo: D. Kindinsky

The famous Russian boxer Nikolai Valuyev.

The famous Russian boxer Nikolai Valuyev.

The land blessed by the spiritual labors of St. Sebastian of Karaganda. Bishop Sebastian of Karaganda (Kazakhstan) is performing the Blessing of the Waters.

The land blessed by the spiritual labors of St. Sebastian of Karaganda. Bishop Sebastian of Karaganda (Kazakhstan) is performing the Blessing of the Waters.

Photo: eparhiz.kz

The Karaganda Diocese, an ice hole for the Blessing of the Waters on Lake Jartas.

The Karaganda Diocese, an ice hole for the Blessing of the Waters on Lake Jartas.

Photo: eparhiz.kz

Uzbekistan: Metropolitan Vikenty is blessing the water in the holy font at the cathedral.

Uzbekistan: Metropolitan Vikenty is blessing the water in the holy font at the cathedral.

Photo: pravoslavie.uz

Kamchatka.

Kamchatka.

Photo: pravkamchatka.ru

Kamchatka Peninsula—35 degree below zero (centigrade).

Kamchatka Peninsula—35 degree below zero (centigrade).

Penzhina district, Kamchatka. Photo: pravkamchatka.ru

Prielbrusiye (Elbrus region), Kabardino-Balkaria (Caucaus Mountains), Russia: in a special service unit a soldier immerses himself in the blessed waters of the river Adir-Su.

Prielbrusiye (Elbrus region), Kabardino-Balkaria (Caucaus Mountains), Russia: in a special service unit a soldier immerses himself in the blessed waters of the river Adir-Su.

One of the Rostov-on-Don Diocese’s holy fonts.

One of the Rostov-on-Don Diocese’s holy fonts.

Photo: rostoveparhia.ru

In the Diocese of Yekaterinburg holy fonts are installed even in prison churches.

In the Diocese of Yekaterinburg holy fonts are installed even in prison churches.

Inside the prison Church of Venerable Martyr Vadim of Persia on the territory of the penal colony no. 10. Photo: ekaterinburg-eparhia.ru

A prisoner immerses himself thrice.

A prisoner immerses himself thrice.

Photo: ekaterinburg-eparhia.ru

Saratov, the holy font of the Church of the Meeting of the Lord.

Saratov, the holy font of the Church of the Meeting of the Lord.

The Zaton village, the city of Saratov. Photo: A Kurochkin

Georgia: “Walk to the Jordan”. The procession is headed by Metropolitan Dimitry of Batumi.

Georgia: “Walk to the Jordan”. The procession is headed by Metropolitan Dimitry of Batumi.

In 2000 he initiated the revival of this tradition in Batumi. Photo: netgazeti.ge

Batumi: Metropolitan Dimitry is immersing himself in the blessed waters.

Batumi: Metropolitan Dimitry is immersing himself in the blessed waters.

Photo: netgazeti.ge

And in Greece there is another tradition: A young man rejoices at having taken the cross thrown into the sea during the Blessing of the Waters.

And in Greece there is another tradition: A young man rejoices at having taken the cross thrown into the sea during the Blessing of the Waters.

The Blessing of the Waters: Metropolitan Nicholas of Fthiotida is throwing the cross in the water.

The Blessing of the Waters: Metropolitan Nicholas of Fthiotida is throwing the cross in the water.

2016. Photo: Romfea.gr

Fthiotida: a procession of the cross towards the sea with an icon of the feast.

Fthiotida: a procession of the cross towards the sea with an icon of the feast.

2016. Photo: Romfea.gr

Sarande, Albania.

Sarande, Albania.

2016. Photo: Romfea.gr

Kosovo. Diving after the Holy Cross.

Kosovo. Diving after the Holy Cross.

Kosovska Mitrovica, 2014. Photo: spc.rs

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia is throwing the cross in the water.

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia is throwing the cross in the water.

Belgrade, 2013. Photo: spc.rs

The Blessing of the Waters in Bulgaria: the procession is leaving Backovo Monastery.

The Blessing of the Waters in Bulgaria: the procession is leaving Backovo Monastery.

2016. Photo: bg-patriarshia.bg

Backovo Monastery, diving after the cross.

Backovo Monastery, diving after the cross.

2016. Photo: bg-patriarshia.bg

“The day of the Jordan” in Bulgaria.

“The day of the Jordan” in Bulgaria.

Photo: BGNES

Ice-cold water of the river Tundzha, Bulgaria.

Ice-cold water of the river Tundzha, Bulgaria.

Photo: BGNES

The Blessing of Waters and Theophany immersions in Alexandria.

The Blessing of Waters and Theophany immersions in Alexandria.

Patriarch Theodore II is releasing a pigeon. Alexandria, 2016. Photo: patriarchateofalexandria.com

Theophany ice-hole on Valaam,

Theophany ice-hole on Valaam,

2014. Photo: valaam.ru

On the way to the Jordon--Theophany ice-hole.

On the way to the Jordon--Theophany ice-hole.

2013. Photo: valaam.ru

Abbot of Valaam Monastery Bishop Pankraty of Troitsk is blessing the waters.

Abbot of Valaam Monastery Bishop Pankraty of Troitsk is blessing the waters.

2013. Photo: valaam.ru

Optina Monastery. God’s people.

Optina Monastery. God’s people.

Photo: optina.ru

The Svyatogorsk (“Holy Mountain”) Lavra, Eastern Ukraine: Metropolitan Arseny of Svyatogorsk is performing the Great Blessing of the Waters.

The Svyatogorsk (“Holy Mountain”) Lavra, Eastern Ukraine: Metropolitan Arseny of Svyatogorsk is performing the Great Blessing of the Waters.

Photo: svlavra.church.ua

A dove in Svyatogorsk Lavra.

A dove in Svyatogorsk Lavra.

Photo: svlavra.church.ua

The cross procession is returning to Svyatogorsk Lavra.

The cross procession is returning to Svyatogorsk Lavra.

Photo: svlavra.church.ua

The Great Blessing of the Waters on the Volga River is being performed by late Archbishop Alexis (Frolov) of Kostroma.

The Great Blessing of the Waters on the Volga River is being performed by late Archbishop Alexis (Frolov) of Kostroma.

2012. Photo: kostromaeparhia.ru

Archbishop Alexis (Frolov) of Kostroma. Last Theophany before his repose.

Archbishop Alexis (Frolov) of Kostroma. Last Theophany before his repose.

January 19, 2012. Photo: kostromaeparhia.ru

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