Dozens of Orthodox Christian men from throughout the world dove into the cold waters of the Bosphorus to retrieve a cross thrown by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The celebration commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ and takes place throughout the Orthodox Christian world.
Bartholomew led worshippers in the Epiphany celebration, throwing a blessed wooden cross into the Golden Horn inlet.
Michalis Voznakidis, a pilgrim from Greece, took the cross and the men kissed it before coming ashore. He said “we are here for everyone, for our religion.”
The ceremony took place after Bartholomew granted independence to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, in a historic move that has angered Russia.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Metropolitan Epiphanius I of the new church joined the Epiphany celebrations in Istanbul after the “Tomos” or declaration of independence to the Ukraine was officially granted in a ceremony filled with historic symbolism.
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