President Constantine Tsatsos and other members of the Greek government travelled to the port of Piraeus, south-west of Athens, on tuesday (6 January) to take part in the city's traditional "blessing of the waters" ceremony.
SV Procession with priests and Bishop Chrissos-tomos marching towards harbour
SV President Tesatsos arriving and walking towards rostrum
GV Naval warship with sailors standing on deck
GV PAN Crowds during service
SV Bishop throws golden cross in hot water as ships sound sirens
GV Ship and crowd on quayside
SV Bishop pulling cross from water (2 shots) PAN TO (2 shots) PAN TO ships
Initials BB/1830 EW/AW/BB/1845
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Background: President Constantine Tsatsos and other members of the Greek government travelled to the port of Piraeus, south-west of Athens, on tuesday (6 January) to take part in the city's traditional "blessing of the waters" ceremony.
Piraeus has served as the main port for Athens for twenty-five centuries, and its Epiphany Day ceremony -- designed to protect the lives of al sailors -- is paralleled throughout Greece each year.
The ceremony began with a large procession of priests and worshippers through the streets of the city to the harbourside, led by the Bishop of Piraeus, Monsignor Chrissostmos.
After prayers for the safety of Greek seamen, the Bishop threw the golden Holy Cross from the Saint Trinity Church of Piraeus into the water, attached to a white ribbon, three times. Then it was kissed by the Bishop, the priests and the government leaders.
Further south, in Patras, harbour authorities banned youthful divers form entering the water to retrieve the cross form the harbour on the grounds that the sea is too polluted. This followed a similar ban last year in the northern city of Salonika.
SYNOPSIS: In the Greek port of Piraeus on Tuesday, hundreds of people joined priests and the town's Bishop, Monsignor Chrissostomos, in the procession of the Holy Cross to the harbourside for the traditional "blessing of the waters" ceremony.
The occasion marks the holy day of Epihany in the Christian calendar.
Celebrants were joined by the Greek President, Constantine Tsatsons, and other leading ministers for the annual ceremony, during which the Bishop prayed for the safety of all Greek seamen.
Ceremonies similar to that in Piraeus took place in ports all round the Greek coast on the same day. After prayers on behalf of the sailors, the Bishop threw the Holy Cross -- attached to a white ribbon -- into the harbour three times ... as ships sounded their sirens.
Later, after the Holy Cross had been retrieved for the final time, it was kissed by the Bishop. President Tsatsos, and senior Cabinet ministers.
Further to the south, in the port of Partas, harbour authorities banned part of the ceremony--retrieval of the Cross by young divers--because the water was too polluted for Safety.