Georgia celebrates Epiphany

Tonight will be the 34th mass baptism ritual held by Patriarch Ilia II. Photo by: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters, 19 Jan 2014 - 13:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

Orthodox Christians in Georgia and across the world celebrate Epiphany today.  

Epiphany, one of the twelve main Christian feasts, celebrates the revelation of  the son of God as a  human being  in  Jesus Christ. The occasion commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Last night the Black Sea was blessed by the Archbishop of Batumi and Lazeti Dimitryin the seaside city of Batumi before hundreds of people braved the cold water and took part in a traditional ceremony commonly known as the Epiphany dip. It is believed the water of Epiphany is full of healing properties and can purify you of your sins. Meanwhile in the yard of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church in Tbilisi the great water blessing ceremony was performed by the Catholicos Patriarch Ilia II this morning.  

Those in attendance were sprinkled with holy water and were able to take some holy water home after the ceremony. It is believed the holy water contains the immortal features of the river Jordan. In times of sickness or trouble, believers can drink the water to help aid them in their discomfort.  

After the ceremony Ilia II and the members of the Holy Synod led a festive liturgy at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.  

This evening Ilia II will baptize hundreds of children - a tradition introduced by the patriarch. Tonight will be the 34th mass baptism ritual held by the Catholicos Patriarch and he will become godfather to 610 children. The baptism ceremony will begin at 5pm at the Cathedral Church.  

To date, the Georgian Catholicos Patriarch is godfather to 19 136 children.  

The first mass baptism ceremony was held in the Holy Trinity Cathedral on 19 January, 2008.  

Ilia IIs initiative was aimed to improve the demographic situation in the country since he becomes a godfather of babies born into Orthodox Christian families who already have two or more children.