Holy spirit? Blessing the Waters? Epiphany? Not in Kiato, Northern Peloponnese. Crowds had gathered to watch the religious ceremony of Blessing the Waters on January 6th, the day Christians celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles and His Baptism in the Waters of the Jordan River by Ioannis Prodromos.
The crowd stood still, the cantors chanted the hymns, the priest was focused and the swimmers had taken position.
When the priest threw the Holy Cross into the sea, the swimmers jumped into the cold sea and quickly reached the point where the Cross had fallen.
One swimmer was the lucky one, the blessed one to catch the Cross, but another one wanted to be blessed as well. He grabbed the Cross from the hand of the lucky one …and the hell broke out.
The crowd started to shout “Shame! Shame!”, the swimmers reached the shore, the angry lucky one was saying “they stole the Cross from me!” The crowd was urging the Cross-catcher “Take the cross Back!” and the priest “Throw the Cross again, they will brawl!”.
The rest of the swimmers moved into the square and started to brawl, punches flew through the air and kicks landed on legs and buttocks. It needed the intervention of police and the coast guard to calm down the angered spirits. Even the priest tried to bring order by whistling.
Anger prevailed, though, and some threatened to file lawsuits and have the Cross-thief detained. “We will file a lawsuit”, “We’ll bring you to jail,” some shouted while others tried to diffuse tension by saying out loud “Xronia Polla!” (Many happy returns!).
The lucky one who was unlucky after all told local Korinthos TV “I caught the Cross and then some pushed me and stole it out of my hand,” and complained in outrage “I am baptized and I wanted to catch the Cross for Jesus glory!”
As the thief was allegedly a member of the local Roma community, the bystanders swore using insults and claimed “Gypsies are not baptized anyway” and that only “baptized Christians are entitled to catch the Cross,” so a local woman.
PS I heard, the Holy Spirit flew away from Kiato as quickly as it could….