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Orthodox Christians are celebrating on January 19 the Twelfthtide - the Epiphany
Orthodox Christians are celebrating on January 19 the Twelfthtide (one of twelve holy days) - the Epiphany, or the Holy Manifestation of Christ. This morning, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II will perform a divine liturgy and the office of great consecration of water in the Cathedral of the Theophany, which was named in honour of this feast, said the Moscow Patriarchate's external church relations department. On the day of Christ's baptism, believers recall how at the age of 30 Jesus Christ came from Galilee to the Jordan River in order to accept baptism of water from St. John the Precursor. Church legend has it that when Jesus came up out of the Jordan waters, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit like a dove descended upon him. "And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," says the gospel according to St. Mark. In that way, the world witnessed the appearance of the Holy Trinity: God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, which descended like a dove upon Christ, and God the Father, announcing Christ from heaven. This is why the Epiphany is also called the Theophany. Christians have been marking it since apostolic times. There is evidence preserved by hierarch Clement of Alexandria who lived in the 2nd century about an all-night vigil performed before the feast of the Baptism of Christ. Since the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder-Worker, St. Hippolytus the Martyr and all the Holy Doctors of the Church held on the day special discussions with the faithful to explain its meaning. Thus, St. John Chrysostom said that Jesus Christ took baptism in the Jordan not to repent (He did not sin) and not to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (He was partaker of the Ghost from his birth). Jesus accepted baptism to become known to the people who gathered in great numbers on the banks of the Jordan River and in order, as is said in the Gospel, "to fulfil all righteousness". "Righteousness", according to St. John Chrysostom, meant obedience to God who dispatched St. John the Precursor to baptize people with water. By the tradition established in Russia, on this day many believers, despite frosts, bathe in an ice hole. Every year, on the eve of the feast (the Eve of the Theophany) and on the day of the Epiphany itself, people line up outside the churches to get baptismal holy water. Worshippers keep it throughout the year, drinking by small bits - to promote bodily and spiritual health. It is advised to do so in the morning on an empty stomach. Baptismal water is also used to asperse a house to call the grace of God upon it.
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