Blessing of the Ohio River service set for Sunday at Steubenville Marina

The Rev. Gregory Thompson of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church of Steubenville together with St. Nicholas Orthodox Church of Weirton will celebrate Theophany with a traditional blessing of the Ohio River from the Steubenville Marina on Jan. 5 at 2:30 p.m.

“We warmly welcome public attendance of all faiths for this uplifting service,” a spokesperson said, noting, “To the best of my recollection, this has not been done in the immediate area but has been done by parishes in Barton, Ohio, and the Pittsburgh area on a regular basis.”

Regarding the Orthodox celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, the spokesman noted:

“The celebration of this Feast of our Lord begins on Jan. 5, a day known as the Forefeast of Theophany. Depending on the day of the week, this could be an evening service with Vespers followed by the Liturgy of Saint Basil or a morning service with Matins and the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. Following the service on Jan. 5, the service of the Blessing of the Waters is conducted. Prior to the evening or morning service, the Royal Hours with the Typika are said.

“On Jan. 6, the day of the Feast, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is conducted preceded by Matins and followed by the second Blessing of the Waters.

“The Blessing of the Waters is conducted in the church; however, in many places throughout the world, services are conducted near open bodies of water. As a sign of blessing as Christ blessed the Jordan, holy water is poured into the body of water. An associated tradition has been the tossing of a cross into the water to be retrieved by divers.

“The holy water from the church is given to the faithful to consume and to use in blessing their homes. In the weeks following the feast, clergy visit the homes of parishioners and conduct a service of blessing using the holy water that was blessed on the Feast of Theophany.