The West

True believers take the plunge

As the cross arced upwards from the priest's hand and splashed into the Swan River, the crowd of young men rushed forward.

Dozens from the Greek Orthodox Christian faith plunged into the water at Matilda Bay Reserve to retrieve the Holy Cross, as part of the annual Epiphany Day celebrations.

Jason Saldaris was jubilant to retrieve the cross - seen as a great blessing - surfacing with it in hand and kissing it before bringing it ashore.

Greek Orthodox parish priest Father Elpidios Karalis, who hosted the annual Blessing of the Waters at Matilda Bay yesterday, said Mass attendance at Church was "stable".

"There's always room for improvement," he said. "You see people on feast days, at Easter, at Christmas, but not everyone comes every Sunday."

For winning the event, in which young men and women dived into the river to retrieve the cross, Mr Saldaris got a gold chain.

"The reason we throw the cross in the river is it sanctifies the Lord and all creation," Father Elpidios said.

He recalled attending the event as a young boy, and said it was wonderful to see so many young families there.

The West Australian

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