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Greece celebrates Epiphany amid a surge in coronavirus cases

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People in Greece celebrated the Epiphany, one of Christianity’s most important feast days, on Thursday under strict COVID-19 protection measures.

On the remote Greek island of Gavdos, people gathered with masks on at a chapel in Karave harbour for the Blessing of the Waters ceremony.

Greece’s President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, was in attendance at the ceremony and gave a speech stressing the need to support the islanders that preserved and cared for this “beautiful cradle of Hellenism.”

READ MORE: A historic Blessing of the Waters for Port Adelaide’s Greek Orthodox Community.

“From the southernmost point of our homeland and of Europe, Gavdos, near our islanders who safeguard a beautiful facet of Hellenism, I wish the best to all,” Sakellaropoulou, who was made an honourary citizen of the island, said.

Sakellaropoulou celebrated the Epiphany at Gavdos island. Photo: InTime News.

Elsewhere, Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, celebrated Epiphany on the island of Agios Efstratios.

He attended a service officiated by the Metropolitan Ierotheos of Limnos and Agios Efstratios, and the Blessing of the Waters ceremony in the island’s harbour.

“Today, on this very important day for Orthodoxy, I wanted to be in the remote Agios Efstratios, a place with a deep history. A landmark of division and trial which, however, becomes a landmark of unity and optimism,” Mitsotakis said after the ceremony.

READ MORE: The Epiphany: What is it and why do Greeks celebrate it?.

Mitsotakis also expressed his hope that the Orthodox holiday will help bring illumination to all, especially those who were still vaccine hesitant. He urged them to get vaccinated “…to protect their own lives but also the safety and health of those they care for.”

On the mainland, in Athens, the liturgy of the Great Sanctification was performed at 9.30am in the Cathedral by the Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos.

These Epiphany services all came as Greece recorded 33,716 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, as well as 70 deaths.

READ MORE: Blessing of the Waters events across NSW and Victoria cancelled due to COVID-19.

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