Volume 20, Number 35 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 12 - 18, 2010
Diving for a blessing, a cross and good luck
Parishioners from St. Nicholas Church, which was demolished during the 9/11 attacks, held one of the time-honored Epiphany rituals in Battery Park this past Sunday. The Blessing of the Waters and casting of the Holy Cross into New York Harbor was conducted after a mass at Saints Helen and Constantine Church in Downtown Brooklyn.
The ritual began with a procession from Pier 1 to one of the slips near where the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island ferries dock. Crosses and religious artifacts were carried and chants were sung as the priests and divers boarded an FDNY rescue boat. At the appropriate moment, the swimmers were told to be ready and the gold cross was thrown into the water with a tether.
The successful diver, George Kantris, hoisted the cross into the air and swam back to the boat. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a small cross and a personal blessing from the priest to ensure good luck for the coming year. The ceremony concluded with the release of a white dove.
— Joseph M. Calisi