The celebration of the Feast of Theophany of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was augmented by the traditional swimming event for the Holy Cross at Princes Pier, Port Melbourne this Tuesday, 19 January at 18:30.

We had first gathered for the service of the Great Blessing of the Waters when Fr Milorad and Fr Petar offered prayers on behalf of our parish and the whole City of Melbourne, for the glory of the consecration of all the waters, rivers, and seas of this world by the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After the Service, Fr Milorad explained the significance of this Feast and how the Church considers it the day of Theophany - when the Holy Trinity was announced to the world.

The second Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity, the Son, was joined by the voice of the Father proclaming the famous words: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”, together with The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove above the Son’s head.

Afterwards, we proceeded to the swimming events. In the children’s category, last year’s winner Simeon Stanojkovic dropped the cross into shallow waters of New Beach next to the Princes Pier, announcing the start of the kids' race. The first to reach the Holy Cross, which is kept and cherished as a memory of this event, was Simeon’s brother Zaharije Stanojkovic.

After the children’s race, the main event was staged. Fr Petar took the cross further from the pier in a boat, and gave the sign to the swimmers to kick off. Two groups quickly formed, with the younger cohort some 5-10m in front of the smaller group of senior swimmers. It looked like one of the young bloods will be the winner, as was the case on previous occasions.

However, the light wind became stronger, pushing the gentle swell of the ocean into small waves. These did not deter our swimmers in the slightest, but managed to nudge the supporting wreath enough for the metal cross to slowly sink into the depths, just before the lead swimmers were able to grasp it.

Now, everyone started diving around the boat into the murky water, which was getting darker and darker as dusk fell on the beach. By that time, our senior swimmers caught up, and by the mercy of God, your webmaster, Nebojsa Stefanovic spotted the cross, dived to the sandy bottom, and managed to bring it up to the surface.

Although it is fair to say that the younger boys were somewhat deprived of the trophy retrieval elation, all were joyous that the cross was recovered from the ocean and, in true sportsmanship and festive spirit, congratulated the unlikely but lucky winner.

Let this be a notable lesson that “Man plans, but God decides”, as the traditional Serbian proverb goes. And swimming goggles can sometimes help, too.

After taking the photos, the swimmers and parishioners stayed until dark, commenting on the unusual race and enjoying each other’s company, while dining on excellent traditional food and nibbles prepared by our dear sisters from the Circle and organised by the CSS President, Cvija Glogovac.

Let us all gather again next year at this glorious time!


More photos and videos are available here.