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On Saturday, dozens of people braved the cold to board the Spirit of Peoria Riverboat in order to participate in the annual blessing of the Illinois River.

All Saints Greek Orthodox Church of Peoria, IL, hosted the event. In addition, other Orthodox communities joined in the celebration: the Greek Orthodox parishes of Springfield, Decatur, Rock Island and East Moline, the Antiochia parishes of Peoria and Spring Valley, the OCA parish in Bloomington and the ROCOR parish of Peoria.

Prior to lowering the Cross into the frozen waters, His Grace Bishop Demetrios presided over the blessing of the Cross.

“We reenact, through our worship, the Baptism of Christ, by blessing the waters,” said Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, the Chancellor, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.”