The Feast of Epiphany comes to close the range of winter church holidays, following the feasts of Nativity and of Circumcision of the Lord.
Epiphany, or Theophany means the appearance of the Lord, embodiment of God Jesus Christ, when the eternal Logos (Word of God) took human flesh and came amidst people. In the very beginning of the Christian Era the feast of the Theophany celebrated two events that constituted immense importance for the salvation of people: that of the Nativity of Christ, and that of His Baptismal. The time before the Theophany was used by Catechumens – candidates to become Christians – to prepare for baptismal. They fasted and prayed, participating in Church meetings and in the first part of the Divine Liturgy. They used to leave the Service at the end the Liturgy of Catechumens, after which the Liturgy of the Faithful would begin, when all those baptized stayed on to take the Holy Eucharist, that is, the Flesh and Blood of Christ.
In the third century the Feast of the Theophany was divided: the Nativity and Baptismal of the Lord started to be celebrated separately. Thus, the Nativity of the Lord began to be celebrated on the 25th of December, and the Baptismal – on the 6th of January, in place of the previously existing feast of the Theophany.
Traditionally, the Feast of the Baptismal of the Lord is preceded fore-feast. Thus, on the 5th of January (18th of January in civil calendar), Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, preceded by Great Hours and Great Vespers and Matins services are celebrated. After the Amvon Prayer, in the end of the Liturgy, the clergymen and lay Christians go to the narthex of the Church, and the service of the blessing of the Great Aghiasma starts. On the 6th of January, the Feast of the Holy Baptismal of Christ, the same service is celebrated, only with ordinary, not Great Hours, and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated, followed by the Great Aghiasma blessing after the Amvon Prayer. The following day, 7th of January celebrates the Synaxis of the Holy Prophet and Forerunner John, who baptized Jesus Christ in the waters of the Jordan River.
Thus, His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great on the 18th (5th) of January, and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on the 19th (6th) of January, with the service of the blessing of the Great Aghiasma (holy water) in both days.
On the Fore-Feast of the Baptismal of Christ, His Eminence Vladimir ordained deacon Eugen Bitca into priesthood, wishing the young priest to be a worthy and wise servant of the Holy Altar.
On the Baptismal of Christ, among the church-goers, present were state officials: Mr. Nicolae Timofti, President of the Republic of Moldova, Mr. Marian Lupu, Parliament Speaker, Mr. Vlad Filat, Prime Minister, praying for the prosperity of the nation and sharing the joy of the feast.
Traditionally, a group of the National Army representatives were present, who were asked to shoot several volleys at the moment of the blessing of the Holy Waters. This is an old tradition, where the sound of the shooting symbolizes the voice of God – Father that was head from the Heavens saying “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).