BUCHAREST — Thousands of Orthodox Romanians lined up on Thursday to fill bottles with holy water provided by churches for Epiphany, but in Timisoara the supposedly miraculous liquid was supplied directly at the tap.
Orthodox priest Zaharia Peres consecrated the water in the huge reservoirs supplying the city of 300,000 so as to allow as many believers as possible to benefit from its powers.
"The celebration of Boboteaza (the Orthodox equivalent of Epiphany) will bring peace to all those drinking this holy water," Peres said during mass, while sprinkling holy water on the tanks and pipes of the Bega water treatment plant.
The initiative, which enjoyed the logistic support of the water company Aquatim, was hailed by many inhabitants.
"It's great to have holy water at the tap, especially for disabled people like me, who cannot go to church" Mariana Mocanu, 53, told AFP.
"I have filled several bottles so I can drink a glass every now and then," she added.
But other inhabitants chose to go to church to get the holy liquid, fearing the rusty pipes could deprive it of its powers.
In Constanta, 260 kilometres (160 miles) east of Bucharest, dozens of young men plunged into the ice-cold Black Sea waters to retrieve a cross thrown by the bishop in keeping with Orthodox tradition.
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