The Macedonian Orthodox Church tradition to bless the water on Epiphany, today’s religious holiday in Macedonia, and lower a cross in the Vardar with believers retrieving it afterward will be held with a preselected ten swimmers who had previously taken part in the event, according to priest Boban Mitevski.

Mitevski told MIA church officials decided to hold the event this way so as to limit the number of people attending the ceremony, in line with public health protection guidelines.

An Epiphany liturgy, led by the Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, HH Stefan, was held earlier this morning at the Nativity of Virgin Mary church in downtown Skopje.

Attendees were asked to follow public health protection protocols.

Next, Archbishop Stefan will perform the Great Theophany Blessing of Water, lowering the Holy Cross from the Sloboda Bridge near the Holiday Inn hotel and blessing the water of the Vardar. The ten believers will then jump into the river to retrieve it.