On Saturday, July 13, we baptized Damiani within the Divine Liturgy. Our good friends Justin and Kalliopi came from Thessaloniki to be the godparents. Also coming from Thessaloniki were Paul's godfather and Benny's godfather, as well as our friend Angela and her family. Kalliopi and Justin arrived late Friday due to work, so Saturday morning was the first time they met little Damiani. Here's Kalliopi as she sees the baby for the first time in the exo-narthex of our church.
Here are the triplets eyeing traditional presents (candies) that the godparents give out after the baptism.
My friend and current chant teacher, Kostas, came, along with this two sons, to help Nikos chant.
Here's Kalliopi holding a sleeping Damiani during Orthros. According to the late, great Liturgics Professor Fontoulis, the ancient typikon had the service of exorcism during Vespers the night before, but since it was not possible for everyone to arrive in time, we did it immediately before the baptism, which came at the end of Orthros.
Here's a great photo of Benny and Pres. Pelagia.
Here are the kids checking out the baptismal font as we read the prayers of exorcism.
And here we are during the baptism. The "Blessed is the Kingdom" which begins the baptismal service simultaneously begins the Divine Liturgy.
Anointing the baby with oil.
The godparents rubbing the baby with oil, preparing her--according to some interpretations--for spiritual battle.
We were blessed to have Fr. Joseph and Kh. Sophia here for the baptism, so Fr. Joseph had the honor of baptizing his newest granddaughter. The Greeks were shocked both by the fact that we baptized the baby so "young" (they're afraid the baby will die from exposure to the water, apparently), and the fact that we fully immersed it (they usually sit the baby in the water and pour water of his/her head). One woman even had to step outside because she was so afraid that the baby was going to drown.
Here are Pres. Pelagia and Kalliopi as they dressed the baby in the white dress that Kh. Sophia made.
The proud godparents.
After the chrismation, tonsuring, etc., we moved on to the readings from the baptism, which were simultaneously the readings for the Liturgy. The Liturgy then continued from the Gospel, which my friend, Dn. Gabriel, read. He also studied in Thessaloniki and attended church in Panorama with us but is now here in Volos. He came, along with his father, who is a priest in Corfu. They are both Romanian but of Greek descent.
Before the Dismissal, Pres. Pelagia came to make the traditional three "metanoias" to the godparents, kiss their hands, and receive the baby. Here she is with Damiani Sophia (the middle name in honor of my mother-in-law) at the end of the Liturgy.
Here is some of the crowd enjoying coffee at the end of the service, which went from 8:00 until 11:30. I was pleasantly surprised how packed the church was. I used the baptism within the Liturgy as an opportunity to expound upon the real meaning and importance of baptism, which unfortunately is often obfuscated here in Greece by worldly "customs." From what I can tell, the message was well received.
After coffee and pitas, we then lit the grill to prepare lunch for our out-of-town visitors, which we ate in the cool shade of the big trees in the courtyard shared by our house and the church.
One of our friends brought homemade ice cream, which this photo captures Benny thoroughly enjoying.
For more photos click here.