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The Latest: Greek Orthodox mark Epiphany with Istanbul swims

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The Latest: Greek Orthodox mark Epiphany with Istanbul swims

The Associated Press
Nicolaos Solis from Greece kisses the wooden cross which was thrown into the waters by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, during the Epiphany ceremony to bless the waters at the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

The Latest on the Epiphany observances Christians in many parts of the world are holding: (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

The Greek Orthodox Christian community in Istanbul has celebrated Epiphany with the traditional blessing of the waters.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians around the world and the archbishop of Constantinople, led the liturgy on Saturday at the Patriarchal Church of St. George.

The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates Jesus' baptism on Epiphany. Several blessings of the waters took place across Istanbul. The ceremony consists of a cross being tossed into the water to be retrieved by swimmers.

The patriarch threw the blessed cross into the waters of Istanbul's Golden Horn as the faithful jumped into the sea.

Nikos Solis, 29, a personal trainer from Greece, retrieved the wooden cross three years in a row.

Bartholomew presented Solis with a golden crucifix on a chain.

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11:50 a.m.

Pope Francis is advising against making the pursuit of money, a career or success the basis for one's whole life.

Francis said during a homily on Saturday to mark Epiphany that people "often make do" with having "health, a little money and a bit of entertainment."

He urged helping the poor and other needy communities instead, while giving freely without expecting anything in return.

Most Christian religions observe Epiphany to recall the three wise men who followed a star to find baby Jesus. Francis suggested asking "what star we have chosen to follow in our lives."

He said: "Some stars may be bright, but do not point the way. So it is with success, money, career, honors and pleasures when these become our lives."

That path, he says, won't ensure peace and joy.

Pope Francis advised against making the pursuit of money, a career or success the basis for one's whole life, urging people in his Epiphany remarks Saturday to also resist "the inclinations toward arrogance, the thirst for power and for riches."

Francis said during a homily at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica that people "often make do" with having "health, a little money and a bit of entertainment."

He urged helping the poor and others in need of assistance, giving freely without expecting anything in return.

Many Christians observe Epiphany to recall the three wise men who followed a star to find baby Jesus. Francis suggested asking "what star we have chosen to follow in our lives."

"Some stars may be bright, but do not point the way. So it is with success, money, career, honors and pleasures when these become our lives," the pope said. That path, he continued, won't ensure peace and joy.

Later, during an appearance from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, Francis told tens of thousands of faithful gathered below that some Christians prefer to live while indifferent to Jesus.

"Instead of conducting themselves in coherence with their own Christian faith, they follow the principles of the world, which lead to satisfying the inclinations toward arrogance, the thirst for power and for riches," Francis said.

He prayed that instead that "the world makes progress down the path of justice and of peace."

Francis noted that some Eastern Rite Catholic and Orthodox churches are celebrating Christmas this weekend. In expressing cordial wishes to these believers, Francis added, "May this glorious celebration be a source of new spiritual vigor and of communion among us Christians."

He also recalled the traditions such as in Poland, where many families join in processions recalling the three wise men. In some countries, Epiphany and not Christmas, is the holiday occasion to exchange gifts among loved ones.

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