Seven young children of varying ages were baptised en masse on Sunday at the the Sofia tou Theou Church in Strovolos in Nicosia as the Cyprus Church fulfilled its pledge to carry out Orthodox baptisms for free to help needy families.
Archbishop Chrysostomos presided over the christenings, carried out by seven different clerics using seven separate baptismal pools, as the church filled with families and relatives to witness the unprecedented event.
Of the seven children baptised on Sunday, two were four years old, one was aged five and the rest were infants. One of the children is from Syria. Godparents were found for three of the families. The children were christened Iphigenia, Irini, Iosif, Myrianthi, Eftychios, Angelos and Constantinos.
A reception for all of the families was held afterwards at the Archbishopric. The entire cost of the christenings was borne by the Church.
Archimandrite Ioannis told the Cyprus News Agency on Thursday that the Church had bought the children’s clothes and the crosses they wore. He urged parents who cannot afford to baptise their children to ask the Church for assistance.
A second mass baptism has been planned for a later date, this time with 15 children.
Baptism fees start from €50. Rates vary depending on the parish. There is also a ‘penalty’ if parents baptise their child in a parish other than the one they reside in.
The extra fee for transferring a baptism to another parish is around €70.
In December, Chrysostomos said that the Church was willing to help all those families to overcome the financial obstacles of the christenings.
“The Church cannot remain indifferent to the tragedy our country is going through,” he said. “We can christen for free all children, but also provide anything a christening ceremony needs”. He added that the Church can also find godparents for the children in the case the families cannot find a family member of any other person willing to do so.
He urged all parents with financial difficulties and whose babies are not christened to contact the archbishopric to “arrange the details”.