Holy Spirit flies with Tarpon Springs teenager

Posted On January 6, 2007

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Kalliope Cortessis will be the one wearing purple ribbons on her fingers, holding the Holy Spirit in her hands.

Kalliope, 16, watched girl after girl from her choir become a dove bearer, waiting patiently for her chance. “I never really cried because I knew would get to do it someday,” she said.

That day has arrived for the Tarpon Springs High School sophomore with long auburn ringlets and a shy smile. All eyes will be on Kalliope, who will release the stark white symbol of the Holy Spirit up into the sky above Spring Bayou during the 101st Epiphany celebration.

Especially the eyes of the cross divers, who will be quivering out in a ring of dinghies. After the dove, which is actually a homing pigeon, flies from Kalliope’s hands, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios will spin the blessed wooden cross toward the murky waters.

Kalliope’s brother, Manuel, will be among the dozens of teenage boys plunging from the boats into the Bayou in search of the Epiphany cross. The one to retrieve the cross is believed to have a year of good fortune.

Kalliope said she is honored to be bearing the dove. While she has gotten plenty of advice from former dove bearers, such as her mother, Renee Katsaras, who also grew up in Tarpon Springs, Kalliope said she is already a bit worried about how she and the Holy Spirit will get along. “I’m nervous about the bird, that I will hold it too tight,” she said.

The introduction will not happen until sometime during this morning’s liturgy, when she will slip out of the cathedral with a former dove bearer, who will help get the two get acquainted. For the next hour or two, through the procession and the service at the Spring Bayou, it will be just Kalliope and the bird.

Tarpon Springs is home to one of the world’s largest celebrations of Epiphany, an ancient Greek Orthodox ceremony commemorating Christ’s baptism. The dove bearer plays one of the most significant roles in the ritual.