January, 8th, 2017, Saint-Jean Cassien Church, a few kilometers away from Aix-en-Provence, France. A dozen of believers are here to celebrate the Theophany, orthodox equivalent of the Epiphany.
Born in Romania, Mikhail arrived in France when he was eight years old. After studying aviation, and four years in theology university, he took holy orders.
THE PRIEST THAT BLESSED THE SLUMS
Father Mikhail officiate at Saint-Jean Cassien Romanian Church near Aix-en-Provence, France. Every beginning of the year is marked by the Theophany that celebrates the baptism of Christ in Jourdain’s waters. The liturgy is followed by the blessing of the believer’s homes. Houses and cars are sprayed with blessed water by the priest, in order to purify them. Despite the upper standards of living in the community, father Mikhail doesn’t bless mansions with pools but little houses haphazardly built here and there. There are dozens of those cabins around the city. Most of them are inhabited by extremely poor people from Romanian orthodox community. The contrast between the blazing cossack of the priest, between the divine presence and the poverty of the Roma population is extremely gripping. We followed father Mikhail in 2015 and 2017 during this celebration.