Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epiphany's dove bearer readies for 'huge honor' in Tarpon Springs

TARPON SPRINGS — As an alto in her church choir, Effe Mia Maria Coburn is used to being among 34 other voices that blend together to create one lovely tone.

But next week, all eyes will be on her as she leads a procession through the streets of Tarpon Springs with a symbol of purity in her hands.

Coburn, 18, has been selected as the dove bearer for the 104th Epiphany ceremony on Jan. 6.

"It's a huge honor," she said. "I feel like I have a lot to live up to. In the Bible, the Epiphany was the only time that the Trinity was (mentioned) together."

The religious celebration will bring thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians to Tarpon Springs to watch 65 boys ages 16 to 18 dive for a white cross thrown into Spring Bayou.

The teenager who retrieves the cross, a symbol of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River, is guaranteed blessings and favor from the Lord.

Before the dive, Coburn, wearing a purple choir robe covered with a white smock with lace around the neck and bell-shaped sleeves, will release the white dove. The dove represents the presence of the Holy Spirit.

"It's a huge role for a female," Coburn said.

Understanding the importance of being the dove bearer is one of the reasons Coburn was selected, said Katie Faklis, the choir director at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Faklis has selected the dove bearer for more than 30 years.

"She's a very knowledgeable young woman and she takes things very seriously," Faklis said. "Her religion means a lot to her. It's not that 'I want to be in the choir because I want to carry the dove' type of thing. She is serious about her relationship with Christ."

By tradition, dove bearers must be faithful members of the choir and cannot be married.

Coburn's great-grandfather, Emmanuel Klimis, came to the United States in 1910 at the age of 10 from the island of Kalymnos, Greece. He worked as a sponger with his brothers and later purchased his own sponge boat. Klimis' tithes from his sponge fishing trips help build St. Nicholas Cathedral.

Coburn is a lifelong resident of Tarpon Springs and like her mother, Mary, graduated from Tarpon Springs High. Her father, Kyle, will be watching his daughter as she takes on the role while her 16-year-old brother, Henry, takes part in the procession. He will dive for the cross for the first time.

"This is every girl's dream," said Mary Coburn, a Tarpon Springs lawyer. "I never got the chance, so it's a great thing to see my daughter do it."

Coburn is currently a freshman at St. Petersburg College and plans to pursue a career in nursing or pharmacy.

She attended St. Nicholas Greek School and St. Nicholas Sunday School and, at the age of 8, became a choir member.

In 2007, Coburn's best friend since age 3 was the dove bearer. They are now both students at the college.

Kalliope Cortessis, 19, has given her friend some advice.

"Don't be nervous because it's a big responsibility," said Cortessis, whose mother was also a dove bearer. "Everybody is watching you. When holding the dove, don't hold on too tight but good enough so it doesn't get away. You will be a little nervous but once you get out there, you get used to it."

The dove bearer often wears a ring with a ribbon tied to it and the dove. That connection ensures that the dove doesn't fly away before it's time. Coburn will wear the ring that her grandmother gave her on her 16th birthday — the grandmother, Effe Klimis, she was named after.

"This is so special," Coburn said. "It means a lot to my family."

If you go

Saturday

What: Annual divers dance.

Where: Spanos-Pappas Community Center Theofilos Hall, 348 N Pinellas Ave.

When: 6:30 p.m. VIP reception, 7:30 p.m. dinner.

Details: Tickets $25 per person. Contact Ana Patsalides at (727) 410-1691.

Tuesday

What: Blessing of the fleet.

Where: Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

When: 11 a.m. – noon.

Jan. 6 Epiphany

8 a.m.: Orthros/Matins services at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 36 N Pinellas Ave, Tarpon Springs.

9:30 a.m.: Divine liturgy at the cathedral.

Noon: Blessing of the waters by Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta.

12:30 p.m.: Procession with clergy, altar servers, dignitaries, schoolchildren dressed in traditional Greek costumes, the choir, teen divers and the dove bearer.

Following ceremony: Glendi festival with food, drink, music and dancing begins at the Spanos-Pappas Community Center Theofilos Hall, 348 N Pinellas Ave. Admission is $3.

Epiphany's dove bearer readies for 'huge honor' in Tarpon Springs 12/29/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 8:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  5. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.