This account of a miraculous baptism in the River Jordan was contributed by Abbess Tamara (+1979), Superior of the Russian Convent on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Nearly twenty years ago a Bedouin was leaving Transjordan with a child in his arms; the child was very ill and the father was afraid, seeing him dying. He approached the holy river Jordan, went in and decided to christen the child himself, hoping to save him.
Three times he plunged the child into the holy waters of the river Jordan, each time saying with all his heart in prayer and faith: "My God, I don't know the words, but what the Orthodox priest says." Three times he plunged in the child, each time repeating the same words.
The child opened his eyes and was better, and the father brought him home alive, happy in himself. Later, when the child was quite recovered, he again crossed the river Jordan and came to Jerusalem to the Greek priest to ask him to christen the child.
Everything was prepared for the child's baptism, and the ceremony began. But--when the clergyman had to plunge the child into the water, he could not do so because, to his astonishment and fright, the water changed and became like a hard mirror. A moment later it was again simply water. But when the priest again and again tried to put the child in the water--each time there was a hard mirror-like surface instead of water.
The priest believed that this was a Divine sign that God had stopped the water from accepting the child and he was very frightened.
He asked the father, "What's wrong with your child?" The father'replied, "Nothing."
The priest then asked, "is he ill?
No," said the father, "only he was dying and I
put him into the Jordan and said three times: 'Like the Orthodox priest
says.'" The priest felt much relieved and told the father, "God
accepted your prayer; your child has been baptized already; he does not need to
be baptized again." Amen!
(Reprinted from "The Old Calendarist," July, 1976)
Those who feel doubtful concerning the foregoing account, may be unaware
that in exceptional circumstances the Church does in fact permit the Sacrament
of Baptism to be performed by a lay person. If someone is preparing for Baptism,
or is favorably disposed, and there is danger of his dying before he/she can be
baptized, any lay man or woman "has the right, and indeed the duty, to
perform the rite by thrice repeated immersion, or even by aspersion, or by
pouring of water on the bead, with the words, 'the servant (or handmaid)of God
(name) is baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.' Such a baptism is entirely valid.
Later on, the priest does not repeat the rite, but only completes it by saying
the omitted prayers and performing the omitted rites, then enters it into the
(From "A Manual of the Orthodox Church's Divine Services”, by Archpriest D. Sokolof.)[OA/_private/oabot.htm]