13 June 2006, 14:22
Thousands queue day and night for worshiping John the Baptist’s right hand in Moscow
Moscow, June 13, Interfax - Thousands of pilgrims from all Russia and other countries queue many hours every day for the Church of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, to worship the right hand of St. John the Baptist, the prophet and baptizer of the Lord.
An Interfax correspondent reports that believers have queued twenty-four-hour for almost a week for an opportunity to worship the holy relic brought to Russia from Montenegro. People stand in line from Volkhonka street to Prechistenskaya embankment, thus rounding a half of the largest cathedral in Moscow.
Many believers wish to worship the holy right hand not only on weekends, but on workdays as well, standing in the line from dawn. Patriarch Alexy II gave his blessing to ensure access to the St. John the Baptist’s relic during twenty-four hours, as many had not managed to enter the cathedral before its closing after queuing for many hours.
People say it took them no less than five or even six hours to enter the cathedral. Families with little children and the elderly stand in a long queue, changing each other ‘at the post’ to have a short respite.
Neither fatigue, nor the narrow entrance or changing weather stand in the way of the most of believers. Some of them told an Interfax that even a strong storm on Sunday afternoon, the feast of the Holy Trinity, did not troubled the pilgrims. They got soaked to the skin, but persevered in their undertaking.
They say that none of them fell ill.
According to numerous testimonies, people in the queue are calm and good-natured in spite of their fatigue and certain inconveniences. The worshippers sing troparions and akathist hymns to St. John the Baptist.
Security guards at the Church of Christ the Saviour talked with an Interfax correspondent and confirmed that there were no unpleasant excesses or acts of hooliganism during the relic’s stay in the church.
The multitude of people can be always seen at the Church of Christ the Saviour when a holy relic famous in the Orthodox world is brought to Moscow. As the Primate of the Russian church noted in his message on the occasion of the arrival of St. John the Baptist’s right hand in Russia, the worshipping of the Orthodox relics has again become ‘a pious tradition that helps spiritual assertion of faith and strengthens fraternal relations among Orthodox Slavonic peoples.’
The right hand of St. John the Baptist will stay in Moscow till June 16 and then will be brought to some Russian cities, including Nizhniy Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, St.Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don, and also Minsk and Kiev in order that, as Alexy II put it, ‘we could with one heart and one mouth bring a convincing testimony to the intransient beauty and truth of Holy Orthodox in the present-day world.’