*** Today we see traditional veneration to St. Nicholas only in Russia
Moscow, June 8, Interfax - Expert on Orthodox shrines Mikhail Arteyev compared veneration to saints in Russia and in Europe and came to the conclusion that Russians tend to "imperial" ceremonies, which correspond the tradition.
"Today Moscow shows an example of former Catholic feasts, the way Paris, Rome, Venice used to celebrate it. Today everything is much more simple there. Only sodomites and corporations organize loud parades there. Perhaps, this is the main difference," said Arteyev, who is also the coordinator of centers for studying Orthodox shrines at the Russian Orthodox University and St. Petersburg Metropolis, director of the Holy Heritage charitable foundation.
According to him, when they saw off St. Nicholas relics in Bari, there was a feeling of a family member departing, (...) when we watched the live broadcast of meeting in Moscow it was an impression of imperial, global event."
Arteyev also said that a new generation of Italians venerate St. Nicholas "not so religiously."
"I know Italians who say "yes, we've heard something about the relics," when you mention the topic, but unfortunately this question is transferred from church to cultural dimension to them," he said and noted that it is "a common trend of dechristening Europe, Italy."
According to the interviewee of the agency, St. Nicholas is a "city-forming saint" for Bari and "owners of restaurants, hotels and taxi make money on pilgrims, not speaking about the basilica that sells various souvenirs and objects connected with the saint."
"I would say that today we see traditional European veneration of St. Nicholas only in Russia, in Europe it is rather an exception than a rule," Arteyev said.
He explains that the Catholic Church venerates St. Nicholas as a local saint, "his commemoration is not compulsory," and Arteyev believes it is a result of "rationalistic policy dictated by forces hostile to the Church."