St. Nicholas’s relics will stay in the Cathedral of the Savior through to July 14, after which they will be transported to St. Petersburg.Alexander Avilov / Moskva Agency
More than 25,000 came to Moscow’s downtown Cathedral of the Savior on May 22 to venerate the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker that were delivered to Moscow from Italian city of Bari on May 21.
"By 21:30, some 25,000 people came to the cathedral to venerate St. Nicholas’ relics," a police source told TASS. The doors were closed at 21:00 hours and access will resume on Tuesday, May 23. The police count the number of believers visiting the church by the number of passages through the metal detection gates installed at the entrance.
"At this moment, people continue queuing up and apparently don’t plan to go away for the night," the source said.
"Many of them will be waiting all through the night and early morning until public access to the cathedral resumes on Tuesday."
St. Nicholas' relics - the 9th left rib retrieved from the crypt in the basilica in Bari in the course of a special effort involving forensic experts’ assistance - will stay in the Cathedral of the Savior through to July 14, after which they will be transported to St. Petersburg.
The sojourn of the shrine in St. Petersburg will last through to July 28, after which it will return to Bari.
More than 1,000 servicemen of the Russian Guard are engaged in the operation to ensure security of the relics and to guard law and order on the compound of the cathedral and around it.
Russian Guard officials said earlier security measures would be tightened during the stay of the relics in Russia but this tightening would not pose any problems for the believers.
The Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I and Pope of Rome Francis I reached agreement on the delivery of St. Nicholas’s relics to Russia during their historic meeting in Havana on Feb. 12, 2016.
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