The blood pressure of Moscow’s motorists has dropped to almost safe
levels now that the Belt of the Virgin Mary has left town for its home
in the Greek monastic complex of Mount Athos. Hundreds of thousands of
pilgrims had been queuing for weeks to see the relic, understood to be
an item of apparel of the Blessed Virgin, and believed to cure
barrenness and disorders of women’s health.
The results of the
miles-long queues and the bussing in of pilgrims from regional towns and
cities has been a series of mammoth traffic jams, the likes of which
have not been seen since the arrival of the head of Saint Panteleimon
the Healer 11 years ago. The multitudes queued to kiss the ornate box in
which the relic is held, but even a glimpse of the reliquary, it is
believed, can affect whatever cure the respective believers request.
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