This is just bizarre ... What is it with these Russian newspapers??
Ancient Hand Inspires Talk of Miracles
By Anastasiya Lebedev
Thousands of people, many of them old women wearing long skirts and head scarves, shaded themselves with umbrellas as they waited for hours Wednesday to see and kiss a chest containing the purported right hand of John the Baptist.
"It's not every day that they bring something so holy to Moscow," Svetlana Chausova said, standing near the head of the line at 1 p.m. Chausova, 31, and most of her family had been waiting to get into Christ the Savior Cathedral since 6 a.m. Her husband had to give up earlier to go to work ..."
The relic was on display from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. when it first arrived. But the church authorized around-the-clock viewing this week due to the long line.
Several groups of women in line huddled under umbrellas to sing prayers. Nuns in long black habits and priests surrounded by their parishioners waited patiently and spoke of a holy apparition. Father Alexander from Zvenigorod, near Moscow, said that people waiting in line Friday had seen a rainbow halo around the sun and that attempts to photograph it resulted in images of an oil lamp with a blood-red cross over it. Marina, 75, who did not want to give her last name, said she had seen the rainbow and the photographs. She said she had seen another holy apparition in her hometown of Ramenskoye, near Moscow, last month, when a cross appeared in the sky over her church after a religious service.
Alexei Zagalsky, 13, and Timofei Zholninsky, 14, said they had come with their families but had managed to wiggle ahead in line. Zholninsky said praying to the relic would help their future.
"Yeah, when we're dead," Zagalsky quipped, causing his friend to argue that the prayers might help them with their university entrance exams. "All right, it could help us earlier than that," Zagalsky conceded.
The metro station exit leading to the cathedral was lined with panhandlers, apparently counting on the generosity of those going to see the relic. An ice cream vendor frantically handed out cones to perspiring customers.
Fotina, a 45-year-old nun, walked along the line of waiting believers to collect donations for the restoration of the 16th-century Poshekhonsky Convent, 500 kilometers northeast of Moscow in the Yaroslavl region. She said the convent, where she lives, had sent her to Moscow to collect money while the relic was in town.
Raisa, 65, who had been waiting since 6:30 a.m., said she had seen many relics and had been healed by praying to them. She refused to elaborate.
Nikolai, 50, came from the town of Chekhov, near Moscow, to pray for his wife, who was recovering after surgery.
Standing next to him with a violin case, Alla Kharitonova, 27, said she was running between the line and concerts scheduled for the day. She wore jeans but said she had a skirt in her bag to put on once she got inside the church.
Rimma Golubeva, 70, said she had heard that the hand had healed a man this week. She herself planned to pray for God to send a tsar to rule Russia. "Until there is a tsar, Russia won't lift its head," she said.
Sergei Kislitsyn, 27, who got up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a train from the Tver region, emerged from the church with a bewildered smile at 2:30 p.m. "It was like being hit over the head, only spiritually," Kislitsyn said.
He said he had seen other relics but had never had such a powerful experience. Asked what he had prayed for, he said, "To stop smoking. And to be saved, of course."