Monday, 28 November 2011

Virgin Mary’s girdle

A chunk of the Virgin Mary’s girdle, made of camel hair and preserved for centuries since its owner headed heavenwards according a lot of Christians. For several Christians it is a holy relic, which is now on tour in Russia and drawing crowds of Orthodox believers on a scale that makes U2 concerts look under-populated

The belt is usually kept in a monastery on Mount Athos, Greece, but has been toted round a series of Russian cities over the past few weeks, ending up in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour – the vast white and gold post-USSR replacement for an Orthodox cathedral razed under Stalin. Pilgrims are flooding in to kiss the relic, which is believed to have special powers to treat infertility and promote health.

For the Orthodox Church, already enjoying a resurgence and snowballing membership since the USSR fell apart, the public display of faith is an apparent triumph: devotion doesn’t come much plainer than this. Not everyone agrees, though: even among the faithful, the extremity of the response (at least half a million people have turned out in Moscow alone, and another two million elsewhere in Russia) smacks a touch too much of superstition, of a kind of mass hysteria.

Read the whole story:
  1. Belt up! – the Virgin Mary comes to Moscow

  2. Belt up part II – how the Virgin Mary won Russia’s elections