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Russia: pilgrims for St Nicholas’ relics are now 700 thousand. Long queues, waiting amidst prayers and songs

The number of pilgrims who have already visited St Nicholas’ relics, that since May 21st and until July 12th will be kept in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, is nearing 700 thousand. On these extremely hot days, the organisers have repeatedly called the pilgrims to drink a lot of fluids, “protect their heads from the sun, wear comfortable shoes and remember to bring the medicines they usually take, because the queues can be very long sometimes”. The catering areas along the trail the pilgrims have to walk on before entering the cathedral have replaced the hot drinks of the last few weeks with water. On some days, the bus registration service is closed down, because all available parking areas are filled up. Pilgrims also come from Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic Republics. For choirs and singers who want to pray and sing next to the relics, there is a reservation service and a specific programme. About four thousand volunteers a week provide assistance to pilgrims; many come from the farthest regions (Ivanovo, Mari, Kazan, Perm, Smolensk). For them, there was a party in the evening of June 10th, and the “Summer 2017 Volunteers” Forum has already been set up to keep in touch with each other through the social platforms. The pilgrims patiently wait for their turn by praying and invoking St Nicholas: only the terrible downpour of May 30th that killed 11 people in Moscow made them flee away.

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