«And you relics are real?»: why stand in line for imported relics

© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenkova in photobacteria of pilgrims to the relics of St. Nicholas«And you relics are real?»: why stand in line for imported relics© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenkova the image Bank

Among students and professors of theological academies since the XIX century there is a joke: «we Know that in different parts of the world there are five heads of John the Baptist. But scientists have proved the authenticity of only two.»

Of the relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Russia so widely it was announced that some even quite religious people began to raise questions. For example, why wait an average of three to four hours in line to touch the relic, if the particles of his relics are in many Russian churches? But the pilgrims somehow still go to Moscow, but certainly know that in their regions such shrines too. And then Moscow the relics of the Saint there are as many as 25 temples.

The Internet immediately began to receive lists of churches in Moscow, where the relics of St. Nicholas. The same thing happened in 2011, when brought belt of the virgin — its particles are permanently available for veneration in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and the Church of Elijah the Prophet in Obydensky lane. Although social networks and then there are disputes about the authenticity of the stored in Moscow relics.

But that doesn’t stop believers. Only in the last three days waiting in the temple of Christ the Savior upheld almost 75 thousand people. Why is this happening? And can we say that fake relics are widely distributed in the Russian churches?

«Ask the rector, the Prelate (Bishop — ed.) can they provide proof of the authenticity of the particles? How do we know? Because in the middle ages had a lot of crooks who were selling fake relics, in fact — the bones of ordinary people, so there are always questions» — draws the attention of the rector of the Patriarchal metochion of St. Nicholas in Bari, where he brought the relics, Archpriest Andrei Fighters.

It goes back to the IV century, when the remains of saints began to be extracted from the graves, exposing for all to see. In the V-VIII centuries the relics are beginning to trade. «Rome has turned into the dug-up graveyard where the hyenas howled and fought each other, eagerly otkapivat corpses,» wrote chronicler of the VIII century of a mass exhumation of the bones for sale to the Pope.

In the era of the Crusades the number of shrines in Europe just rolls over. In different countries began to appear their spears of Longinus (which, according to legend, anchored in the crucified Christ), their Grail (the chalice from the last supper), their relics of famous saints. The location of certain relics served as a kind of reference to the travellers.

Needless to say, the centres of pilgrimage — whether it be the tomb of St. James in Spain or the French city of Aachen — annually rescued a fabulous sum. It got to the point that between the Italian cities began a kind of competition: who will bring religious artifacts. Over time, the absolute leader is Venice, leaving behind Genoa, Naples and Bari in the town were kept the relics of 49. And the business was competitive, the Venetians made to the shrines of certificate of their authenticity, though not the fact that the documents were trustworthy.

And some shrines and is a shameless steal. So, the Venetians did a special operation on delivery of the relics to his city of Alexandria. To Muslim customs not discovered the Shrine, cunning traders put it in pig carcasses.

Later, the business on the relics will actively criticize the ideology of the reformation. In the XVI century there appeared various works, the authors are being ironic on this subject in the spirit: «if all the particles of the cross together, you get Noah’s ark».

In Orthodoxy, this issue is less formalized. The authenticity of the relics is determined in two ways. First — proved miracles of the sacred: a consideration of such cases in the ROC engaged in the Expert working group for the study of miraculous signs at the Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate.

«The miraculous icons or the relics of historically recent origin, along with the facts of miracles, important, speaking of relics, the history of their stay. That is, the relics of the saints XVII-XIX centuries can often be traced to the place of burial, where his remains were venerated,» explains a member of the Theological Commission, Professor of the Moscow theological Academy Archpriest Maxim Kozlov.

In the history of the Russian Orthodox Church were even cases, when doubts about the authenticity of the relics of the saints served as a pretext for their decanonization. It happened with the remains of Princess Anna of Kashin in the XVII century. In the Church noticed that they do not correspond to the data of their lives, where three says that they are not subject to decay. However, three centuries later, Princess tvse was returned to the calendar.

«To the saints of a more ancient time it is the fact a very long veneration of the Shrine at a particular location has already been included in Church tradition….Suppose we are talking about the belt of the virgin — it is impossible to trace its history in the first 600-800 years of Christianity, but a thousand-year stay of the Shrine on mount Athos, witnessed prayers before him ascetics, in this case is a sufficient factor,» explains FR. The history of the appearance of the relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker in Moscow churches, said the Archpriest, quite famous.

In some cases, when the Shrine becomes the focus of public attention, the Church enlists the aid of scientists. As in the case of authentication of the remains of the Royal family, which lasts until now. The results, as reported by Kozlov, «expected this year».

Judging by the rather relaxed reaction of the ROC was ready to criticise the queue. Representatives of the Patriarchate have repeatedly stressed that the point is not merely to touch the relics of St. Nicholas, but to make a real pilgrimage, though the length of just a mile.

«In itself, the bringing of the rib of Saint Nicholas it’s not like the opposition of some of those shrines, which are in Moscow, but as an opportunity for many people to relive the closeness to the Saint. We’re used to the shrines that are near to us — it is a question of psychology. The inhabitants of Jerusalem do not live continually in Holy awe, and we, being there, in awe of the greatest relics of the Christian world,» believes Archpriest Maxim Kozlov.

«So here — of the relics of Saint Nicholas in Russia is an opportunity for a large number of people to go beyond the usual, to make the effort, which is usually not solved. Now, as we see, people are willing to come, more than usual to pray, to spend a few hours in normal everyday hectic, and in a prayerful desire to be Holy. I think it is very positive and significant that the reason given,» — says the priest.

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