MOSCOW, November 24 (Itar-Tass) —— A queue to the St.Mary's relic displayed in the Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow has been moving three times faster after the relic was raised onto an arch big enough for three people to pass simultaneously. Pilgrims have been either kissing or touching the arch and placing their objects of religious worship onto the arch where the relic is. A ceremony of religious worship is likely to continue that way until Sunday, November 27, when the Belt of the Virgin Mary is to leave Moscow.
The number of the pilgrims who had been to Christ the Savior cathedral to see the relic had totaled 407, 350 by Thursday afternoon. On Thursday 732 more buses carrying pilgrims from other regions of Russia arrived in Moscow.
The pilgrims might get inside any of 195 buses parked near the Christ the Savior cathedral to get warm, said a source from the operational headquarters established to ensure order while the relic remains in Moscow. A total of 103 food tents, including 16 field kitchens, 13 tea bars and around 70 retail mini shops were opened for the people in the queue.
A many as 490 volunteers help provide food to pilgrims and ensure order. The volunteers serve free buckwheat porridge, hot tea to the pilgrims and give them psychological assistance. Twenty-three ambulance brigades are on standby near the cathedral where the relic is. On November 19 a total of 750 pilgrims asked for medical assistance; most of them have chronic diseases. Seventy-six have been hospitalized.
Meanwhile an attendant of the Christ the Savior cathedral told Itar-Tass by telephone that people arriving in cars with "VIP" license plates entitled to high-rank officials only are going inside the cathedral to worship the relic bypassing the queue. "But, there are few such people, and they do not tell on the pace at which the queue has been moving to the cathedral," the attendant said.
Onlookers said that by Thursday afternoon the queue to the Christ the Savior cathedral had been over 8. 5 kilometers long, starting from Vorobyovi Gori metro station. Instructions as to where the newcomers should join the queue were announced in the metro through loudspeakers on Thursday. The overall time the pilgrims, exposed to mild Moscow frost, remained in the queue pending contact with the relic was more than 24 hours.
The Belt of the Virgin Mary believed to promote fertility and good health was brought to Moscow from a Greek cathedral.