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ST PETERSBURG, January 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Over 21,000 believers will be able to worship the Gifts of the Magi (also known as Wise Men Gifts or Gifts of the Three Kings) in St Petersburg on the first day of the relics’ stay, sources at the staff, which was specially set up to organize the event, told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
“Yesterday the staff decided to work until the last pilgrim worshiped the relics. But we don’t intend to work day-and-night,” the sources said, adding that the infrastructure, which had been created for believers (food, buses etc), worked around the clock.
The organisers do not rule out that depending on the number of those who wish to worship the relics a decision will be taken to get day-and-night access to the Wise Men Gifts.
Later, the Gifts of the Wise Men will be displayed at the Charity House in Minsk on January 18-24 and at the Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev on January 25-30.
The Gifts have left the Agiou Pavlou (St. Paul’s) monastery on Mount Athos in Greece for the first time since the 15th century. The relics are accompanied by a delegation of the brethren led by Archimandrite Parfeny (Mourelatos), who has been living in Athos for more than 50 years.
The Gifts of the Wise Men of the East, gold, frankincense and myrrh, are kept in the monastery's sacristy. The gold is in 28 square and triangular plates bearing the finest ornament and measuring 5 by 7 centimetres. The frankincense and myrrh are in dark olive-like balls numbering 70.
The legend has it that shortly before her death, Virgin Mary gave these gifts to two righteous women. Later the relics were brought to Byzantium, and after the Turkish conquest in 1453, they were taken to Mount Athos by a Serb nun Mary.