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MOSCOW, August 5 (Itar-Tass) - Over one million people have bowed to the Cross of St. Andrew the Apostle over the 23 days when the Christian shrine was staying in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus within the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia festivities, sources at the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation told Itar-Tass.
The shrine was visited in St. Petersburg, the Moscow Region’s towns of Odintsovo and Dmitrov, Moscow, Kiev and Minsk.
“The Cross of St. Andrew the Apostle delivery became the central event of the festivities devoted to the 1025th Baptism of Russia anniversary that had an interstate status and united fraternal nations of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus,” the sources said.
“The waiting time varied in different cities from 30 minutes to nine hours. When necessary, the churches were opened day and night to allow all those wishing to bow to the shrine,” the foundation’s representatives said, adding that policemen and servicemen had secured law and order. Volunteers gave drinking water. Ambulances were on permanent duty, the foundation’s representatives said.
The Cross of St. Andrew the First-Called left the cathedral in the Greek city of Patras for the first time. It was accompanied by the Greek clergy delegation led by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras.
On July 11, the Cross arrived in St. Petersburg. When the city was founded, St. Apostle Andrew was considered one of its patron saints. When Pyotr I started building the Peter and Paul Fortress, he placed a golden ark with the Apostle’s relics. The delivery of the Cross is timed to the 310th anniversary of the Russian Fleet and St. Petersburg.
Then the Cross travelled to Moscow, Kiev and Minsk where most Orthodox believers lived. The Cross’ delivery proved that the spiritual life of three peoples was based on the single source - the blessing given by St. Andrew the Apostle whose preaching reached the Kiev Mountains and the Baptism in 988.
Russian Railways jointly with the organizing committee for the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus prepared a special train to carry the hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches and the Cross of St. Andrew the Apostle to Kiev and then to Minsk.