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MOSCOW, January 07, /ITAR-TASS/. About 14,000 people are standing in a queue around Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral to worship one of the biggest Christian relics, the Gifts of the Wise Men to the newborn Jesus, which were delivered from Greece’s Mount Athos to Moscow late on Monday, on the Orthodox Christmas Eve, spokeswoman for the organizing committee Maria Korovina told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
“According to our data, the queue has spread along the Prechistenskaya Embankment to the Krymsky Bridge,” she said. “There are about 14,000 people in the queue, who will have to spend from four to five hours to get inside the cathedral.”
“We would like to remind that the cathedral closes at 22:00 Moscow time, so people who plan to visit it should better postpone their visit till tomorrow,” Korovina said.
The Gifts of the Three Kings will be displayed at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral till January 13.
On January 14, the shrine with the Gifts of the Magi will be brought to St. Petersburg where it will be accessible for pilgrims at the Novodevichy nunnery till January 17. Later on, 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 sacristry. The gold is in 28 square and triangular plates bearing the finest ornament and measuring 5 by 7 centimeters. 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 on, these relics were brought to Byzantium, and after the Turkish conquest in 1453, they were taken to Mount Athos by a Serb nun Mary.
Athos monks believe that the Gifts of The Three Kings have healing power, thus testifying to the Christ's coming to this world.