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VOLGOGRAD, February 04, (ITAR-TASS). The Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in the southern Russian city of Volgograd will be open all night for pilgrims to worship the Gifts of the Magi - a Christian relic taken out of Greece for the first time since the 15th century, the cathedral’s senior priest, Father Vyacheslav Zhebelev, said.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Biblical Magi, or Wise Men, were led by the Star of Bethlehem to the place where the baby Jesus was born. They brought Christ gold, which was a gift to kings, frankincense, a sign of veneration, and myrrh, used to anoint the deceased, thus venerating Jesus as King, God and Man.
Earlier, it was reported that the Volgograd cathedral would be open for believers to venerate the Gifts until midnight on Monday, then would be closed for the night and then reopened at 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
“Over an hour, more than 2,000 believers kiss the relic. Despite a great number of people, everything is going rather calmly and in a well organized way,” Father Vyacheslav told Itar-Tass on Monday.
The relic was brought to Volgograd on Monday. The event is important for the city, where two suicide bombings killed 34 people and injured more than 70 others in attacks on a railway terminal and a trolleybus on December 29 and 30, 2013.
“Some 1,500 police officers are on duty near the church. No public order violations have been registered,” Col. Svetlana Smolyaninova, the head of the regional Interior Ministry department, said. She added that security measures were being taken and that traffic was restricted around the cathedral.
Earlier Monday, it was reported that emergencies services opened warming centers and feeding stations for pilgrims coming to the cathedral, and organized additional streetcar routes. Rescuers, firefighters, medics and psychologists are on duty at the site.
Several tens of thousands of residents of Volgograd and neighboring regions are expected to come to venerate the Gifts, which will be open for visitors until the end of Tuesday.
The Gifts, kept in the Agiou Pavlou (St. Paul’s) monastery on Mount Athos in Greece since the 15th century, were displayed in Russia on January 7-17, then traveled to Belarus, and were later taken to Ukraine for display in the world-famous Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, or Monastery of the Caves, in Kiev. Over 1.5 million of pilgrims have worshipped the relic in the three countries.
The box with the relic has part of the original Gifts: three gold plates with a thin filigree ornament with beads from a mix of frankincense and myrrh attached to it on a silver thread.