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More than two-thirds of Russians seek to venerate St Nicholas’s relics

May 27, 6:40 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The requests people would like to address to St Nicholas the Wonderworker concern personal health, assistance in the rectification of personal problems and maintenance of peace

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, May 27. /TASS/. Arrival of the relics of St Nicholas from the Italian city of Bari to Russia has become a considerable event for the Russians and 72% of them would like to venerate the shrine, as follows from the results of an opinion poll taken by the All-Russia Center for Public Opinion Research (VCIOM).

The center published the report at its homepage on Saturday.

"More than two-thirds of those polled (72%) expressed the desire to come and venerate St Nicholas’s relics, and in some groups the share of people willing to do so exceeded 80% - 81% among women, 82% among the people 60 years or older, 87% among disciples of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The requests people would like to address to St Nicholas the Wonderworker concern personal health, assistance in the rectification of personal problems and maintenance of peace.

The poll also showed the absolute majority of respondents, 81%, were aware of the arrival of St. Nicholas’s relics from Bari.

"On the whole, the precedents of delivery of shrines and holy relics from other countries for veneration by Russian believers are met with approval and understanding," the report said. "As many as 83% Russians support initiatives of this kind," VCIOM said.

Supporters of this practice indicate, for instance, that the relics of saints thus become more accessible for the Russians who cannot go abroad for one or another reason, while opponents insist that relics should not be bothered by taking them from one place to another.

"In this case we can speak about an event of huge significance for the Russian Orthodox people and for the entire Russian Society," said Mikhail Mamonov, the chief of VCIOM’s department for political analysis and consulting.

"Interest and respectful attitude show the degree to which the Russians self-identify themselves with the Church and, on top of that, how they seek to unite around values," he went on. "Quite obviously, this event (delivery of the relics from Bari) will certainly become one of the central events this year."

VCIOM polled 1,200 people by telephone on May 23 and May 24.

St Nicholas’s relics - the 9th left rib retrieved from the crypt in the basilica in Bari in the course of a special effort involving forensic experts’ assistance - will stay in the Cathedral of the Savior through to July 14, after which they will be transported to St Petersburg.

The sojourn of the shrine in St Petersburg will last through to July 28, after which it will return to Bari.

More than 1,000 servicemen of the Russian Guard are engaged in the operation to ensure security of the relics and to guard law and order on the compound of the cathedral and around it.

Russian Guard officials said earlier security measures would be tightened during the stay of the relics in Russia but this tightening would not pose any problems for the believers.

The Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I and Pope of Rome Francis I reached agreement on the delivery of St Nicholas’s relics to Russia during their historic meeting in Havana on February 12, 2016.

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