Tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians have joined a service outside Moscow’s main church, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, in defense of their faith, sacred objects and the Church itself, following recent numerous attacks on Christian relics.
The Sunday service has gathered around 65 thousand worshippers, according to official police data. It comes in response to what the church says is a series disrespectful acts against Orthodoxy and religious faith over the past few months.
Sacred Orthodox objects attacked this spring were specially brought to the Cathedral for one day.
Among the relics is a 3.5-metre-tall crucifix cut by an attacker in the cathedral of the city of Nevinnomyssk in Russia’s south. There are also five of the 30 icons cut with an ax in the town of Veliky Ustyug in March. And the Virgin Mary icon, shot with bullets in the early 1920s, was also brought from the same city.
Worshippers also denounce other cases of vandalism – in March, the Cathedral of St. Sergius of Radonezh in the city of Mozyr was desecrated with blasphemous inscriptions and sacrilege against the representationof the cross. In April, offenders poured gasoline and set fire to the entrance door to the Cathedral of Demetrius of Thessalonica in Krasnodar. In the Rostov Region, on the eve of Easter, vandals smeared black paint on the walls of a chapel built in memory of those who died in the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, as well as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.
In February, the activists of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot broke into Moscow’s main cathedral and sang blasphemous songs at the altar.
Earlier on Sunday, Patriarch Kirill led a liturgy service and then the worshippers went around the Cathedral in a religious procession. Similar services are being held in other Russian regional centers.
On Saturday, Moscow drivers and bikers had their say in support of the Church. They held a rally denouncing the recent attacks on cathedrals, as well as media criticism of the Patriarch.