Moscow, October 21, Interfax – Delegation of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation delivered a reliquary with one of the greatest Christian shrines – belt of the Mother of God from the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos to St. Petersburg
“One of the reasons why we asked the Vatopedi Monastery to bring the belt of the Mother of God to Russia is demographic situation in our country. We think this shrine will arouse interest to spiritual revival of our society, to family values,” head of St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation and head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin told journalists on Athos.
The shrine has left Greece for the first time in the history of its stay in the Vatopedi Monastery. About 20 Athos monks will accompany it in Russia.
Vatopedi Father Superior Archimandrite Yefrem said the monastery had earlier refused the request to bring the reliquary to other countries, for example to the USA, Romania. The exception was made for Russia.
After visiting St. Petersburg the shrine will be taken to other Russian cities. The last point is Moscow. The belt is to return to Athos on November 23.
For many years Vatopedi monks have done small belts, blessed them on the belt of the Mother of God and spread among the believers. As usual they take a bobbin with 300 meters of ribbon, which is blessed on the reliquary with a special prayer. Then the bobbin is handed over to the monks: they divide the fabric for meter and a half belts, twist them and put into plastic bags together with the text telling about the shrine and instructions how to pray and observe fast.
Orthodox believe that thanks to intercession of the Holy Virgin these belts help cure female infertility, bear and give birth to a healthy child. As the belt of the Mother of God is kept on Athos where women are not allowed, Russian women have a rare chance to kneel down before the shrine, pray for granting children, health to relatives and friends and prosperity to Russia.