Women Flock to See Virgin’s Belt in Hopes of Conceiving
Orthodox disciples believe that the belt helps women to conceive children.
Published: October 26, 2011 (Issue # 1680)
More than 300,000 of St. Petersburg’s faithful came to see the Belt of the Virgin Mary, an Orthodox relic that arrived in Russia for the first time from Greece last week, RIA Novosti reported.
St. Petersburg became the first Russian city to host the relic, brought from the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. After being kept at the city’s Novodevichy Monastery for four days, the relic was taken to Yekaterinburg.
People waited in long lines to see the relic, access to which was open for 24 hours. Women with small children were let in without standing in line, and a street vendor opened Saturday outside the monastery to keep the masses of believers nourished.
However, the St. Petersburg eparchy later expressed hope that the next time a relic arrives in the city, the organizers will be better prepared, RIA Novosti reported.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was visiting the city on Oct. 20, the day the relic arrived, greeted the belt at Pulkovo Airport (see photo, page 1).
This is the first time the relic has left Greece since it was moved to the Vatopedi monastery. Twenty monks from Athos accompanied it to Russia, Interfax reported.
The belt is normally taken to a Greek city once a year at the request of believers. The monastery refused earlier requests from other countries, including the U.S. and Romania, but an exception was made for Russia, Interfax reported.
The relic will stay in Russia until Nov. 23, and will be taken to 12 cities including Moscow, Norilsk, Vladivostok, Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Diveyevo, Saransk, Samara, Rostov-on-Don and Kaliningrad.
According to legend, the belt and robe of the Virgin Mary were given to two widows in Jerusalem not long before her death. It was subsequently kept in Palestine for many years. In about 408 AD, the belt was brought to Constantinople and placed in a church.
Orthodox disciples believe that the belt possesses great strength and helps women to conceive children.