Moscow displays Mother of God sash/belt from Mount Athos.

If you’re were wondering about all that extra traffic over the past couple of days, be thankful that it wasn’t holiday New Year gift shoppers camping out for some Xbox sale.

The same event which filled St Petersburg’s sidewalks with “foot traffic jams” in late October did the same to Moscow. It’s gone now–you are free again to walk around the city centre. The display was beautiful but the lines were long and Moscow police estimated wait times at 24 hours given the length of sidewalk lines which snarled motor traffic in central Moscow as well and created extraordinary parking problems for motorists.

Scenes of St Petersburg:

This autumn Orthodox monks flew in what is thought to be the original cloth belt from the Virgin Mary. Normally kept on Mount Athos, there has been great interest all over Russia while the belt was on loan for a limited time.

(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Father Gennady/LiveJournal)
(photo by Father Gennady/LiveJournal)

The Russian schedule has taken the display to these cities:
Санкт-Петербурге – Saint Petersburg
Екатеринбурге – Yekaterinburg
Норильске – Norilsk
Владивостоке – Vladivostok
Красноярске – Krasnoyarsk
Дивееве – Diveevo
Саранске – Saransk
Самаре – Samara
Ростове-на-Дону – Rostov (on the Don)
Калининграде – Kaliningrad
Москве – Moscow

…and caused lots of foot traffic wherever it went.

(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)
(photo by Kuzma Prutkoff)

The Moscow exhibition was at the national Cathedral of Christ the Saviour for 5 days and according to the Moscow Times newspaper, “the line of people to enter the golden-domed Christ the Savior Cathedral stretched four metro stations, from Kropotkinskaya to Vorobyovy Gory, despite subzero temperatures.

Some, however, enjoyed fast-track access to the relic: People arriving in cars with license plates of the type reserved for senior officials were let in without waiting in the line, Itar-Tass reported, citing a priest at the cathedral.

Police officers announced through megaphones that it will take worshippers 24 hours to get to the relic. Some 80 people a minute — three to four abreast — were passing under the relic, mounted on a 2-meter arch in the temple.

Hundreds of buses brought pilgrims from other Russian cities. Almost 200 buses were parked along the line with their engines running so the faithful could get warm as they waited. The city provided free tea and food and put up portable toilets.

Some 1,500 police officers were deployed to handle the traffic.

The Saint Andrews Foundation, responsible for bringing the relic to Russia said that 14 million Russians have viewed the display since late October. Moscow police estimated the number in line at 82,000 last Thursday, just one day of the 5 day event.