The Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, southern Italy

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Transferring the relics from this church symbolises the thaw between Orthodox and Catholic Christians

For the primary time in practically 1,00zero years bone fragments of Saint Nicholas are being moved from their Italian resting place, to be worshipped in Russia.

The 4th-Century saint is likely one of the most revered figures within the Russian Orthodox Church. After his dying, Italian retailers introduced his physique from Myra, in modern-day Turkey, to Italy.

Some fragments of his ribs are saved in Bari, southern Italy. They’re being flown on a specifically chartered airplane to Moscow on Sunday.

“That is an unprecedented occasion,” mentioned Alexander Volkov, a consultant of the Moscow Patriarchate. “These relics have by no means earlier than left Italy.”

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Over the centuries St Nicholas turned generally known as Santa Claus or Father Christmas

The relics – on mortgage to Russia till late July – might be moved from Bari’s Basilica of St Nicholas to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. There they are going to be blessed by the top of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, in a ceremony on Sunday night.

Hundreds of Orthodox believers are anticipated to go to the relics. They can even be taken to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St Petersburg.

Such relics have an essential function within the Orthodox religion. In 2011, a part of what was believed to be the Virgin Mary’s belt went on show in Moscow. Church-goers had been content material to queue for as much as 24 hours – and the road snaked again for a number of miles subsequent to the Moskva River.

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There have been crowds in 2011 when a Christian relic was delivered to Moscow from Greece

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Cuba, Feb 2016: The assembly of Pope Francis (L) and Patriarch Kirill was a landmark in Church historical past

Permission to lend the bones of St Nicholas to Russia got here at an historic assembly between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, in Cuba in 2016.

It was the primary such assembly since their two branches of Christianity cut up practically 1,00zero years in the past.

The Moscow Patriarchate says Russian jewellers have created a particular “ark” to move the bone fragments to Moscow. They’ve lain undisturbed in Bari since 1087.

It’s not but recognized whether or not Russian President Vladimir Putin, a eager church-goer, will attend the ceremony. In 2011 he met the airplane carrying the belt of the Virgin Mary when it touched down in St Petersburg.

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In 2007 Russian President Vladimir Putin paid homage to the saint in Bari

Moscow authorities count on Russians from everywhere in the nation to go to the relics, and say they may present water to these standing within the queue.

Church buildings throughout Moscow will ring their bells at 18:00 (15:00 GMT) on Sunday to mark the relics’ arrival.

From 22 Could to 12 July the relics might be on present at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The relics might be in St Petersburg within the interval 13-28 July.


  • A favorite saint amongst Russians – hundreds of Russian church buildings are named after him
  • Patron saint of sailors, retailers, archers, repentant thieves, kids, brewers, pawnbrokers and college students
  • His behavior of bestowing items, usually in secret, led to him being immortalised as Santa Claus or Father Christmas
  • Preached in Asia Minor (now Turkey) and was initially buried in Myra
  • In 11th Century rival retailers from Venice and Bari raided his grave and took the bones again to Italy
  • A few of his stays had been additionally buried in Venice, the place they’re saved to at the present time.

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St Nicholas can also be revered by Catholics in Bari – as on this procession