7 January 2014, 03:53

In the small hours of Tuesday Orthodox Christians began to mark one of the most important religious holidays, Christmas.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia traditionally celebrated the main Christmas service in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the Christmas service in a new cathedral in Sochi built in the vicinity of the Olympic Park. This is the president’s second Christmas in Sochi. On 7 January 2013 he attended the service in the Trinity Monastery of St. George in a village outside Sochi.

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Christmas is the second most important religious holiday after Easter. Orthodox Christians mark it on 7 January.

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Along with Russian Christians, 7 January is Christmas Day for the Jerusalem Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, monasteries on Mount Athos and some Protestants who use the Julian calendar.

 

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The Gifts of Wise Men delivered to Moscow from Mount Athos will stay in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour between 7 and 13 January.

Gifts of Wise Men to newborn Jesus to be displayed in Moscow till Jan 13

One of the biggest Christian relics, the Gifts of the Wise Men to the newborn Jesus, have been delivered from Greece's Thessaloniki to Moscow on the eve of the Orthodox Christmas to be celebrated overnight to Tuesday.

The Gifts have left the Agiou Pavlou (St. Paul's) monastery on Mount Athos in Greece for the first time since the 15th century. The relics are accompanied by a delegation of the brethren led by Archimandrite Parfeny (Mourelatos), who has been living in Athos for more than 50 years. At the Vnukovo-3 airport, the delegation was welcomed by representatives from the Moscow city government, the Russian Orthodox Church, and heads of the Fund of Saint Basil the Great, who have organized the Gift's trip to Russia. The shrine with the Gifts of the Three Kings was taken to the building of the airport, where a public prayer was served.

The relics will be displayed at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, which will be open of believers daily from 08:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. till January 13. It is expected that at least 200,000 believers would be able to see and worship the relics in Moscow.

On January 14, the shrine with the Gifts of the Magi will be brought to St. Petersburg where it will be accessible for pilgrims at the Novodevichy nunnery till January 17. Later on, the Gifts of the Wise Men will be displayed at the Charity House in Minsk on January 18-24, and at the Kiev Pechersk Lavra in Kiev on January 25-30.

The gifts of the Wise Men of the East, gold, frankincense and myrrh, are kept in the monastery's sacristry. The gold is in 28 square and triangular plates bearing the finest ornament and measuring 5 by 7 centimeters. The frankincense and myrrh are in dark olive-like balls numbering 70.

The legend has it that shortly before her death, Virgin Mary gave these gifts to two righteous women. Later on, these relics were brought to Byzantium, and after the Turkish conquest in 1453, they were taken to Mount Athos by a Serb nun Mary.

Athos monks believe that the Gifts of The Three Kings have healing power, thus testifying to the Christ's coming to this world.

Read also:

Russia celebrates Christmas Eve

Christmas and New Year: stressful long holiday season?

Voice of Russia, TASS, RIA, Interfax

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