Display of the Belt of the Virgin Mary
The belt of the Virgin Mary is also known as the Cincture of the Theotokos [Blessed Virgin Mary].
This relic of the Virgin Mary is said to have been hand made by Mary herself from Camel Hair, although later it was interlaced with a gold thread by the wife of Emperor Leo V1.
It is said that on her death Mary was buried by the Apostles in Jerusalem, when Thomas who was unable to attend the funeral did arrive three days later, he asked to see the body. When the tomb was opened there was no body. It is said that Mary then appeared to Thomas and gave him the belt. It has been held in great esteem by the Orthodox Church ever since.
The belt was kept in Jerusalem until the 5th century when it was transferred to Constantinople. Then in the 14th century it was transferred to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Vateopedi on Mount Athos. By this time it had been cut into three pieces and placed in a silver reliquary.
It remained in the monastery on MT. Athos until this year.
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Since the 1990’s there has been a large revival of the Orthodox Church in Russia.
In the fall of 2011, the reliquary containing the belt was dispatched on a viewing around Russia.
Its first stop was in St. Petersburg where a 2km line was formed by the 200,000 visitors. One of the first to visit the relic was Vladimir Putin.
The next stop was the city of Yekaterinburg where a total of 150,000 people visited the relic, including the regional Governor.
Next was the city of Norilsk, where 50,000 or one quarter of the population saw the belt.
It then went to Vladivostok before continuing onto Moscow.
In Moscow, its stay has been extended by three days to allow the estimated half million visitors a chance to see the relic. The queues extended through four metro stops, an estimated 5km line.
The belt is said to have the power to help women’s fertility and cure illnesses.
For so many people to see the belt is a rarity as since arriving at Mt. Athos it is rarely moved. Whilst at Mt. Athos the Monastery has strict visitation rules, which includes a rule only allowing male visitors.
This truly is a rare treat for the Russian people, especially the women and a deserved repayment for returning back to the faith, after having been forced to leave it by the Soviet regime.
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