St. Nicholas is especially loved and revered in Russia. In Moscow alone there are +200 churches dedicated to the saint. . .
Last night, unknown persons robbed the Basilica of St. Nicholas in the Italian city of Bari, where the relics of the saint are kept, transferred to the Apennines in 1087, RIA Novosti reports.
According to the Bari police, the intruders entered the temple at about 4 a.m. and stole valuables from the famous statue of St. Nicholas. In particular, a silver cross decorated with precious stones, a gold ring that was worn on the finger of the statue of the saint, a liturgical book, as well as other offerings and donations to Nicholas the Wonderworker were stolen.
"The news of the theft of some of the holy items from the statue of St. Nicholas in the basilica leads me into confusion. This is not only blasphemous, but also an extremely insulting act against the entire community of believers of the city of Bari, which has built most of its identity around the message of its patron saint," Bari Mayor Antonio Decaro said in connection with the crime.
According to the mayor, the theft of symbolic items related to Nikolai Mirlikiysky "inflicted a deep wound on the city." Decaro expressed hope that the attackers would return the stolen holy items to the representatives of the Dominican Order, which in 1951 was entrusted with the basilica by Pope Pius XII.
The Italian State Police are investigating.
The relics of St. Nicholas, kept in the basilica, are especially revered by the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church, many of them annually made a pilgrimage to Bari. Since 1969, Orthodox Christians have been granted the right to serve regularly in the crypt of the basilica. Once a week, a divine service is held in the church "according to the Byzantine-Russian rite", during which everyone can venerate the relics of St. St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.
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