This is remarkable. People waited in line 12 hours to approach the relics of one of Christianity's favorite saints
(This is a republishing from July 2017)
Well, almost a million. 930,000 to be exact, according to Russian state news agency, RIA Novosti.
The saint's rib, on loan from its home in Bari, Italy, will remain in Moscow for another 3 weeks, before proceeding to St. Petersburg for two weeks, so the final total will be substantially higher.
St. Nicholas is one of the most beloved saints in both Orthodoxy and Catholicism.
This is the first time the saint's relics have left the town of Bari in 930 years.
The line to approach the rib extends for about 2 miles, and the typical wait time is 5 hours, with 20 - 40,000 people visiting the rib every day. On June 17, the wait time reached 12 hours.
Even Putin came to pray at the relics
The typical Russian practice of 'venerating' a relic or icon is to cross oneself and kiss the glass covering while praying.
The public enthusiasm for the relic underscores a massive increase in Christian piety and faith in Russia, a story almost completely ignored by the mainstream media.
The Russian Church has built 28,000 churches over the last 28 years, which is 1000 per year, or approximately 3 per day, a world record. Moscow alone has a program to build 200 churches in the coming years, which is far less than the 1000 churches destroyed during Communism, when the city's population was far smaller than it is today.