Monday, May 14, 2007
RELICS GIVEN TO ORTHODOX CHURCH
KAZAN, Russia, May 13 - Are relations warming between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches after years of grave tensions?
Possibly, if the simple but extraordinary events which took place today in this city on the Volga River in the heart of Russia are any indication.
An aging Italian Roman Catholic noblewoman, her grey hair covered with a white veil, in a church packed with nearly 1,000 Russian Orthodox, today, in a simple but moving ceremony, handed over to the Russian Orthodox bishop of the city seven precious relics of saints -- including a tiny fragment of the robe of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Some women in attendance wept openly.
"I bring these relics as my gift to you, and to the people of Russia, as a sign of my respect and love for Russia and all her people," the Marquise Immacolata Solaro del Borgo, 77, a member of Rome's historically powerful Colonna family, said to Bishop Anastasi as she handed over the gift to him at 10 a.m. today in a packed church. "I hope the relics can enrich the new Marian sanctuary you are building around the icon of Our Lady of Kazan."
"We appreciate these gifts very much," Bishop Anastasi later told "Inside the Vatican." "We are grateful to Immacolata that she made this long and tiring journey to bring us these gifts personally. The city of Kazan will appreciate them forever."
Showing the seriousness with which today's gift of the relics was treated in Russia, the ceremony was broadcast live throughout the country on the main national television channel, NTV.
The ceremony took place in Kazan's Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul.
In the ceremony, the Marquise Immacolata (a "marquise" ranks above a countess and below a duchess) gave Bishop Anastasi a fragment of the robe of Mary and relics of six other saints: St. Basil the Great, St. Blaise, St. Nicholas, St. Daria, St. Natalia and St. Pancratius.
The relics were contained in a single reliquary made by a Neapolitan jeweler in 17th century, a small silver box in the center of which was the fragment of Our Lady’s robe surrounded by the six saints’ relics, with their names inscribed there in Latin.
The reliquary came to Marquise Immacolata from Princess Giovanna Barberini, the widow of Prince Augusto Barberini, whose relatives included many cardinals and Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644).
The head of the internal affairs and tourism committee of the Kazan City Council, Vladimir Leonov, said that Marquisde Immacolata is an old friend of the Russian Orthodox Church.
At the website there are pictures of the ceremony transferring the relics. Very impressive.
In the message of Fatima we were told that in the end the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin would triumph. Can we see in this event and in Cardinal O'Malley's pilgrimmage to Lourdes a hint of the beginning of that triumph?