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Nearly 500,000 Honor Romanian Saint


2002.10.15 AP:

Nearly 500,000 pilgrims honor Romanian saint

Tue Oct 15, 8:46 AM ET

BUCHAREST, Romania - About half a million believers gathered near an
Orthodox cathedral in northeastern Romania on Tuesday to honor an
11th-century saint venerated for her devotion to the poor.

Each year on Oct. 14, Orthodox believers assemble in Iasi, the site of a
silver box said to contain the bones of Saint Parascheva. This year, so
many believers came to kiss the box that representatives extended the
festivities for an extra day.

The saint's bones were removed from the cathedral Saturday and placed in
the cathedral's courtyard for pilgrims to view and kiss.

More than 50 priests and high-ranking church leaders led religious services
on Monday, said priest Nicolae Dascalu.

Over the past several days, he said, about 500,000 believers from Romania
and abroad traveled to the cathedral in Iasi, some 325 kilometers (200
miles) from the capital, braving cold and rain.

This year, the bones of Saint Cassian, also revered for protecting the
poor, were flown from France to Romania and deposited in the Iasi cathedral.

High-ranking priests from Moldova, Poland, Greece and France participated
in the service along with Romanian politicians.

To mark the celebrations, authorities in Iasi organized art and food fairs
as well as dance, music and sporting events. A center for abused mothers
and children was open.
Nearly 90 percent of Romanians belong to the Orthodox Church.


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