Bones of ancient saint cause stir among believers in Greece
by Stelyo Berberakis
May 17, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Stelyo Berberakis
May 17, 2015 12:00 am
The silver box which contains the bones of Barbara who was declared as saint after she was beheaded by her father in 3 A.D., was presented by Venice Catholic Church to the Orthodox Church in Athens. The box was welcomed with a state ceremony last week.Placed on a gun carriage, the silver box was taken to the Church of Agia Varvara in the district of Ageleo accompanied by honor guards and the military band of Greece's armed forces.
Barbara was punished by her father, the pagan fanatic, by cutting off her head as she accepted Christianity during the reign of the Roman Empire. She was later declared a martyr and saint by the church and her bones were placed in a silver box. The box was preserved in the Orthodox churches in Istanbul, the capital city of the Byzantine Empire, until 1003 A.D. However, it was stolen by the Venetian soldiers and smuggled to the Catholic church in Venice. Hence, the silver box which is regarded among silver holy relics was brought to Athens for 15 days upon the request of the Pontiff of Athens İeronimos.
The number of visitors to the Church of Agia Varvara which is dedicated to the Saint Barbara exceeded 300,000 in three days. Moreover, the box also was taken to the Aghios Savvas hospital for cancer patients on May 14. Thousands of people visited the hospital to see the silver box or pray for a quick recovery from their illnesses for themselves or their relatives. Among the visitors, it was possible to see cancer patients, doctors and nurses. This incident caused eyebrows to raise among many doctors. They said that such holy relics belong in churches while hospitals, which need financial help instead of holy relics, are the places for doctors. Radical left wing SYRİZA government's group president Nikos Filis was also criticized by both the religious community as well as the Pontiff of Athens as he likened the event to the "Medieval Ages."