Moscow, August 31, 2016
The venerable right arm of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called is returning to the Moscow Theophany Cathedral in Elokhovo after a month-long visit to Crimea. The relics's visit to the peninsula coincided with Russian Naval Day, celebrated on July 31. For the first time in the history of the city of Simferopol, an Orthodox relic was part of a military parade. Under the auspices of the St. Andrew Foundation the holy apostle’s relics traveled to ten Crimean churches where tens of thousands of believers were able to venerate them. The solemn seeing-off of St. Andrew’s holy arm took place at one of the oldest Simferopol temples – the Church of the Three Holy Hierarchs, reports Tvkultura.ru.
The Church of the Three Holy Hierarchs in Simferopol is one of the ten Crimean churches where pilgrims were able to venerate the relic of St. Andrew the First-Called. During the month the relic visited different cities.
A festive prayer service was celebrated in the afternoon after which the reliquary with the relic departed for Moscow. The Holy Apostle Andrew who, according to Tradition preached in the Chersonese in the year 50 AD, is considered the patron-saint of seamen.
“We are closely linked with Crimea, our connection is spiritual, and the bringing of the relics of St. Andrew the First-Called to the lands where he preached – which were later called Rus’, or Russia – is seen as a significant milestone in our people’s spiritual strengthening,” President of St. Andrew Foundation Vladimir Bushuyev noted.
This relic – the right arm of Apostle Andrew – was kept in Constantinople in the twelfth century. In 1644, Patriarch Parthenius of Constantinople presented the holy arm to Russian tsar Mikhail Romanov. Thus the patriarch thanked the Russian tsar for paying a considerable ransom to the Turkish sultan which prevented the destruction of a monastery in Thessaloniki in what is now Greece. From that time on the arm was kept at the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin; in 1988 it was solemnly handed over to the Russian Orthodox Church and translated to the Theophany Cathedral in Elokhovo.
“This is a whole hand and arm up to the elbow, and it is 2000 years old! That is why its transportation is dangerous every time,” Archpriest Boris Obrembalsky from the Moscow Theophany Cathedral pointed out.
Fr. Boris accompanies the relic in their journeys across the globe. According to him, the relic leaves the cathedral very rarely as there is a risk of damage. The silver shrine in which the relic is kept is over 200 years old. Formerly, clergymen pressed the shrine against their chest during the transportation of the relics. And now, as it is light and fragile, the arm is usually housed in a heavy twelve-kilo reliquary. Thus, the arm of St. Andrew the Apostle leaves the Theophany Cathedral only on rare occasions.