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Mount Athos Relic Arrives in Athens for Public Veneration

Church and state officials greet the Holy Belt of the Virgin Mary in Piraeus, Greece, November 5, 2022.
Metropolitan of Piraeus, Serafim, holds the Holy Belt of The Virgin Mary. Credit: Twitter / Giannis Plakiotakis @G_Plakiotakis

The Holy Belt of the Virgin Mary arrived from Mount Athos to the Athens port of Piraeus for public veneration on Saturday.

The relic, which will remain in Piraeus until November 13, was greeted by the Greek Navy and Minister of Shipping Ioannis Plakiotakis as a Head of State.

Pilgrims will be able to reverence the Holy Belt at the Church of Agios Nicolaos of Piraeus, which will be open 24 hours in order to accommodate the crowds.

This is the first time that the Holy Belt has left Mount Athos since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

History of the Holy Belt relic

Also known as the Holy Girdle or the Cincture of the Theotokos, the relic is believed to be the only one preserved from Virgin Mary’s earthly life.

A part of it, which had been captured during a Bulgarian invasion, is kept in the Vatopedi Monastery in Mount Athos, Northern Greece, since 1101, retrieved and offered by the King of Serbs Lazaro.

According to Orthodox tradition, at the time of her Dormition, the Virgin Mary was buried by the Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem.

Three days later, Thomas the Apostle, who had been delayed and unable to attend the funeral, arrived and asked to have one last look at the Theotokos – the Holy Mother of Christ.

When he and the other apostles arrived at Her Tomb, they found that the body was missing. According to some accounts, the Virgin Mary appeared at that time and gave her belt (cincture) to the Apostle Thomas.

The Deposition of the Holy Belt of Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 31, to commemorate the transfer of the relic from Jerusalem to the Church of Virgin Mary of Hakopratia, Constantinople, in the year 395.

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