“Grab the axes!” a man shouts, in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral from Iași.
“Who should grab the axes, sir?” a reporter asks the man.
“The people!”, he answers. “So that we can get get to the Saint.”
It’s the 14th of October, religious holiday for the orthodox – Saint Parascheva’s day, whom is said to work healing miracles on the day.
«The Saint», as people call her, is dressed in a garment sewed by nuns and lies in a glass scrape with a circle cut in it, where her hands are placed.
Thousand of believers all around the country are coming every year to Iași, for the Parascheva Pilgrimage, to touch the scrape – with their hands, with objects, their foreheads and lips.
This year, because of the covid-19 pandemic, the Romanian National Comittee for Emergencies (CNSU) decided that only the citizens of Iași will be allowed to enter the Metropolitan Cathedral’s premises, where the Saint lies.
Since the 8th of October, when the pilgrimage started, gendarmes were placed at the entrances of the Cathedral’s courtyard, to check the IDs of everyone wanting to come in. Those who had the address of residence in Iași were able to walk in, and those who didn’t, were turned away.
Lots of people rioted, shouted at the gates, at the gendarmes, protested against wearing masks, and were violent towards the press. A group assaulted a reporter – they pushed him, yelled at him, took his microphone and banished him from the crowd. Most part of the people weren’t wearing masks or physically distancing from eachother.
The pressure and the violent rage of the protesters lead to the Gendarmerie taking the decision to let all those who came to the pilgrimage see and touch Parascheva.
The pilgrims walked the labyrinth made by the Gendarmerie’s fences around the Cathedral for approximately three hours/a person. They were urged, by the volunteers, to wear masks, use disinfectant and commit to physical distancing.
At the scrape, just as in any other year has happened, the pilgrims touched Parascheva’s relics and kissed them.
“Give it a little kiss”, a priest tells a 3-4 years old girl, whom he raises in his arms, so that she can kiss the Saint.
After a few seconds, a man and a woman also kiss her. Then, other pilgrims.
“The Mobile Group of Gendarmes from Bacău, which is responsible for the identification of the pilgrims, mentioned at the end of the day that they let everyone in to avoid other conflicts”, the station ProTV writes.
In the evening of the 14th, the access to the scrape was restricted again.
Since the 8th of October, over 25.000 pilgrims visited the scrape with the holy relics.