When we took the American team into St.Petersburg for the day, I left the group to run an errand. When I returned, I met a procession coming towards me head-on down the Griboedova Canal.
I’m not an expert on Orthodox holidays, but I know the main ones, and I couldn’t figure out what could be happening on July 17th. I couldn’t let this opportunity go by, so I stood and watched the Orthodox believers, young and old, as they walked by and chanted prayers, holding icons and other various “holy” relics. They had caught a clearer moment during the rainy day to make their march, beginning and ending at the Church of the Savior on the Spilt Blood.
Sometimes Orthodoxy seems so foreign, irrelevent to my faith. Why do they march with icons? Why do they make the sign of the cross? What do they want to proclaim with these public demonstrations?
When I asked a vendor at the nearby souvenir market, she said that it was the anniversary of the assassination of the royal family. Indeed, Wednesday marked 90 years since that day, and the final remains have only recently been identified. The royal family was canonized in 2000, but perhaps the final identification helps to make their sainthood legitimate.
Sometimes I forget that I live in a famous city. It’s never dull!