On Thursday the Russian Orthodox Church reveres the memory of St. Basil, a Moscow miracle man who died on August 15th, 1557. He is widely known as Vasily Blazhenny.
At 9:30 on Thursday morning Patriach Alexyi II of Moscow and All Russia served a liturgy in the church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin in Red Square known as St. Basil's Cathedral.
The cathedral was added to the "St. Trinity church on the ditch" in commemoration of the victory over the Kazan khannate. In 1555-1561 architects Barma and Posnik added the new cathedral to the old building.
St. Basil was buried near St. Trinity church, and in 1588 a church was built over the grave of St. Basil, who was widely known as "God's fool", giving the cathedral its second name. To this day the relics of the saint rest in that place.
According to a church legend, Vasily Blazhenny was born in December 1468 on the parvis of the Yelokhovsky church built in honour of the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir near Moscow. His parents sent him as an apprentice to a shoemaker.
One day a merchant came to the workshop where Vasily was learning the shoe-maker's trade and ordered boots that he would not be able to wear out within a year. In reply Vasily said with tears in his eyes: "We shall make you boots which you will never wear out." The apprentice explained to the bewildered master that the client would never wear the boots, because he would die soon. In a few days' time his prophesy came true.
At the age of 16 Vasily came to Moscow and devoted his life to the difficult feat of being a fool for Christ's sake which meant that in any weather, whether frost or heat, he walked through the streets of Moscow barefooted and practically naked exposing liers, carrying out deeds that looked strange to the people around him -- he would overturn a hawker's tray with bread or a jug with kvass, for which he was never beaten to the surprise of others. Later on it turned out that the bread was badly made and the kvass was sour.
The story how God's fool Vasily reproached tsar Ivan the Terrible himself for thinking about the construction of his palace during a service in church has become a legend.
St. Vasily made many miracles. Preaching mercy, he helped those who were too embarrassed to ask for alms. During his lifetime he was widely known as a prophet. In 1547 he predicted the great fire of Moscow. By his prayers he extinguished a fire in Novgorod.
Vasily Blazhenny was canonized by the Church Assembly on August 15th, 1588.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969