Some 60,000 Romanian pilgrims gathered on Wednesday near a cathedral in the northeastern city of Iasi at the beginning of a five-day festival to honor an 11th-century saint venerated for her devotion to the poor.
Thousands of Christian Orthodox believers gather every year in Iasi, where a silver box said to contain the bones of Saint Parascheva was removed from the cathedral on Wednesday and placed in the courtyard for pilgrims to view and kiss.
Oct. 14 is the main day when the saint is celebrated. Clerics from neighboring Moldova and Greece are expected to arrive in Iasi later in the week. Nearly 90 percent of Romanians are Christian Orthodox.
Parascheva was known for feeding and clothing the poor and offering shelter to the homeless. Many people in Romania, where the average monthly salary is 7.3 million lei (euro209, US$259) after taxes, feel the need to pray to her.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia