A woman died after queuing for long hours to pray at the relics.
This year too, the feast of Saint Parascheva gathered tens of thousands of believers in Iasi, along with politicians who came to do electoral campaign before the masses. According to gendarmes, almost 100,000 believers had prayed until yesterday at the coffin containing the relics of Saint Parascheva and Saint Simeon, after waiting in a 3-km long queue. According to sources with the Gendarmerie, the waiting time to get near the relics was nearly 20 hours. Over 250,000 people from the whole country were expected to attend the Iasi pilgrimage.
The day had its share of incidents, as a 61 year old woman suffering from heart problems died as she was waiting in the long line. According to preliminary data, she apparently entered the queue on Thursday night and at some moment she fainted because of fatigue and lack of food. Gendarmerie officials say that over 500 people needed medical aid since the beginning of the pilgrimage, as they had health problems while queuing to reach the relics.
“A total number of 530 medical incidents were reported. Some people waited for over 10 hours in line and had medical problems, against the background of exhaustion and improper food. Many of them received aid at a first-aid facility in the area of the Metropolitan Cathedral, but others were transported to hospital for additional care,” Gendarmerie spokesman Marius Taranu informed, quoted by Mediafax.
The coffin with the relics of Saint Parascheva and Saint Spiridon was carried by priests, Friday evening, through the streets of Iasi, on a distance of several km. Saint Parascheva is considered as the protector of Moldavia and its feast, on October 14, turns Iasi into the site of Romania’s biggest pilgrimage.
PM Ponta, expected for the mass
The most important moment of the Iasi pilgrimage will take place today, when the Saint Liturgy is scheduled to take place. The mass will be performed in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral, in the ‘Stefan cel Mare’ square, rather than in the churchyard, like in the past years. High-profile politicians are expected to attend the celebration, including PM Victor Ponta and deputy premiers Liviu Dragnea and Daniel Chitoiu, Iasi mayor Gheorghe Nichita announced. The mayor added that he also sent invitations to President Traian Basescu and Senate speaker Crin Antonescu, but they have not answered so far.
Other PSD leaders preceded the prime minister over the weekend. The Minister of Environment, Rovana Plumb attended Saturday, at the Social Aid Canteen of Iasi, the cooking of the food (‘sarmale’) that will be offered to pilgrims today, after the liturgy. In his turn, deputy PM Liviu Dragnea could be seen in Iasi Friday evening, saying that he prayed by the relics for those who “thought bad” with regard to the file in which he was formally charged by the DNA (which refers to the rigging of the 2012 referendum). Later, he participated in a religious procession through the streets of the city.
The leader of PNL Iasi, Relu Fenechiu, who was sentenced in July to 5 years of prison in the ‘Power transformer’ case, said that he will not be present on stage during the Saint Liturgy celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral. “I personally avoided, of late, standing on this type of stages. I said that I prefer going to church alone or with my family, not as part of official delegations,” Fenechiu explained.