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Iași is hosting the pilgrimage devoted to Saint Paraskeva, the patron saint of Moldavia
Every religion in the world has its pilgrimages. When it comes to Christianity, there are famous sites such as Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes or Mount Athos that are iconic for the Christian world. In Romania, where Orthodoxy is the religion of the majority population, every year the month of October plays host to the largest pilgrimage held in Iași, northern Romania. A phenomenon with huge religious and social underpinnings, the pilgrimage at the reliquary of Saint Paraskeva of the Balkans is usually attended by hundreds of thousands of people. This year, after a two year break when they were denied the joy of taking part in the pilgrimage, people return to Iași for what they hope to be the restoration of a tradition prior to the COVID pandemic, which makes for a much greater joy for Orthodox Christians.
In the Christian Orthodox church, the typical pilgrimage in Iași consists in faithful flocking to the reliquary of Saint Paraskeva, queing up for hours and days to touch the reliquary and join in communion for this special occasion. Pilgrims are usually men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, mostly from Romania but also from abroad. From the idyllic image of a pilgrimage in a faraway hamelt to the modern pilgrimage in urban areas, those who take part in such events have a diversity of backgrounds. Some commentators say pilgrimages are post-modern anachronisms. Researchers claim pilgrims have always been stigmatized, although the phenomenon is not present in Romania today. Worth noting is that pilgrimages involving large numbers of people queing up for hours in wait before touching relics of saints is a relatively recent practice in the Romanian Orthodox Church. The first such pilgrimages emerged in the late 1990s, when after the fall of communism people felt the need to come up with something to breathe new meaning into their lives. Pilgrimages were the successful answer to their question.
The pilgriamge in Iași, which is expected to end after October 14, will be followed by other pilgriamges in Bucharest, Cernica, Nicula and Curtea de Argeș. (VP)
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