The Belt of Our Blessed Virgin Mary has left Russia after 3 million people went to see it on its 15-city tour.
In Moscow, more than 800,000 people came to see the holy relic that was taken back to Mount Athos on Monday. A final prayer in Vnukovo airport was given by the Patriarch Kirill.
There was a farewell ceremony that started at 6:50 am and featured the patriarch Kirill, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Communications Minister Igor Shchegolev, head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and other representatives of federal and Moscow authorities.
The patriarch conducted a 15-minute service and thanked the Athos Monastery for bringing the relic to Russia and Moscow authorities for organizing for hundreds of thousands of people to see it.In the meantime, life in Central Moscow is returning to normal after days of street closures and traffic jams to make space for the thousands of pilgrims.
More than 100,000 people saw the belt on its last day in Russia. At least 40 percent of those who came to see the belt travelled from other Russian regions as well as Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, Echo Moskvy reported. More than 850 busses with pilgrims arrived in Moscow while the belt was on show.
The average time spent in the queue to see the belt was 10 hours, but on peak days the queues were 24-hours long and reached back to Vorobyovy Gory. Later, the belt was then mounted on an arc and people walked under it, to speed up the queuing.