A man holding his child so she can kiss the relics of Saint Demetrios. All photos by Eli Driu.
This article originally appeared on VICE Romania
From the 26th to the 28th of October 2017, thousands of people gathered in the Romanian capital of Bucharest and waited for hours for a chance to touch the relics of Saint Demetrios and also some holy artefacts which were brought to Romania by the visiting Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill – the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Patriarch is one of the staunchest supporters of Vladimir Putin, whose regime he has called "a miracle of God". The Russian government, in its turn, reciprocates the love by having granted the Orthodox Church millions in funding over the past few years.
Like in Russia, the majority of the Romanian population
are Orthodox Christians
– despite the clergy's
ties to the former authoritarian communist regime
. The Church has enormous political and economical influence, which has mostly been used in recent years to
a deeply conservative and homophobic agenda.
Romanian photographer Eli Driu was in Bucharest during Patriarch Kirill's visit, and documented the great lengths pilgrims went to, to get close to him and the other relics.
Scroll down for more photos.
Patriarch Kirill (left) holding a service next to the Romanian Patriarch, Daniel (right).
Worshippers waiting to receive holy water in their official bottles, sold by the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Pilgrims often bring food and clothes to hold close to the relics, in order to have it blessed.
A priest emptying a barrel of holy water.
A procession of Romanian nuns.
The Russian religious leader surrounded by his own bodyguards.
A woman touching a holy relic.
A cyclist passing a parade of priests.
Romanian Orthodox priests carrying religious banners.
Some people needed medical attention after queuing for hours to kiss the relics.
A riot policeman keeping the queue of pilgrims in check.
Though most of the people attending the gathering were older – there were younger people too. Most of them were students of one of Romania's many priest schools.
Pilgrims believe in the healing power of the relics.
Students from a religious school for girls.
Priests carrying the relics while blessing the way with incense.
A street vendor selling religious merch.
A pilgrim whose medical condition worsened after having to stand in a queue for hours.
Relatives of those waiting come by bringing food and water.
Vendors selling flowers to leave near the relics.