Russia will give a statue of Saint Nicholas Wonder-Worker as a gift to the city of Bari in Italy.
Georgy Poltavchenko, the Russian president's plenipotentiary in the central federal district, is expected to participate in the official ceremony, due on May 8th, the Russian Academy of Visual Arts said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a message of greetings to residents of Bari. "A monument to the miracle-worker is being given as a gift to your city, which keeps a great Christian object of worship -- the relics of the bishop of Myra, in Lycia," the message reads. The Russian head of state stressed that St. Nicholas was among the most venerated saints and enjoyed special esteem in Russia. "Let this gift be an evidence of the Russians rendering honour to the saint and of the undeviating desire of the peoples of our countries to consolidate peace and co-operation," the message goes on to say.
The statue was made by Zurab Tsereteli in honour of St. Nicholas, one of the most venerated Christian saints, the protector of sailors and travellers, land-owners, scholars, the unduly condemned. It is known that in the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine reigned, he was the archbishop of Myra, a city in Asia Minor (the territory of modern Turkey). The saint is the embodiment of mercy and humanity. Numerous legends tell of his ability to work wonders.
In 1087, the relics of St. Nicholas were moved from Myra in Lycia to Bari, where they rest in a majestic basilica on St. Nicholas square. The bronze statue of St. Nicholas will be erected on the square. The figure is 2.7-meter high and the pedestal 1-meter high. The inscription on the pedestal is in two languages, Russian and Italian.