Three Russian Orthodox priests have sprinkled 70 liters of holy water over the city of Tver from a sports plane to quell the extreme alcohol consumption there. They took the holy water with them in plastic bottles, after which it sprinkled out of the open hatch from a golden chalice and with the necessary blessings.
The clerics from Tver (about 165 kilometers northwest of Moscow) have been trying to limit the drinking problems in the city in this way since 2013. However, the “healing rain” does not help. Every year, thousands of people throughout Russia die from excessive alcohol consumption. This year, the total number of deaths is already around 4,300: an increase of 17% compared to last year.
And in Tver, too, the problems persist, but the priests continue. According to the enthusiastic clergy, the drops of holy water can help the inhabitants to stay sober and make sure that they don’t reach for the bottle anymore. They do it once a year on the so-called Russian ‘Day of Sobriety’.
During their air procession, Priest Alexander Goryachev and two other clergymen brought not only holy water but also two precious icons: a portrait of John the Baptist and an image of what is called the ‘Inexhaustible Chalice’.
The latter is claimed to cure people who suffer from alcoholism or who suffer from other addictions, such as drugs or extramarital sex outside the door. To reinforce the action, on the plane a couple also claiming that the couple’s husband was miraculously cured of his excessive drinking by the ‘holy chalice’. “Without the water, I wouldn’t have made it,” says the now austere husband.
According to priest Alexander Goryachev, a pre-calculated ideal amount of holy water of exactly 70 liters had been chosen. “If alcoholism persists in the city, we can always scale up and pour a little more down next year,” he told the Russian media during the flight. “Especially for the heavier cases.”
Goryachev also gave a profound explanation for the special procession. “Every disease comes from a virus, and a virus is a devil. Therefore, every disease is first and foremost a spiritual disease.” Everyone does not appreciate religious aid. There is also a lot of laughter about it here and there.
The priests find negative reactions absurd. “There’s nothing funny about it,” says Goryachev. “From an average altitude of 300 meters, we only cure a disease. Let everyone laugh! We’re just doing our job. And every little bit helps.”