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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Holy hand relic returns to Russia
Muscovites view relic at cathedral
Thousands visited the cathedral to see the holy relic
Thousands of people have gathered in Moscow for the return of what is said to be John the Baptist's right hand.

Head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II led a service at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour to celebrate the relic's return.

The hand belonged to the tsars in the 18th Century, but was taken out of the country by Empress Maria Fyodorovna in 1917 as she fled the revolution.

The relic has since been stored in Germany, Yugoslavia and Montenegro.

It will be on display at the cathedral in Moscow for two weeks before being taken on a tour of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

According to the Bible, St John the Baptist baptised Jesus. He is also considered a prophet by Islam.

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