Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 13:29 UK

Estonia celebrates Bible marathon

By Damien McGuinness
BBC News, Riga


The Baltic State of Estonia is celebrating a national year of reading, with book festivals and readings held all across the country.

But in the town of Haapsalu in north west Estonia, one event requires particular stamina.

A public five-day reading, from beginning to end, of the world's most translated and most widely sold piece of literature.

The book in question is, of course, the Bible.

Readers wanted

Next to the baptismal font in the 800-year-old Estonian cathedral of St John, the reading has been going since Wednesday morning - but with Moses and the Israelites still in Egypt, the story has barely begun.

The Bible is made up of 66 separate books and so far readers here have only reached the second.

It'll be Sunday before the 150 local residents, who are taking turns reading the Bible out loud, get to the end.

The church's pastor, Tiit Salumae, told the BBC that the aim of the project was to awaken fresh interest in the Bible, which he says was originally written to be read out loud.

Anyone can come in to St John's to listen. And anyone can also sign up for a stint of reading.

Among those who have volunteered are school-children, local politicians and vicars and priests of all Christian denominations. So far some readers are doing a couple of shifts

Pastor Salumae says that if anyone else is interested in taking part, there are still slots to be filled.

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