Russian Orthodox church in Bari, Italy, was officially passed to Russia on the eve of the Orthodox Epiphany on Monday January 16, 2012. This procedure was made possible after two years of negotiation and settlement of all legal matters.
The church building was transferred to the Moscow Patriarchate. According to ansa.it , among the officials attending the ceremony was also ambassador of Russia to Italy Alexei Meshkov.
The history of the church began in 1913, when it was decided to build a Russian orthodox church in Bar, where are kept the relics of St. Nicholas. The church construction was delayed for years because of the two world wars. Construction finished only in the early 1950s.
The initiative to return the church to Russia was proposed in March 2007 by then-President of Russia Vladimir Putin. Subsequently, the transfer procedure in March 2009 began the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano.
Currently Bari is one of the most popular cities in Italy among the Orthodox pilgrims. Orthodox Church in Bari, which was previously occupied by city municipality, now promises to be one of the centers of Orthodox religious life in Italy.
St. Nicholas is one of the most revered Orthodox saints. Each year thousands of pilgrims from Russia arrive in Bari for the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6 to the church to St. Nicholas to worship his relics. St. Nicholas was named by the people as Wonderworker.
Saint Nicholas lived on the territory of modern Turkey in the 4th century AD and became famous for his good deeds. He is the prototype of the modern Santa Claus.
Relics of Saint Nicholas are kept today in the Basilica of St. Nicholas, which they were delivered in the 11th century by the Italian merchants from the Turkish town of Myra.