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Forty Days of Mourning Ends for Beslan Christians

Tuesday, October 12, marked the 40th day since the tragic conclusion of the school siege in the North-Ossetian town of Beslan last month
( [email protected] ) Oct 13, 2004 12:28 PM EDT

Tuesday, October 12, marked the 40th day since the tragic conclusion of the school siege in the North-Ossetian town of Beslan last month. In remembrance of those lost in the horrible tragedy, services have been held in all the Russian Orthodox churches in North Ossetia and all across the country, and different events commemorating the victims of the Beslan tragedy will be held until the end of the week.

Under the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the 40 days after a person’s death is a period of strict mourning, when the relatives and friends of that person remembers them as “the most recently departed” one. As the majority of people in Beslan and, generally, North Ossetia are followers of the Russian Orthodox Church, many have been in mourning, remembering those lost in the tragedy that shocked the world and left more than 330 children, schoolteachers, and other adults dead.

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II came out Tuesday with expressions of sympathy for and support to the people, who lost their family members

“Forty days have passed since the death of innocent people at the hands of the terrorists, who seized the general school in Beslan,” Alexy II says in a special address to the nation.

“This has been a period of bitter grief and trial for the families of the departed ones, and only other people’s sympathy, compassion, and prayers have made it possible for them to get over the grief and gave strength to them to continue living,” the address says as reported by Itar-Tass News.

Alexy II continued saying, “The cruelty of the thugs overfilled with hatred and malice shocked the world community and left a deep imprint in the heart of every Russian.”

The patriarch wished courage to the relatives and friends of the dead in overcoming the aftermath of that most heinous crime.

Meanwhile, a special liturgy in remembrance of the victims was recited at Moscow’s Cathedral of the Savior Tuesday morning.

The Archbishop Arsenius of Istra, who took part in the liturgy recitation, explained that, “Tradition requires that on the 40th day after someone’s death a particular remembrance service must be chanted, and that’s why we’ve gathered here in the Cathedral of the Savior to pray for those who were slain or died of wounds.”

The Rev. Arsenius continued, adding that “Malicious people tried to sew discord in our society, but their schemes flopped, because our people always stands up united to face the times of trial – and we definitely saw how our compatriots sympathized with the victims of the tragedy,” he said.

Members of the Ossetian community living in Moscow are also paying tribute to ten servicemen of the Alfa crack unit of the Russian Army, who lost their lives while freeing the hostages.

From now until the end of the week, different events will be held in the town of Beslan and throughout the country, commemorating the victims of the tragedy. On October 15, a charity concert will be organized in the Cathedral of the Savior to raise money to finance construction of a memorial church in Beslan.