They wanted to pray in the crypt of St. Nicholas, in the presence of his relics, for the protection of their loved ones.
Ksenia and Irina, both from Ukraine, arrived in Bari, Italy, from Naples, specifically to pray for their loved ones in Ukraine before the relics of St. Nicholas. The doors of the basilica, however, were closed because of a theft committed the previous night. Someone broke into the shrine containing the statue of the Bishop of Myra, a symbol of the union between West and East, and stole several items, including a jewel-studded silver cross and a gold ring. When the two women learned the news, they were silent and sad, but not deterred.
Irina cried and knelt down on the stairs; the images of that moment are powerful. “I wanted to pray for my daughters and grandchildren who live in Mariupol,” she says. “Since the bombing, we’ve had no news of them,” she told Italian daily La Repubblica. Irina has been living in Naples for a while, reports TRMTV, although her children and grandchildren remained in Ukraine.