Priests Pour Holy Water Over City From Plane To Help Stop 'Fornication' and Substance Abuse
The clergymen decided to go to great lengths - or rather heights - to try and purge the central Russian city of Tver of such spiritual illnesses, taking to the skies in a small aeroplane on 11 September (also the Russian Orthodox Church's Day of Sobriety).
Bishop Savva told Tver News ahead of the flight: "I want my prayers to protect the city from the afflictions befalling it, from all accidents and social adversity."
Once the aircraft had clambered up to an altitude of 800ft, the priests began proceedings.
They kicked things off by holding a prayer service, before the door to the plane was opened and they poured the holy water out onto the city below - 70 litres of the stuff, in fact.
Also onboard were a married couple, who claimed the husband had been miraculously cured of alcoholism that day.
Father Alexander Goryachev told the news site: "Any disease is from a virus, and a virus is a demon. Therefore, any disease is primarily a spiritual disease."
Goryachev has boarded a plane every September since 2006 to mark the Church's Day of Sobriety.
But while he's used to flying over Tver armed with icons in a bid to bring people back to righteousness, this year he and Bisop Savva decided extra measures were needed. They decided to pack the specially sanctified water and the 19th century icon of the Inexhaustible Chalice that Orthodox believers maintain can heal alcoholics and drug addicts.
Alexander insisted the holy water was poured from a chalice, rather than an instrument called an aspergillum that priests usually use in church.
He explained: "This stops the spray from being blown back into the plane."
While the stunt has been met with widespread ridicule - both locally and across the globe - Goryachev has been quick to rebuff those who are sceptical.
Goryachev told Tver News: "What is the joke? That we're trying to help people get rid of diseases? We promote stopping alcohol consumption, drugs and fornication - is this laughable?"
He added: "Let them laugh and we will do our job."
According to the latest statistics from the World Health Organisation, new anti-alcoholism campaigns in Russia have helped slash the country's alcohol consumption.
On average, the rate has dropped from 15.8 litres of alcohol per person in 2005 to 11.7 litres in 2016.
Featured Image Credit: Tver News