World

Greece: Relics of 3rd century Saint Barbara displayed at cancer hospital despite protests

  • A woman kisses Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos, center, as he escorts the holy relics of Saint Great Martyr Barbara during a procession to the church of Saint Barbara at Egaleo suburb, west of Athens, on Sunday, May 10, 2015.  The relics, which were kept in Italy, were transferred for the first time in a thousand years to an Orthodox country, with the consent of the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Venice together with the Vatican permission. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

    A woman kisses Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos, center, as he escorts the holy relics of Saint Great Martyr Barbara during a procession to the church of Saint Barbara at Egaleo suburb, west of Athens, on Sunday, May 10, 2015. The relics, which were kept in Italy, were transferred for the first time in a thousand years to an Orthodox country, with the consent of the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Venice together with the Vatican permission. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)  (The Associated Press)

  • Orthodox faithful kneel as priests carry the holy relics of Saint Great Martyr Barbara during a procession to the church of Saint Barbara at Egaleo suburb, west of Athens, on Sunday, May 10, 2015.  The relics, which were kept in Italy, were transferred for the first time in a thousand years to an Orthodox country, with the consent of the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Venice together with the Vatican permission. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

    Orthodox faithful kneel as priests carry the holy relics of Saint Great Martyr Barbara during a procession to the church of Saint Barbara at Egaleo suburb, west of Athens, on Sunday, May 10, 2015. The relics, which were kept in Italy, were transferred for the first time in a thousand years to an Orthodox country, with the consent of the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Venice together with the Vatican permission. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)  (The Associated Press)

  • A military officer prays over the holy relics of Saint Great Martyr Barbara inside the church of Saint Barbara at Egaleo suburb, west of Athens, on Sunday, May 10, 2015.  The relics, which were kept in Italy, were transferred for the first time in a thousand years to an Orthodox country, with the consent of the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Venice together with the Vatican permission. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

    A military officer prays over the holy relics of Saint Great Martyr Barbara inside the church of Saint Barbara at Egaleo suburb, west of Athens, on Sunday, May 10, 2015. The relics, which were kept in Italy, were transferred for the first time in a thousand years to an Orthodox country, with the consent of the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Venice together with the Vatican permission. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)  (The Associated Press)

Hundreds of worshippers have gathered at a chapel on the grounds of Greece's largest cancer hospital to view a silver chest with the remains of a 3rd century saint that has been put on display there despite protests.

Most of the worshippers, who include cancer patients and hospital staff members, were unable to see the chest Friday with the remains of Saint Barbara, which have been transferred from Italy and will remain in Greece for two weeks.

The display at Saint Savvas state hospital has caused a spat between the powerful Orthodox Church and members of the country's new left-wing government, who believe it gives patients false hope and should not be used to distract attention from serious shortages at public hospitals.

The church described the criticism as "disrespectful."