Russian Orthodox priests in the Central Russian city of Tver took to the skies in a small airplane to save citizens from “drunkenness and fornication,” reported a Russian local media outlet.
On Sept. 11, Sobriety Day, an unofficial Russian holiday, the priests carried 70 liters (about 18 gallons) of holy water onto the aircraft.
Once the plane reached an altitude of 200 to 300 meters (approximately 800 feet) the blessings began. Clergymen held a prayer service before pouring the holy water out of the plane’s open door.
Priests tipped the water out from a large chalice in an attempt to heal those suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction. A married couple that claims the husband was miraculously cured of alcoholism also was on the flight.
Father Alexander, one of the priests, said the ritual is designed to stop the use of “alcohol,” “drugs” and to “stop fornication.”
“Any disease is from a virus, and a virus is a demon,” he explained. “Therefore, any disease is primarily a spiritual disease.”
It’s one of the latest efforts to promote sobriety in Russia, a country known for its national love of vodka.
World Health Organization statistics show that new anti-alcoholism campaigns have helped cut Russian alcohol consumption from 15.8 liters (about 4 gallons) of alcohol per person in 2005 to 11.7 liters (about 3 gallons) in 2016.