Christians Join Beslan Mourners in First Anniversary of Killings

Christians and churches joined the first anniversary of last year’s Beslan tragedy when terrorists took staff and children of a local elementary school in Beslan, Russia hostage Sept. 1, 2004.

On Thursday, a memorial service in Beslan began with the tolling of the bells at 9:15 a.m. – the time when the attackers fired the first shots and the first victims died.

Memorial services and prayers were held in churches all over the country throughout last week, including a mass at Donskoy Monastery.

Moscow's Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady conducted a mass for the victims to the Beslan tragedy Saturday, according to a report by RIA Novosti.

The news agency reported that Russian church leader Patriarch Alexy II told believers in Saturday’s address that "the Russian Orthodox Church is expressing deep condolences and support to those who lost their near and dear, to all people of Beslan and North Ossetia."

On Saturday, people also observed a minute of silence at 1:05 pm – the time when Russian forces began to attempt to rescue hostages. White balloons were released and a nine-meter bronze monument was unveiled.

Viktor Esiyev, who lost his son for the school tragedy, told Agence France Presse, "It was raining a year ago. It's a sign that God is crying with us."

There were many Christians that have arrived in Beslan from other provinces and countries to pray, minister, and counsel to victims and their families, relatives, and friends last week.

Meanwhile, the ministry of the Union of Christians Association of Christian Churches in Russia (ACCR), that has provided ''The Center of Comfort and Reconciliation'' for child victims to help them experience comfort and meet Jesus, drew public attention to the Beslan tragedy during last week's memorial festivities.

It has been one year since the elementary school in Beslan in Russia was sieged by terrorists from the Russian republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia for three days before ending in tragedy. In the end the death toll came out to 331 people, 186 of whom were children.