It was May Day, 1990. The place, Moscows Red Square.
“Is it straight, Father?” one Orthodox priest asked another, shifting the heavy, eight-foot crucifix on his shoulder.
“Yes,” said the other. “It is straight.”
Together the two priests, along with a group of parishioners holding ropes that steadied the beams of the huge cross, walked the parade route. Before them was passed the official might of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: the usual May Day procession of tanks, missiles, troops, and salutes to the Communist party elite.
Behind the tanks surged a giant crowd of protesters, shouting up at Mikhail Gorbachev. “Bread! .Freedom! .Truth!”
As the throng passed directly in front of the Soviet leader standing in his place of honor, the priests hoisted their heavy burden toward the sky. The cross emerged from the crowd. As it did, the figure of Jesus Christ obscured the giant poster faces of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin that provided the backdrop for Gorbachevs reviewing stand.
“Mikhail Sergeyevich!” one of the priests shouted, his deep voice cleaving the clamor of the protesters and piercing straight toward the angry Soviet leader. “Mikhail Sergeyevich! Christ is risen!”