MOSCOW – Thousands and thousands of Orthodox believers stood on the streets of Moscow in temperatures as low as 8 degrees Wednesday, in lines that stretched for nearly two miles, awaiting their own personal miracle.

Theirs was a mood of thanksgiving. Inside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior lay a decorative, glass-topped box holding part of a camel-hair belt believed to have been worn by the Virgin Mary more than 2,000 years ago. Its presence here was miracle enough, but the relic is thought to grant women fertility and health.

Those at the front of the line had been outdoors close to 20 hours, waiting to file quickly past the box and touch it reverently, if briefly. They smiled, making patience a virtue, as if they had been waiting all of their lives for this moment.

“This is our one opportunity to see it,” said Yevgenia Leskova, who had gotten in line just after midnight Tuesday and was positioned to reach the cathedral by 8 p.m. Wednesday. “The Mother of God wore this belt when she was pregnant, and it can help women get pregnant, and cure us of disease.”

The belt, though so revered by women, belongs to a Greek monastery on Mount Athos where only men may visit. It has been kept in Greece for centuries, until this visit to Russia, and went on view in Moscow at midnight Saturday after display in St. Petersburg and other cities. About one million people are expected to see it in Moscow before it leaves Sunday.

The crowd here is mostly women, though men can be found. A special, shorter, line was set up for the disabled and children under 5, who could be accompanied by one adult.

Evelina Khachaturyan was holding her 3 1/2-year-old grandson, Saveli, puffed up with down against the cold, about 22 degrees in late afternoon. “Our boy coughs very often,” she said, “and we want him to touch the belt so he can be cured.”