Europe

Russian cosmonaut says he has taken relics of saint to space

  • Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov uses a sat phone shortly after landing near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan Monday, April 10, 2017, on the treeless Central Asian steppes Russia's Soyuz MS-02 space capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhykov of Russia and NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough landed in a remote area in Kazakhstan. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool photo via AP)

    Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov uses a sat phone shortly after landing near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan Monday, April 10, 2017, on the treeless Central Asian steppes Russia's Soyuz MS-02 space capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhykov of Russia and NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough landed in a remote area in Kazakhstan. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Monday, April 10, 2017. Kimbrough, Ryzhikov, and Borisenko returned from the International Space Station. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

    The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Monday, April 10, 2017. Kimbrough, Ryzhikov, and Borisenko returned from the International Space Station. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov rests in a chair shortly after landing near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan Monday, April 10, 2017, on the treeless Central Asian steppes Russia's Soyuz MS-02 space capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhykov of Russia and NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough landed in a remote area in Kazakhstan. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool photo via AP)

    Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov rests in a chair shortly after landing near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan Monday, April 10, 2017, on the treeless Central Asian steppes Russia's Soyuz MS-02 space capsule carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhykov of Russia and NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough landed in a remote area in Kazakhstan. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A cosmonaut who has returned to Earth after a mission on the International Space Station says he took a relic of a Russian Orthodox saint with him.

Sergei Ryzhikov told Russian news agencies on Wednesday that he would give the tiny relic of St. Serafim of Sarov's body to an Orthodox church in Star City outside Moscow, home to the cosmonaut training center.

Ryzhikov, who landed with two other crew members on Monday after six months in space, said he would celebrate the relic's return at a church service in Star City on Thursday.

Space exploration in atheist Soviet society was often portrayed as the debunking the existence of God. Russia has since experienced a religious revival, with the overwhelming majority of Russians now identifying themselves as Russian Orthodox.