Moscow, March 16, 2017
On March 11 in the Church of St. Romanos the Melodist, in the tomb of the Romanov boyars, the vicar of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and deputy abbot of Moscow’s Novospassky Monastery Bishop Sava of Voskresensk blessed an icon of Holy Hierarch and Confessor Luke (Voino-Yasenetsky) the Physician of Simferopol which is to be sent to the International Space Station.
The icon has since been sent to the Russian Federal Space Agency by the Institute of Biomedical Problems, and is scheduled to be sent to the space station from April till July 2017, reports the monastery’s website.
The painting of the icon was complicated by the fact that for use on the space station, iconographers cannot use artificial colors. Thus the icon is covered only with an oil varnish instead of laquer.
The delivery of the St. Luke icon to the International Space Station is possible thanks to the executive director of manned space programs of the state corporation “RosCosmos” (the Federal Space Agency) astronaut Sergei Konstantinovich Krikalev, who circled the earth more than 1,000 times on board Union TMA-6 in 2005 together with a copy of the miraculous Valaam Icon.
The icon’s arrival and stay on the space station is timed to the 140th anniversary of St. Luke’s birth on May 9, 2017. St. Luke was a beloved bishop and physician who treated innumerable people, many of whom are still alive today. In 1946 he was awarded a first degree Stalin Prize, but was later subject to repressions, being exiled for eleven years. He was rehabilitated in April 2000, and later that same year was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in the assembly of Russian New Martyrs and Confessors.
Today St. Luke is widely venerated throughout the Orthodox world, including Russia, Ukraine, Greece, and America and beyond.