November 13, 2008 / 5:57 PM / 10 years ago

Man returns stolen relics to Russian monastery

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A man on Thursday returned relics to a Russian Orthodox monastery in Moscow eight days after they were stolen and then turned up in an antiques store, church officials said.

The relics of six saints were in a silver reliquary that went missing on November 5 after an evening mass at the 16th-century Donskoi monastery in central Moscow.

Many of Russia’s prominent citizens are buried there, including Nobel Prize-winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

On Thursday a man in his 30s wearing a black jacket and whose head was covered with a hood handed the relics back to the monks, police said.

“The young man, who introduced himself as Alexei, said the reliquary laid in silver had been brought to one of the city’s antique shops where it was to be sold,” the Orthodox Church said in a statement.

But the shop workers knew it had been stolen and returned it to the monastery, the church said. It offered no further details.

Police said the monastery’s surveillance camera filmed the man as he returned the relics.

Soviet-era dissident writer Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970. He died in August and was buried at Donskoi.

Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Catherine Bosley

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