Voices From Russia, Too

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

VOR Presents… The Feastday of the Imperial Martyrs

On 17 July, Church celebrates the feastday of the Imperial Martyrs Tsar Nikolai II, Tsaritsa Alexandra, their children Tsarevich Aleksei, the Grand Princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, martyred in Yekaterinburg in the basement of the Ipatiev House on the night of 16/17 July 1918.

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Tsar Nikolai and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine married in November 1894. A year after their marriage in 1895, the first daughter was born, Grand Princess Olga, after her three more daughters were born, Tatiana (1897), Maria (1899), and Anastasia (1901). In 1904, the couple finally received their long-awaited son, the heir to the Russian throne, Tsarevich Aleksei. In the image above, Tsar Nikolai II (right), Tsaritsa Alexandra (left), and Grand Princess Olga Nikolaevna (centre).

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By the spring of 1917, a conspiracy to remove the tsar from power developed. On 2 March, the officials closest to him pressed him to abdicate the throne in favour of his younger brother Mikhail. Grand Prince Mikhail refused the crown, leading to the fall of the monarchy in Russia. The Provisional Government arrested the former tsar and his family.

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Once the tsar’s family was in custody, their guards subjected them to incessant harassment and humiliation… the guards enjoyed their power over the former autocrat. However, they were calm and kept their equanimity, the gentleness of the former monarch and his family softened the hearts of even the sternest guards, which meant that the authorities had to change the guard unit often, for the guards ended up having compassion on the tsar and his family. According to the memoirs of some of the guards, the prisoners impressed everyone with their unfeigned religiosity. In the image above, the procession from the Cathedral of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood to the Ganina Yama Monastery, in remembrance of the murder of the family of Tsar Nikolai II in Yekaterinburg.

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In April 1918, the authorities moved the tsar’s family into a house in Yekaterinburg once owned by the engineer Ipatiev. On the night of 16/17 July (3/4 July, Old Style), the prisoners descended into the cellar on the pretext of another move, the commander of the guard read out their “sentence”, and his men immediately opened fire. The shooting was random; the holy martyrs were finished off with bayonets. Four of their servants were killed with the royal family… the physician Yevgeni Botkin, the maid Anna Demidova, the cook Ivan Kharitonov, and the footman Aleksei Trupp, all of whom kept their loyalty to the end.

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After the execution, the killers took the bodies out of town to an abandoned mine in Ganina Yama, where they tried to destroy them using sulphuric acid, petrol, and hand grenades. The communist authorities blew up the Ipatiev House in 1970 {Boris Yeltsin did the dirty deed: Editor}. Diggers found the remains of the imperial family and their servants in July 1991 near Yekaterinburg under the embankment of the Old Koptyakovskoy Road. The RF Genprokuratura identified the remains during a criminal investigation. In the image above, believers venerate a cross on the spot where the remains of the royal family were found.

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On 17 July 1998, the remains of imperial family members and their servants were buried in Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg. On 14 August 2000, in Moscow, a Sobor of the MP declared that the last Russian tsar, Nikolai II, and his family and servants, were saints. The MP designated the royal family “passionbearers”, that is, those who meekly accepted a martyr’s death.

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Many Christians turn in prayer to the intercessions of the Royal Passionbearers, to strengthen their families, to help them to raise their children in faith and piety, and to help them preserve their children’s purity and chastity. This is because people understand that the persecution of the Imperial family brought them even more closely together; their faith carried them through all their grief and suffering.

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From the date of canonisation, many believers consider that all the portraits of the last Russian tsar and his family are icons. The MP approved services, “lives”, and icons of Ss Tsar Nikolai, Tsaritsa Alexandra, Tsarevich Alexis, Grand Princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia for all-Church usage. In the image above, Grand Princess St Anastasia, the fourth daughter of Tsar St Nikolai II.

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In 2003, in Yekaterinburg, on the site of the demolished Ipatiev House, where Nikolai II and his family was shot, the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood and All Saints Who Shone Forth in the Russian Land was dedicated, with a monument to the family of Nikolai II in the front of it.

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18 July 2011

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/photoalbum/53373569/53373580/index.html

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