Icon belonging to the Imperial Family now in the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

PHOTO: Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

Today – 11th July – the feast of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” – a miraculous icon revered in the Orthodox Church – is being celebrated in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg.

During their house arrest in the Ipatiev House from April to July 1918, the Imperial Family had an Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed”, before which they prayed daily, until their death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

The Imperial Family’s icon was discovered following the regicide in the Ipatiev House by a Guards officer who personally knew Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960) and her husband Nikolai Kuikovsky (1881-1958). Later, the icon traveled with Admiral Alexander Kolchak’s (1874-1920) army and Russian emigrants, through China to the United States and Canada. In the early 1920s, through the efforts of officers devoted to Emperor Nicholas II, it was taken to Denmark and presented to the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928). Passing from generation to generation, the icon remained in the Romanov family until 2003: upon the Dowager Empress’s death in 1928, the icon passed to her youngest daughter Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna , then passing to her eldest son Tikhon in 1960.

In the year marking the 85th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the Imperial Family, Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovskaya-Romanova (1926-2020) took part in the consecration of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, erected on the site of the Ipatiev House, demolished in 1977. In addition and according to the last will and testament of her husband and nephew of Nicholas II Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky, Olga Nikolaevna brought from Canada the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed”.

By the Providence of God, on the night of 10th July 2003, Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovskaya-Romanova, solemnly handed over the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” to the Church on Blood in Ekaterinburg, built on the site of the demolished Ipatiev House, where the Holy Royal Martyrs met their deaths and martyrdom. Thus, the dying wish of Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky – the last owner of the family icon – had been fulfilled.

PHOTO: Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovskaya-Romanova (left), solemnly handed over the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” to the Church on Blood in Ekaterinburg on 10th July 2003

In her solemn speech to the pilgrims Olga Nikolaevna said: “I am happy that the Lord deigned me to fulfill the will of my husband Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky-Romanov … This icon in the Ipatiev House was a spiritual witness to the sufferings of the Holy Royal Martyrs. Everything has come full circle. After many years of wanderings, the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” has returned to its proper place in Ekaterinburg. “

According to tradition, the feast of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed”, marks the beginning of Tsar’s Days within the Ekaterinburg archdiocese. In July 2019, during the Divine Liturgy in the Church on the Blood, Metropolitan Kirill, now – the head of the Tatarstan archdiocese, said “from this day, begins Passion Week, dedicated to the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs. Starting from today, and every day of Passion Week, the earthly life and the last moments of the Holy Royal Martyrs will be honoured.”

A Divine Liturgy will be held on the night of 16/17 July in the Church on the Blood. Earlier this week, the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region cancelled the annual Cross Procession from the Church to the Holy Royal Monastery at Ganina Yama. Despite this, Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky insists that he will still take part in the sacred procession.

© Paul Gilbert. 11 July 2021

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