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 (right), 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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Ekaterinburg’s annual Tsar’s Cross Procession cancelled

PHOTO: tens of thousands participate in the annual Cross Procession in Ekaterburg

The Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Yevgeny Kuyvashev announced today, that the traditional Tsar’s Cross Procession, which is held annually in Ekaterinburg on the anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, has been cancelled due to a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

In the past four days, more than 300 new cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the region every day. Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, more than 96 thousand people contracted the virus in Ekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk region, 3.9 thousand of whom died. Russia is now experiencing a third wave and ranks fifth in the highest number of cases. More than 5.6 million cases have been recorded in Russia with more than 138 thousand deaths.

“This year the Cross Procession during Tsar’s days will not be held … The new strain t hat is spreading throughout the region is even more dangerous. Many more people are now in need of oxygen, the hospitals are filled to capacity. Therefore, we are cancelling the procession this year,” the governor stated.

Kuyvashev also published a photo from last year’s procession, in which, according to the Ekaterinburg Diocese, only 10 thousand people participated. The governor noted that despite the pandemic, many of the pilgrims did not use masks and did not practice social distancing. As a result, many of those who participated in last years’ Cross Procession, fell ill with the coronavirus shortly thereafter. He stressed that next year, providing the pandemic has been eliminated, it will be possible to hold a procession “on an even larger scale than before.”

Traditionally, several tens of thousands of people participate in the Tsar’s Cross Procession in the Ural city – 60 thousand in 2019 and 100 thousand in 2018. The procession follows the same route that the regicides carried the murdered remains of the Imperial Family and their faithful servants to an abandoned mine at Ganina Yama. The procession does not go to Porosnkov Log, where the regicides buried them in a second unmarked grave. The route of the procession begins at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama – a distance of 26 km (16 miles), taking about four to five hours to walk on foot.

PHOTO: Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky

The head of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky was quick to respond to the governor’s announcement, by writing in his Telegram page about the importance of upholding the tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession, sacred to many Orthodox Christians and monarchists, and about the choice of each of us in a situation where there can be no ideal solutions.

“The tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama has outgrown the framework of the so-called Tsar’s Days events and has become sacred for tens of thousands of people. And now people will continue to follow the holy path. But, will they walk along safely blocked streets? Or on narrow sidewalks next to dangerously speeding cars? Time will tell.

“In the current pandemic situation, there are no perfect solutions. Everyone must independently find a balance between courage and fear, responsibility and caution.

I will definitely go!”, declared Vladyka Yevgeny.

“The decision of the authorities, who have cancelled this years Tsar’s Cross Procession, is well founded, however, one should not stigmatize believers as the culprits of the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our goal is not death from fear of the coronavirus or from the coronavirus itself, but life with God and love for our neighbours.

“I urge everyone to take maximum precautions to protect themselves and of those around them. I pray that the Lord will preserve all of us in health and long life, and I bless you to add caution and love for your dearest to your prayer” Vladyka Yevgeny concluded.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 July 2021

30th anniversary of the exhumation of the remains of Nicholas II and his family

PHOTO: Avdonin and his team excavate the burial site at Porosenkov Log in 1991

WARNING: please be aware that this post includes graphic images which some readers may find disturbing.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the exhumation of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and members of his family, discovered at Porosenkov Log in 1979. The Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore in Ekaterinburg have published archival photos of the excavations, which were not carried out until 1991.

The photos show the excavations, which were initiated in the Porosenkov Log area on the Old Koptyakovskaya Road on 11th July 1991. Geologist Alexander Nikolaevich Avdonin and curator from the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Lyudmila Koryakova and their team experts, all participated in the exhumation of the skeletons, which, were later established as the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their three daughters Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and their four faithful retainers.

PHOTO: Avdonin and his team excavate the burial site at Porosenkov Log in 1991

According to the museum “1991 was a turning point for Russia” and “the country’s political future was uncertain.” On 12th June 1991, the presidential elections of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) were held, which was won by Boris Yeltsin – Russia’s first president. It was at this point that “more than 70 years of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was coming to an end.” This is what prompted Avdonin to initiate excavations.

It was in 1979, that Avdonin and Gely Trofimovich Ryabov (1932-2015) discovered the unmarked grave containing the skeletons of the Romanovs in the north-western outskirts of Sverdlovsk. At first Avdonin believed that the time was not yet right to announce their discovery, however, Yeltsin’s victory convinced him that it was high time. On 10th July 1991, he turned to Governor Eduard Rossel and said that he knew where the remains of the Imperial Family were buried.

PHOTO: remains of the Imperial Family exhumed from the burial site at Porosenkov Log in 1991

Despite the fact that the political situation in Russia seemed extremely unstable, Rossel decided to exhume the remains. On 11th July 1991, Avdonin and Rossel assembled a team of local archaeologists, who began the excavation of the grave at Porosenkov Log. Upon the discovery of the remains, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case. The outcome of the investigation divided many Russian Orthodox Christians – some of whom recognized the authenticity of the remains, while many others did not. The investigations and examinations are still ongoing, however a final decision on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg remains will be made by the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which will take place in November of this year.

PHOTO: Alexander Avdonin (right) with Nikolai Borisovich Neuymin, director of the Romanov Memorial Hall in Ekaterinburg, standing at the burial site at Porosenkov Log

Emperor Nicholas II and his family were all shot in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The bodies were taken out of the city, where their murderers attempted to destroy the remains with fire and acid in the area of ​​old mines in the Ganina Yama tract. Their horrific mission failed, after which the remains were transported 3.8 km and buried near the Old Koptyakovskaya Road [Porosenkov Log]. The grave remained a secret until 1979, when the remains were found by a team of enthusiasts led by the Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin, who worked under the patronage of Geliy Ryabov, at that time assistant to the head of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs.

It was not possible to extract and study the remains at that time. Avdonin’s team, together with archaeologists, did this in 1991, only to discover that two skeletons were missing. It was not until 2007, that the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria, were discovered in a second grave just meters from the main burial site.

© Paul Gilbert. 7 July 2021

Nicholas II’s grave was an “open secret” in Soviet Russia during the 1920s

PHOTO: the remains of Nicholas II, his wife, three of their children and their four faithful retainers were buried under the “sleepers bridge” at Porosenkov Log by their murderers in 1918

We hid them so well that the world will never find them,” boasted Commissar for Supply in the Ural Region Soviet Pyotr Lazarevich Voykov (1888-1927), on the location of the murdered remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

While the burial site of the Imperial Family at Porosenkov Log remained a secret to the world for more than 60 years, it was in fact an “open secret”[1] to a select few in the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

In January 1928 – ten years after the murders of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers – the famous Soviet poet Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930) visited Sverdlovsk. It was at the city’s Business Club that he met the Chairman of the Ekaterinburg City Executive Committee Anatoly Ivanovich Paramonov (1891-1970), making enquiries about the city and the last days of the Imperial Family.

Paramonov took Mayakovsky to the Ipatiev House, and then in minus 30-degree frost, along the Old Koptyaki Road to the place where the remains of the Imperial Family had been buried by their murderers – members of the Ural Soviet on 17th July 1918.

“Of course, it was nothing special – to see the grave of the tsar. In fact, nothing is visible there. It is very difficult to find as there are no signs or marks, this secret place is familiar only to a certain group of people,” Mayakovsky wrote in his diary.

PHOTO: Vladimir Mayakovsky and Anatoly Paramonov

Three months after his trip to the Urals, Mayakovsky wrote the mockingly pathetic poem The Emperor, which indicated the place of burial with absolute toponymic accuracy. In his poem, Mayakovsky reveals clues: “Beyond the Iset [river], where the wind howled, the executive committee coachman fell silent and stood at the ninth verst.”[2] “Beyond Iset at the ninth verst” is a key clue that indicated where to look for the tsar’s grave on the Old Koptyaki Road. The poem further notes: “Here the cedar was torn with an ax, notches under the root of the bark, at the root, under the cedar, there is a road, and in it the emperor is buried.”

The Emperor was published in the Soviet literary magazine Krasnaya Nov on 4th April 1928. Mayakovsky’s poem made a terrible impression on the Russian/Soviet poet Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (1892-1941). She deplored Mayakovsky’s justification of the terrible massacre, as a kind of verdict of history. She insisted that the poet should be on the side of the victims, not the executioners, and if the story is cruel and unfair, he must speak against it. In 1929, in response, she began working on a poem about the Tsar’s Family entitled Heart and Stone.

Mayakovsky’s poem, as well as other evidence such as the “Yurovsky note”, helped Soviet and Russian geologist Alexander Nikolayevich Avdonin and Soviet writer and filmmaker Geliy Trofimovich Ryabov (1932-2015) locate the remains of the Imperial Family in 1979[3].

PHOTO: Pyotr Voykov and Boris Kowerda

In 1926, Mayakovsky visited Voykov in Warsaw, where the latter served as Soviet Ambassador to Poland. It was during this visit that Voykov told Mayakovsky about the regicide which took place in Ekaterinburg. Voykov was assassinated in Warsaw on 7th June 1927, by Boris Sofronovich Kowerda (1907-1987) a White émigré and monarchist. Kowerda planned to kill Voykov in order to “Avenge Russia, and the deaths of millions of people”, as well for Voykov’s participation in the decision to execute Nicholas II and his family.

Declassified photographs taken by members of the firing squad, as well as those who did not participate in the regicide, but who knew of the location of burial site, aided Paramonov and Mayakovsky to locate the “sleepers bridge” (see photo below).

The murderer Pyotr Zakharovich Ermakov (1884-1952) used a Mauser pistol[4], during the liquidation of the Imperial Family in the basement of the Ipatiev House. He brought it with him to the place where the bodies lay so that he could be photographed (see photo below).

“In the first half of the 1960s, one of the sons of the murderers applied to the Central Committee of the Communist Party with a letter addressed to the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev (1894-1971), boasting that his father had participated in the murder of the Imperial Family. He presented Khrushchev with two pistols that he had preserved: one for the Soviet leader, the other – to be handed over to Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro (1926-2016) as the leader of the world revolution. At that time, documents in all the archives were still sealed, yet two of the executioners were still alive. And for history, the Radio Committee recorded their memories, which had been preserved and “coincided with those of Yakov Mikhailovich Yurovsky” (1878-1938), said Sergei Mironenko, Director of the State Archives of the Russian Federation [GARF} in Moscow.

Yurovsky served as commandant of the “House of Special Purpose” [Ipatiev House], and the chief executioner of the Tsar and his family. But his memories raised a lot of questions – some historians believe that the typewritten text may have been specially falsified by the GPU-NKVD-KGB, in order to send future search efforts on the wrong track, or a story written by a third party, such as the Soviet historian Mikhail Nikolayevich Pokrovsky[5].

PHOTO: in the 1920s, the murderer Pyotr Zakharovich Yermakov returned to Porosenkov Log. On the reverse of this photo, he wrote: “I am standing on the grave of the Tsar”.

According to Vladimir Nikolaevich Solovyov, senior investigator and forensic expert at the Main Department of Criminalistics (Forensic Center) of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, who from 1991 to 2015 led the investigation into the death of the imperial family, “the real breakthrough was made quite recently”.

Shortly after the completion of the work of the government commission, a safe was discovered in another archive, not in the State Archive, but in the former Central Party Archive, which had not been opened for many decades. It contained a manuscript of the famous Soviet historian Mikhail Nikolayevich Pokrovsky (1868-1932), a typewritten copy of which is kept in the State Archive. The discovery immediately confirmed that this is Yurovsky’s recollection, recorded by Pokrovsky. According to Sergei Mironenko, the bottom of the last page of the manuscript had been torn off. Apparently, it contained the name of the place where the bodies were hidden. So there is no evidence? There is! As shown by the graphological examination, handwritten by Pokrovsky and Yurovsky, the name was entered into the typewritten version, the authenticity of which is considered beyond any doubt.

“Interestingly, at the end of the classic text of Yurovsky’s note, there is an addition, made in pencil, which precisely indicates the place where the bodies were found,” said Solovyov.

PHOTO: Pyotr Zakharovich Yermakov (far right) posing with a group of prominent Ural Bolsheviks on the Tsar’s grave[6], his Mauser pistol can be seen in the foreground in front of P.M. Bykov, author of The Last Days of Tsardom (1934)

There has always been a mystique behind this story. A 1991 diagram clearly shows the location of the bodies. Their remains were not laid, but simply dumped by their murderers. For example, Olga’s skull is under the skeleton of her father. But even in the photo of the burial site, opened in 1991, a telephone cable is clearly visible. When laying it, the cutter even cut off the arm of one of the skeletons. But how could the Soviet telephone technicians know where they were laying the cable, because even if they had read Mayakovsky’s poem, the instructions were too obscure for them to link it to the burial site.

One more detail – small but important. According to Mayakovsky’s poem, he wrote about “the cedar was torn with an axe”. During a comprehensive survey of the area, a fallen stump, clearly cut long ago with an axe was found.

PHOTO: Mayakovsky’s photo pinned to a tree at Porosenkov Log


[1] An “open secret” is a concept or idea that is “officially” secret or restricted in knowledge, but in practice (de facto) may be widely known; or it refers to something that is widely known to be true but which none of the people most intimately concerned are willing to categorically acknowledge in public.

[2] A verst is a Russian measure of length, about 0.66 mile (1.1 km).

[3] The remains of the Imperial Family were first discarded at the Four Brothers Mine, which is today the site of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. Avdonin and Ryabov discovered the second grave 3.8 km down the highway at Porosenkov Log.

[4] Yermakov’s revolver can be seen on display in the Romanov Memorial Hall, located on the top floor of the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Urals, in Ekaterinburg

[5] Pokrovsky was a Russian Marxist historian, Bolshevik revolutionary and a public and political figure. One of the earliest professionally trained historians to join the Russian revolutionary movement, Pokrovsky is regarded as the most influential Soviet historian of the 1920s.

His attitude to the tsar, the nobility, generals, statesmen and church leaders and diplomats of the Tsarist period appear in the Pokrovsky’s works in a completely different light – as selfish, cruel, limited, ignorant individuals. To achieve greater impact on the reader, representatives of the ruling classes and leaders were denounced with the help of satire, irony and grotesque. Thus, Pokrovsky’s negative assessment of the reign of Nicholas II was accepted as the standard in the Soviet Union, where he was vilified.

[6] Group of prominent Ural Bolsheviks, photographed at the “grave of the Romanovs”, 1924. This photo is on display in the Romanov Memorial Hall, located on the top floor of the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Urals, in Ekaterinburg

(from left to right): back row – A.I. Paramonov (chairman of the board of Uralselkhozbank and editor of Krestyanskaya Gazeta, *NN, M.M. Kharitonov (first secretary of the Ural regional committee of the RCP (b)), B.V. Didkovsky (deputy chairman of Uralplan), I.P. Rumyantsev (head of propaganda department), *NN, A.L. Borchaninov (chairman of the Tyumen regional executive committee); front row – D.E.Sulimov (chairman of the Ural regional executive committee), G.S. Moroz (head of the Yekaterinburg department of the GPU), M.V. Vasiliev (employee of Uralselkhozbank), P.M.Bykov (editor of the newspaper “Uralskaya Nov”), A.G. Kabanov, P.Z.Ermakov (employee of the Cheka)

*NN denotes “unknown identity”

© Paul Gilbert. 6 July 2021

Furniture moved into the Mauve Boudoir of the Alexander Palace

PHOTO: Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s writing table in the Mauve Boudoir
2021 © Tsarskoye Selo Restoration Workshop

In addition to last week’s post about the recreated chair taking its rightful place in the corner of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s Mauve (Lilac) Drawing Room, several additional pieces have since been moved into this iconic interior of the Alexander Palace.

The only original item to have survived from the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir was Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s writing-table, which originally stood in front of the window at an angle. The table entered the collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Reserve in 1999. During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45), the table had not been evacuated.

PHOTO: the restored writing table of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna
2021 © Tsarskoye Selo Restoration Workshop

Following the war, the table was discovered in a deplorable state in the Alexander Park by the former curator of the Alexander Palace, Anatoly Mikhailovich Kuchumov (1912-1993). In 2018, restorers conducted test clearing of the paint layer of the table, determined the initial colour of its finish and, on the basis of this, made a decision on the colour scheme of the panels, built-in furniture and doors of the Mauve Boudoir. In 2020, the masters of the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop restored the table and recreated the lost details, based on photographs and archival descriptions.

PHOTO: recreated furniture in the Mauve Boudoir of the Alexander Palace
2021 © Tsarskoye Selo Restoration Workshop

PHOTO: early 20th century photo of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna relaxing on her sofa in the Mauve Boudoir. Note the side table piled high with books, letters and other papers, as well as the framed photos of her family on the shelves above.

And just this past week, several other pieces of furniture recreated for this interior were moved into place. The most prominent is the mauve sofa – an exact copy of the original – where the Empress would come to relax, read and write letters. This sofa was her refuge on the days she felt unwell, and often taking her meals during her indispositions.

PHOTO: recreated furniture in the Mauve Boudoir of the Alexander Palace
2021 © Tsarskoye Selo Restoration Workshop

In addition, we see another arm chair with tassels and foot stool, side tables and book cases. But take note of the finer details of the interior, with its white wood panelling, decorated with framed photos set against the background of the mauve silk wall covering. At long last, the once favourite room of the last Empress of Russia is nearing completion.

For more information on the history and recreation of the Empress’s Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, please refer to the following articles below:

Recreation of Furniture for the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace – published on 9th December 2020

The history and restoration of the Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir in the Alexander Palace – published on 4th November 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 5 July 2021


Fifteen interiors situated in the eastern wing of the palace, are now scheduled to open to visitors in the Summer of 2021. Among the recreated interiors are the New Study of Nicholas II, Moorish Bathroom of Nicholas II, Working Study of Nicholas II, Reception Room of Nicholas II, Pallisander (Rosewood) Living Room, Mauve (Lilac) Boudoir, Maple Drawing Room, Alexandra’s Corner Reception Room, the Imperial Bedroom, among others.

In the future, the Alexander Palace will become a memorial museum of the Romanov family – from Catherine the Great to Nicholas II, showcasing the private, domestic life of the Russian monarchs who used the palace as an official residence. The eastern wing of the palace will be known as the Museum of the Russian Imperial Family. The multi-museum complex, which includes the Western wing is scheduled for completion no earlier than 2024.


Dear Reader: If you enjoy my articles and updated on the history and restoration of the Alexander Palace, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMePayPal, credit cardpersonal check or money order

Your donation helps support my work in a number of ways, including research, the cost of translations from Russian media and archival sources, the maintenance of my news blog: Nicholas II. Emperor. Tsar. Saint., the organization of conferences and other events. Thank you for your consideration – PG

Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg celebrates its Patronal Feast Day

PHOTO: monument to the Holy Royal Martyrs, set against the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

On 4th July 2021, the Church on the Blood in Honour of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, celebrates its patronal holiday.

The Church-Monument on the Blood was erected on the site of the martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II, his August family and their four faithful retainers.

At the end of 1878, a mining official, State Councillor Ivan Ivanovich Redikortsev, built a two-story stone mansion on a hill near the Church of the Ascension of the Lord. In 1908, the house was bought by a military civil engineer Nikolai Nikolayevich Ipatiev (1869-1938).

On the night of 16/17 July 1918, Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers were brutally murdered in the basement of the Ipatiev House. Following the regicide the house was returned to Ipatiev, who then sold the mansion to representatives of the White Army.

On 4th August 1975, a secret resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU No.P185 / 34 “On the demolition of the Ipatiev mansion in the city of Sverdlovsk” was adopted.

The Ipatiev House was demolished on 22-23 September 1977 by Russia’s future president Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007), who was at the time First Secretary of the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU.

On 20th September 1990, the Sverdlovsk Soviet decided to transfer the land on the western slope of the Voznesenskaya Gorka to the Ekaterinburg diocese.

On 10th October 1990, the City Executive Committee made a decision to install “a memorial symbol at the site of the murder of the Tsar’s family.” In the same month, Archbishop Melchizedek of Sverdlovsk and Verkhoturye consecrated an Orthodox Cross on the site.

On 28th December 1993, a blessing was received for the construction of the church. A state commission was gathered and architectural as well as funding plans were developed.

On 19th May 1994, with the blessing of Nikon, Bishop of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, a chapel canopy was erected over the cross, crowned with a dome and cross.

On 4th April 2000, Archbishop Vikentiy of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky performed a requiem for the Tsar’s family and a Divine Liturgy at the construction site of the church. In August 2000, at the jubilee Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, the Tsar’s family was glorified as a passion-bearers.

Click HERE to read my article Excavations at the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in the early 2000s, published on 24th October 2020

On 23rd September of the same year, His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and All Russia (1929-2008) laid a memorial capsule in the eastern wall of the foundation of the future church. The construction of the Church on the Blood was completed in 2003.

The completed complex comprises two churches, a belfry, a patriarchal annex, and a museum dedicated to the former imperial family; the altar of the main five-domed church, made in the Russian-Byzantine style, is directly over the site of the Romanovs’ murder. The complex covers a total of 29,700 square feet (2,760 m2).

On 16th July 2003, the upper church was consecrated in honour of All the saints who shone in the Russian land. On 18th April 2010, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia consecrated the Lower Church in honour of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers.

PHOTO: beautiful mosaic panel depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs on the wall of the Imperial Room, located in the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood

The central altar of the Lower Church is consecrated in honour of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. In the south-eastern part of the Lower Church is the Imperial Room, which contains an altar in honour of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers and their faithful servants who were martyred on this spot.

© Paul Gilbert. 4 July 2021