The abbess who came to the aid of the Imperial Family in the Ipatiev House

On this day – 29th July 1934 – Schema Magdalena (Dosmanova), the last abbess of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent[1] in Ekaterinburg before the 1917 Revolution, reposed to the Lord.

An early calling

Pelagia Stefanovna Dosmanova (future mother Magdalena) was born in 1847 into a merchant family in the city of Irbit, Perm province. In 1859, her pious parents brought their twelve-year-old daughter to the Novo-Tikhvinsky Monastery[2] in Ekaterinburg.

For her first obedience, the young novice helped in the convent candle factory, then in the rector’s cells. Over the years, she was entrusted with more and more complex and responsible obediences, and Sister Pelagia performed every task with zeal. All the sisters loved her, sensing in her a special spiritual strength, which was combined with a soft, loving attitude towards every person.

In 1893, Pelagia Dosmanova was tonsured and became the nun Magdalena, and just two years later the sisters unanimously elected her abbess “in the conviction that she was of a pious life, of a meek disposition,” as they wrote in the act of election.

PHOTO: the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent [Monastery] [2] in Ekaterinburg

Mother Magdalena

Having become abbess, Mother Magdalena worked tirelessly: she decorated the churches, equipped the cells of the sisters, ensuring that the monastery was in perfect order – she wanted the monastery to look like paradise.

Matushka taught the sisters to pray, and introduced them to reading books on which many generations of monastics were brought up from ancient times. She also took care of the spiritual needs of the faithful who lived near the monastery. Parents often came to visit the monastery, on one occasion a novice took them to the icon-painting workshop, Suddenly, unexpectedly for the parents, all the sisters who were there, as one, stood up and bowed low, with deep reverence. The parents were moved to tears.

Many girls came to the monastery to lead a monastic life under the wise guidance of Mother Magdalena. By 1917, the number of sisters had increased to almost a thousand.

During the First World War, Mother Magdalena, according to the commandment of the Lord, tried to ease the sorrows of her countrymen, the monastery donated money and valuables for the needs of Russia’s soldiers at the front; while an infirmary for wounded soldiers was arranged at the monastery.

Comes to the aid of the Imperial Family in the Ipatiev House

In 1918, Ekaterinburg became a place of exile for many people who were deemed objectionable to the new Bolshevik order, which included bishops, priests and members of the Imperial Family. Mother Magdalena’s heart ached for every innocent prisoner.

From April to July, when Nicholas II and his family were kept under arrest in the Ipatiev House, the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent were praying for them, asking God to relieve their sufferings, and to give them the strength to bear everything with Christian humility.

The sisters’ help came not only through prayer but also through deeds. Often disregarding their own safety, they supported the Tsar and his family, by bringing various foods to them through the guards.

Matushka gave her blessing to the sisters to carry food to the Ipatiev House for the imprisoned Emperor and his family: milk for Tsesarevich Alexei, cream, eggs, butter, bread, pastries, vegetables, and meat.

On 18th June 1918, a month before their murder, Empress Alexandra Feodorvna acknowledged the kindness shown them by the nuns, and made the following entry in her diary: “The kind nuns are now sending milk and eggs for Alexei and for us, as well as cream.”

The sisters carried food every day until the last day – 16th July – the eve of which the Imperial Family and their four faithful retainers were all shot to death in the basement of the Ipatiev House.

PHOTO: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna

In May 1918, when the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna arrived in Ekaterinburg, she was placed under house arrest [along with other members of the Romanov family], and placed in the Atamanovskie Rooms Hotel.

The sisters petitioned the Bolsheviks for the Grand Duchess to be allowed to live in the monastery. However, their request was rejected. Two months later, they were sent to the city of Alapaevsk, where they too were murdered.

The sisters also came to the aid of Bishop Germogen (Dolganev) of Tobolsk, also imprisoned in a local jail. The nuns delivered dinner to Vladyka from the monastery, Mother Magdalena visited him, and one day, at her request, Vladyka was allowed to serve a mass in prison, at which many prisoners took communion.

Matushka and the sisters of the the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent performed a confessional feat, by openly helping the Imperial Family and other prisoners. Indeed, at that time people were afraid not only to help political prisoners, but even simply to express sympathy for them, knowing that their punishment could lead to imprisonment or execution.

PHOTO: Bolsheviks seize and confiscate valuables from the Novo-Tikhvinsky Monastery, 1920s

“Monastery” on the Third Zagorodnaya

Sadly, the Novo-Tikhvinsky Monastery did not escape the fate suffered by most Orthodox churches and monasteries. In 1920, the monastery was closed, all the sisters were evicted. Over the gates of the monastery, the Bolsheviks hung a large banner: “Long live the World Communist Revolution!“. Mother Magdalene and the sisters looked at this slogan with heartache, often coming to pray at the walls of their native monastery. The monastery, which they had been landscaping for years, was now a pitiful sight, ravaged and defaced with communist inscriptions.

Mother Magdalena settled not far from the monastery, in a private house on Tretya Zagorodnaya Street (now Schmidt Street). Eighteen sisters came to live with her, while the others often came to her for prayer, advice and spiritual edification. During this mournful period, the virtues of Mother Magdalena and her spiritual experience acquired over many years were fully manifested. Having lost her pastoral position and her native monastery, she did not lose heart nor faith. Despite the hardships and persecutions under the Soviet regime, Matushka remained true to her Orthodox faith.

In the house on Tretya Zagorodnaya, the sisters lived as they did in the monastery – every night they read the akathist in front of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God; during the day they worked, read the scriptures, and went church together. Mother Magdalena combined prudent indulgence with moderate severity. She instructed the sisters to begin and end each day with the Jesus Prayer.

PORTRAIT: portrait of Schema Magdalena (Dosmanova). Artist unknown

Blessed Old Woman

The monastery had been closed for many years, yet despite this, new sisters still came to Mother Magdalena, who wanted to devote themselves to God.

In the 1920s, the Bolsheviks ordered the closure of churches and monasteries, and the arrest of priests, clergy, nuns and monks. The arrests carried out by the atheistic authorities did not bypass Mother Magdalena, but during interrogations she acted as a fool, which led the Chekists astray. She was arrested 8 times, and imprisoned for three months.

Three days before her death, predicted that she would die in three days. During the remaining three days of her life, she received daily communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. As Matushka lay on her deathbed, many believers came to say goodbye to her. She blessed each of them with the icon of Christ the Redeemer, and the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

On 29th (O.S. 16th) July 1934, surrounded by her children, Mother Magdalena calmly surrendered her spirit to the Lord. Just before her death, she overshadowed everyone with the Tikhvin Icon and said: “I hand you over to the Mother of God …”.

PHOTO: Mother Magdalena’s final resting place, on the grounds of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg

Mother Magdalena was buried at the Ivanovo Cemetery in Ekaterinburg. A wooden cross was placed on the grave, and on the tablet the spiritual daughters wrote with reverence and love: “Pray to God for us, dear matushka!”.

On 5th February 2021, Mother Magdalena’s earthly remains were exhumed from her grave in the Ivanovo Cemetery, and reburied in a new resting place at the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

© Paul Gilbert. 29 July 2022


[1] The Novo-Tikhvinsy Convent is a community of female monastics. It was founded in the late 18th century, growing out of an alms-house at the cemetery church in Ekaterinburg. It is the home of the icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God. During the Tsarist period, the convent grew to consist of six churches, numerous cells, a hospital, and an almshouse. The dominant building on the monastery grounds is the cathedral dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky.

[2] In English usage since about the 19th century the term “convent” almost invariably refers to a community of women, while “monastery” refers to a community of men. In historical usage they are often interchangeable.

The latest from “MASHA” and “GOSHA”

PHOTO: Maria “MASHA” Vladimirovna and her son George “GOSHA” Mikhailovich

The ongoing antics of the Spanish born Princess Maria “Masha” Vladimirovna and her son Prince George “Gosha” Mikhailovich (Hohenzollern), the self-proclaimed “Empress” and “Tsesarevich” to the non-existent Russian throne, continue to pop up in the Russian media.

A son for Gosha!

In May of this year, Gosha and his Italian born wife Rebecca Bettarini announced to the world that they were now breeding, and that their first child is due in October. On 21st July, the couple announced that they were expecting a boy.

Their adherants – a small group of Legitimist zealots, most of whom are American – wasted little time in taking to social media to coo and gush over the news.

Victoria stated in an interview with the French magazine Paris Match, “this baby will be the first Romanov born in Russia after my husband’s grandfather, Prince Vladimir Kirillovich, in 1917” – who was born in the city of Porvoo in the Grand Duchy of Finland in August 1917.

The Russian language site noted that the newborn son would be “recognized as a morganatic descendant only, having no right to inherit the Russian Throne”.

Despite this, in an effort to solidify the non-existent claims of both herself and that of her son, it is not a question of “if” but “when” Princess Maria Vladimirovna will elevate her grandson’s status to “grand duke”.

Rebecca Bettarini was received into the Russian Orthodox Church on 12th July 2020, in the SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Princess Maria Vladimirovna conferred on Madame Bettarini the title of “Her Serene Highness the Most Serene Princess,” taking the name Victoria Romanovna.

It is very important to note, that Maria Vladimirovna never had or has any authority to hand out titles or awards as she is not and never has been a ruling monarch. Despite this, Maria actively, and completely illegally distributes orders, medals and even titles of the Russian Empire. While many orders and awards of the Russian Empire have been officially restored in the modern Russian Federation, an ordinary civilian, and not a representative of the state, distributes the same order in appearance and name to her supporters on behalf of the “Imperial House”.

In addition, despite her insistence that she has no aspirations of being Empress of Russia, she does nothing to dissuade the Russian language sites, from identifying her as “Head of the Russian Imperial House H.I.H. The Empress Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.” This of course is nonsense, she is a princess, nothing more!

“No shows” at this years’ Tsar’s Days events in the Urals

Much to this writer’s surprise, not a single descendant of the Romanov family attended the Divine Liturgy held in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July. The anniversary of the regicide is very important to both Orthodox Christians and monarchists.

Neither Princess Maria Vladimirovna and her son Prince George Mikhailovich (Hohenzollern), the self-acclaimed “heads” of the “Russian Imperial Family” failed to attend the 104th anniversary marking the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

Western sanctions and the war in Ukraine cannot be used as excuses by either one of them. Despite the fact that most foreign airlines have ceased flying into Russia, it is still possible to reach St. Petersburg, Moscow and even Ekaterinburg from Europe via 3 foreign carriers.

Gosha who resides in Moscow, is the only Romanov descendant currently living in Russia, so one can only speculate his absence this year?

Let us not forget that it was Masha’s great-grandmother Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, who was openly hostile towards both the last Emperor and Empress. In addition, Masha’s grandfather and Gosha’s great-grandfather Grand Duke Kirill was a traitor to Russia’s last Tsar.

GOSHA stops short of condoning Putin’s “special operation”

“The Russian Imperial House does not make statements of a political nature . . . ”, claims Maria Vladimirovna, words of wisdom her son may want to take into consideration . . .

In recent weeks, Gosha has weighed in on the Russia/Ukraine situation. He has been quoted on Russian social media [Вера и Верность], stopping short of condoning Putin’s “special operation”:

“Ukraine for me has been and remains a part of the Fatherland in the highest sense of the word.” 15th July 2022

“Unfortunately, Western partners have chosen the path of an ultimatum against Russia, which, as we see, does not entail a solution to the Ukrainian issue, but, on the contrary, aggravates not only it, but, as a result, other world problems,” 27th June 2022.

Click HERE to read my article ‘The unholy alliance of Maria and Vlad‘, published on 5th March 2022

© Paul Gilbert. 28 July 2022

Livadia Palace marks 100th anniversary as a museum

PHOTO: facade, main entrance and garden of Livadia Palace

July marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Livadia Palace Museum. The former residence of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in Crimea, was opened to the public as a museum in 1922, however, it closed 5 years later due to a lack of visitors.

Today, the “White Pearl of Crimea”, is framed by gardens filled with the aroma of roses… classical melodies unobtrusively pour from the speakers… a queue of visitors wait patiently at the ticket booth to purchase tickets, all eager to see how the last Russian emperor and his family lived, with their own eyes. According to staff estimates, the palace today receives an average of 500 guests daily.

A similar scenario played out 100 years ago, only instead of tourists, it was students and Red Guards who roamed the halls and rooms of the palace. Thanks to archival documents, we know that in 1923 the Livadia Palace was visited by 30 thousand people, while nearby Alupka Palace, for example, received only half that number.

A hundred years ago, there were actually two Livadia palaces available for visiting – the Maly or Small wooden palace, which belonged to Alexander III (it was demolished after the Great Patriotic War), and the new Grand White Palace (built on the site of the Bolshoi or Large wooden palace). In the Small Livadia Palace only 3 rooms were open to visitors, while in the new Grand White Palace 10 rooms were open to visitors: 2 downstairs and 8 upstairs. It should be noted, that at this time, the palace-museum would have still been left intact, although it is known that some items were stolen during the Revolution and Civil War.

The museum then was only open to receive visitors four times a week, from 3 pm to 6 pm. And although visitors paid an entrance fee, sometimes the money received was not even enough to cover the salaries of the museum’s few employees.

On 30th April 1918, German troops entered Livadia, and immediately proceeded to plunder the palace.

In 1922, the Museum of the Life of the Romanov Royal Family, opened in Livadia Palace. During the 1920s, the Soviets used Livadia Palace solely for propaganda purposes: the people could see what luxurious interiors the Imperial family lived in, the expensive materials the furniture were made of, thus causing indignation among many.

On 21st December, 1920, Lenin signed a decree according to which “the palaces of the former tsars and grand dukes should be used as sanatoriums and health resorts for workers and peasants.” In 1925, the first sanatorium was opened in Livadia Palace, offering free treatment of peasants.

The Soviet poet Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930), who visited here in 1927, wrote the poem “Miracles”, in which a key line reads: “In the royal palace, now live sanatorium men.”

It was in the same year, that the museum was closed with a sign on the main entrance “closed due to lack of interest among visitors”.

After that, the question arose about the distribution of the contents ​​of the Livadia Palace: they were simply transferred to other Crimean museums. For example, a number of carpets were given to the Palace of the Emir of Bukhara (1880-1914) in Yalta, while other items of decorative, applied and fine arts – to the Alupka Palace and the Kroshitsky Art Museum in Sevastopol. The dolls and toys of the Imperial children were given to orphans, while the curtains which adorned the imperial bedchambers and other rooms of the palace were made into clothes for the poor. Sadly, most of the historical furnishings have been lost, and it was only in the 1990s, that some pieces of the furniture were returned to the palace, and are now part of the museum.

During the Second World War, a ceremony marking the successful completion of the German Crimean Campaign (1941–1942), with the capture of Sevastopol by the German 11th Army under the command of General Erich von Manstein, and Manstein’s promotion to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall (field marshal), was held in the garden of Livadia Palace on 6th July 1942. Participants included officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers who were awarded the German “Ritterkreuz” (Knight’s Cross) and the “Deutsches Kreuz in Gold” (German Cross in Gold).

Some 70 years later, Livadia Palace underwent an extensive restoration and received the status of a state museum. In November 1993, Livadia Palace received the status of a museum. On 16th July 1994, the exposition The Romanovs in Livadia was opened in the former private rooms of the Imperial family on the second floor of the palace.

Today, Livadia Palace is the most popular museum in Crimea. The first floor of the palace-museum is dedicated to the famous Yalta Conference, attended by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, on 4th–11th February 1945.

The permanent exposition dedicated to Nicholas II and his family in Livadia is located on the 2nd floor of the palace, in 16 rooms, each of them featuring original elements and details.

PHOTO: the Emperor’s favourite room – his study

PHOTO: handmade wall carpet gifted to Nicholas II by the Shah of Persia in 1913

PHOTO: very few items from the Tsar’s Study have survived to the present

Visitors can now see the Emperor’s favourite room – his study, the main highlight of which is a handmade wall carpet depicting Nicholas II, Alexandra Feodorovna and Tsesarevich Alexei, a gift to the family in 1913 by Ahmad Shah Qajar of Persia (1898-1930) – in honour of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. After the 1917 Revolution, many items from the palace were stolen, including this carpet, which ended up abroad. In 1983, a collector bought it at an auction in Germany and donated it to the palace 10 years later.

PHOTO: Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s study

Visitors to the study of the Empress, will find a cozy, homely atmosphere as opposed to a work place: for example, family photographs are displayed on the table in frames, a sewing machine is silent in the corner, and Easter decorations with imperial engraving are hung behind the glass of the sideboard.

PHOTO: music room in Livadia Palace

In the music room there is a Becker grand piano, in which the Empress often played with her daughters. Today, performances of the Tauride Blagovest Chamber Choir are held in this room.

In addition, is a small family dining room with authentic dishes and utensils of the Imperial family, a classroom for the grand duchesses, the imperial bedroom, the children’s rooms, a library, among others.

PHOTO: Small Family Dining Room

PHOTO: the former bedroom of the grand duchesses

Museum staff like to draw the attention of visitors to the original pieces which have been preserved to this day, emphasizing their own disbelief at how some of the exhibits managed to survive to this day. For example, the Murano glass chandelier in the waiting room on the 1st floor, which has been hanging there since 1912. Just like the chandelier in the reception room, made of bronze and glass. And also fireplaces, mirrors and pieces of furniture.

PHOTO: an original Murano glass chandelier, 1912

The palace also features a solarium on the roof, where the Imperial family enjoyed the sun and breathtaking views of the Black Sea. A narrow staircase leads to the roof, and in the time of Nicholas II it was possible to reach it by a tiny lift (elevator), which was restored several years ago.

PHOTO: the solarium on the roof of the palace offers views of the Black Sea

Interesting facts about Livadia Palace

It is known that the Imperial family arrived in Livadia with their children on 5th September 1909. It was during this visit, starting from 27th October, that Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna met with the architect Nikolai Petrovich Krasnov (1864-1939), Yalta’s most fashionable architect, on numerous occasions, to discuss in detail the design of their new white palace, and the decoration of its halls and other rooms. The August couple approved the design on 12th December, just 4 days before leaving Livadia for St. Petersburg.

The old wooden Bolshoi or Grand Palace, the residence built in the 1860s for Emperor Alexander II, was demolished in 1910, to make way for a new stone palace, which would serve as the residence of Russia’s last emperor and his family during their visits to Crimea.

The palace was built in a remarkably short time span of 17 months, at a cost of about 4 million gold rubles, paid for by Nicholas II. The palace was inaugurated on 11th September 1911. Some 2,500 workers worked around the clock. At night, the large-scale construction site was illuminated by many torches. After the construction was completed, the walls of the palace were covered with a special chemical composition that protected the stone from weathering and pollution.

A power station was built nearby, generating electricity for the entire estate. The palace also featured two types of heating: fireplaces and central water heating. The palace was also equipped with telephones and a lift for the Empress. It is interesting to note, that it was thanks to a modern system of reinforced concrete ceilings, which prevented the destruction of the palace from a strong earthquake in 1927.

PHOTO: Italian Courtyard

PHOTO: Arab Courtyard

Krasnov had constructed a comfortable, spacious palace. The palace was built in the Italian Renaissance style – the style was personally chosen by Nicholas II. None of the four façades of the palace resembles the other. The new Imperial residence featured 116 rooms, one large courtyard [the Italian Courtyard, where Nicholas II and his family were often photographed] and three small courtyards, as well as a number of outbuildings.

While the palace was built as a summer residence for Nicholas II and his family, they only stayed here four times: twice in the fall – in 1911 and 1913, and twice in the spring – in 1912 and 1914, each time staying for several months at a time. On 12th June 1914, the Imperial family left Livadia, not suspecting that they were saying goodbye to her forever. On 1st August, Germany declared war on Russia.

The Imperial family would arrive on the Imperial Train at Sevastopol, where they boarded the Imperial Yacht Shtandart/Standart, and sailed along the southern coast of Crimea to Yalta, and from there by *motorcar to Livadia. [*The Emperor maintained His Imperial Majesty’s Own Garage at Livadia, one of four in Russia, which housed his collection of motorcars].

Click HERE to VIEW 2 vintage newsreels The Holy Tsar in Russia. Livadia, 1902-1914 – duration: 18 minutes each.

Today, the Livadia Palace and Park ensemble occupies more than 36 hectares, in addition to the Grand White Palace, it includes the Svitsky building, the house of the Minister of the Imperial Court Count Vladimir Frederiks (1838-1927), the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross, and a picturesque park with preserved structures (arbors, fountains) from the tsarist period.

PHOTO: view of the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross (left)

On 2nd November [O.S. 20 October] 1894 – Emperor Alexander III died in the Small Palace. His early death at the age of 49, was the result of terminal kidney disease (nephritis). A requiem was held for the Emperor in the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross.

It was also on this day, that Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandraovich Romanov ascended the throne as Russia’s last emperor and tsar, pledging his oath of allegiance to Russia in the palace church. In addition, the holy righteous John of Kronstadt anointed Princess Alice of Hesse in this church, and thus became the Orthodox faithful Grand Duchess and future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

During his stay in Livadia, in the autumn of 1900, Nicholas II became gravely ill, with what proved to be a rather serious form of typhoid. Despite being pregnant for the fourth time and in a lot of pain, Alexandra nursed him back to health, six months later, in the Spring of 1901.

PHOTO: view of the garden, main facade and entrance to Livadia Palace

The entrance to the summer imperial residence is guarded by two marble lions – although they do not have the traditional lush mane and look more like Egyptian sphinxes. At the main entrance to the palace and in the famous Italian Courtyard, there are white marble benches with winged lions on the armrests. These benches were brought here from Venice. Also, the Istria fireplace was brought from Venice, which is located in the Main lobby of the palace.

Two original sculptures can also be seen in the White Hall. The first is Penelope, the symbol of marital fidelity, the wife of Odysseus. Penelope was purchased by the inhabitants of Odessa as a gift to Empress Maria Alexandrovna (grandmother of Nicholas II), on her first visit to the Livadia estate in 1863. The second figure is a chimera, or satyr, a collective image from antiquity.

The historical park has preserved trees planted more than a century ago. It is decorated with Turkish gazebo, Ruschuk column, marble fountains and benches.

PHOTO: bust-monument of Emperor Nicholas II

PHOTO: monument to Emperor Alexander III, installed on the site of the old Bolshoi Palace

On 19th May 2015, a bust-monument of Emperor Nicholas II was installed at the main entrance to the Livadia Palace. It is made according to the model of the sculptor A. A. Appolonov from artificial stone and bronzed. The pedestal is made of marble.

On 18th November 2017, in the presence of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, a monument to Emperor Alexander III was unveiled in the park of the Livadia Palace – on the site where the Bolshoi or Large wooden palace once stood.

PHOTO: Chapel of the Holy Royal Martyrs

On 22nd September 2013, as part of the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, the Chapel of the Holy Royal Martyrs was consecrated. The chapel which is situated at the entrance to Livadia Palace was erected in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Exaltation of the Cross Church of the Imperial family at Livadia and in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs. A magnificent mosaic tile icon depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs dominates the tiny chapel interior. The chapel is open to all comers, liturgies are held on major Orthodox holidays.

PHOTO: Nicholas II Conference in the White Hall at Livadia Palace, 20-22 October 2019

Between 20-22 October 2019, the international conferenceCrimea and the Fate of the Romanov Dynasty. The Beginning and End of the Reign of Emperor Nicholas II,’ opened in the White Hall of Livadia Palace. The conference was attended by leading Russian historians, publicists, archivists and writers. The objective of the conference was to discuss the truth about the Tsar’s family and the and the achievements that Russia made during the reign of Nicholas II. The international conference was timed to the 125th anniversary of the accession to Orthodoxy of Princess Alix of Hesse-Darmstadt – the future Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and the 100th anniversary of the escape of members of the Russian Imperial House from Crimea. In addition, this year marks 125 years since the death of Emperor Alexander III in Livadia. Crimea played a crucial role in the fate of the Romanovs, who played an important role in the development of the peninsula.

© 25 July 2022. Paul Gilbert

Myrrh-streaming icon of Tsar Nicholas II brought to Ekaterinburg for Tsar’s Days

PHOTO: Alexander Chernavsky carries the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, during the 21-km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

The annual Cross Procession held during Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg on 17th July is known for many miraculous events. It was during this year’s procession, that the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, once again began to stream myrrh. The icon was brought from Moscow, by the head of the Military Orthodox Mission, Alexander Chernavsky, and this miracle was witnessed by the film crew of the Orthodox Soyuz TV channel, headed by correspondent Svetlana Ladina.

“This is the 30th annual Cross Procession in which we are taking part. The icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II has been streaming myrrh since 1998, and today, look, droplets of myrrh on the icon itself and along the frame have appeared like “diamonds”. I think the Sovereign is happy that we are here, and these “diamonds” bless all the participants in the procession. Kiss and pray for the sovereign to open our eyes and heart,” – said Alexander Chernavsky.

The icon of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II was painted in the United States of America even before the sovereign was glorified in Russia by the Moscow Patriarchate. And this event has an amazing story . . .

VIDEO: interview with Alexander Chernavsky, and coverage of the Cross Procession from the Church on the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

The miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

The Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas was commissioned by Ija Schmit (1936-2018), a Russian émigré in the United States, who used money inherited from her mother to have the icon painted in 1996.

Paul Gilbert first met Ija in 1998, when she joined his annual Romanov Tour to Russia, which that year included Moscow and Crimea. Ija was accompanied by her husband Harvey and their daughter Nina. It was during this visit that she told me about this icon, a copy of which she later gifted me.

The icon would be dedicated to the future canonization of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas in Russia[1], and in memory of her mother. After Ija’s initial inspiration to have the icon painted, she contacted iconographer Paul Tikhomirov, himself a Russian immigrant, to see if he was interested in her project. Tikhomirov’s response was, “I will make the icon shine!” They decided to depict Nicholas II in coronation robes [1996 was the 100th anniversary of his coronation in Moscow], with St. Nicholas, his patron saint, and St. Job, on whose feast day Nicholas was born, in the upper right and left hand corners. Below the figures would be printed in Russian, “This Holy Icon is for the Canonization of the Tsar-Martyr in Russia.”

Ija received the finished icon on 12th May 1996 and then traveled to Texas, where it was blessed by Bishop Constantine (Yesensky), an old family friend, who had served as Bishop of Great Britain. The icon, however, was not intended solely for family veneration. Ija and her husband, Harvey Schmit, had already arranged to have paper copies of the icon printed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II on 27th May (O.S. 14th) 1996.

Forty-four thousand copies of the icon were printed. The distribution of the icons [printed in three sizes], was handled by Ija’s own non-profit organization, the Society Honoring Russian Nobility, and income from the icons sold in the West purchased food and medicine for needy pensioners and orphans in Russia. A fourth, smaller version of the icon was printed by the thousands and given away in Russia without charge.

As word of the icon spread, Christians from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and even Serbia, began writing and requesting copies. The Society has met all these requests and distributed more than twenty thousand icons in Russia alone.

PHOTO: Alexander Chernavsky holding the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

On a visit to Russia in late 1996, Father Herman [Ija Schmit’s brother] presented a number of prints to Fr. Juvenaly, the priest at the St. Nicholas Almshouse in Ryazan. On 16th (O.S. 2nd) March 1998 (the anniversary of Tsar Nicholas II’ abdication and the miraculous appearance of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God. Fr. Juvenaly blessed Dr. Oleg Belchenko with one of the prints, which the doctor took with him back to Moscow. The paper icon had been given to him in a glassfronted, three-dimensional wooden icon-case (a kiot) and Dr. Belchenko set it in a prominent place in his Moscow apartment. On 5th September, Dr. Belchenko noticed that a red spot had appeared over the right eyelid of the Tsar. The following day a second red spot appeared over the left eye. Dr. Belchenko first compared the icon with a smaller print to be sure that he had simply overlooked the distinctive marks. The smaller icon did not match. Dr. Belchenko then called Sretensky Monastery of the Meeting of the Lord to ask what he should do. The monks asked him to bring the icon of Tsar Nicholas to the monastery the following morning. Dr.Belchenko arrived early and stood through the liturgy holding the icon in a plastic bag at his side. At the end of the liturgy a moleben and blessing of the waters was held. The officiating priest recognized Dr. Belchenko, and knowing that he had come with the icon, had the choir sing a troparion for Tsar-Martyr Nicholas. Following the troparion, Dr. Belchenko noticed one of the parishioners staring at him. Finally, the man approached and asked, “What is that fragrance?” Dr. Belchenko replied: “You are probably smelling incense – I am sorry, I can’t smell anything myself because I have a cold.” The man persisted: “No. I tell you, the fragrance is coming from somewhere around you… the smell is much more refined than incense.” Dr. Belchenko replied impatiently, “You should be ashamed of talking such nonsense while the service is going on!” The man moved away embarrassed, but within a few moments other worshippers filtered over, curious about the fragrance and asking what was in the package. “Nothing, only an icon,” he replied. “Show it to us.” As Dr. Belchenko opened the package and took out the icon, the remarkable scent filled the church.

The icon of Tsar Nicholas II was displayed for veneration in the monastery church for three weeks. After Dr. Belchenko took it home, the fragrance continued to a lesser degree, and as word began to spread, Muscovites increasingly asked to come to his apartment to venerate the icon. Dr. Belchenko felt that his home was too small to accommodate many visitors, so he asked an Orthodox friend, Alla Dyakova, to keep the icon in her flat, where those who wished could venerate it. When asked how he was able relinquish such a treasure, Dr. Belchenko answered, “The icon is not mine. It belongs to all Russians.”

On 19th October, Alla Dyakova and Fr. Peter Vlashchenko, a married priest from the Ivanovo region, took the icon to Elder Kyril of St. Sergius Lavra, who was in Peredelkino, outside Moscow. Elder Kyril venerated the icon and blessed Fr. Peter and Alla with the words, “Go. Take the icon to whomever asks for it.”

On 1st November, the icon was brought to the Martha-Mary Convent in Moscow, founded by Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the sister- in-law of Tsar Nicholas II and herself a new-martyr. The day not only marked the birthday of Elizabeth, but the anniversary of Tsar Nicholas’ assuming the throne at his father’s death in 1894. The icon of Tsar Nicholas was placed on the analogion next to an icon of Grand Duchess Elizabeth. Throughout the Divine Liturgy the icon of the Tsar poured forth waves of fragrance, filling the chapel.

It is worth mentioning that the popular veneration of the Tsar-Martyr played an important role in the canonization of the Imperial Family at the Jubilee Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000 among the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.

In August 2000, the Russian Church met at a synod in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Moscow. Amongst the things discussed was the issue of canonization. The eagerly-awaited news finally escaped the cathedral’s walls to the faithful gathered outside: Tsar Nicholas II and his family were now recognized as Saints! The date of their martyrdom was now recorded in Orthodox calendars around the world as their feast day. It is certain that influential in this decision were two paper icons of the martyrs, both of which exuded sweet-smelling myrrh and so revealed those Saints to be themselves “a sweet aroma of Christ unto God” (2 Cor 2:15).

The keeper of the miraculous image, the Moscow surgeon Oleg Ivanovich Belchenko, has travelled around Russia for many years, bringing the icon to to churches and monasteries arousing veneration of the Holy Royal Martyrs wherever it went through its aromatic myrrh. Many Orthodox Christians believe that their prayers have been answered by God through the intercession of the Tsar and his family.

Lately, due to his age, Oleg has handed over this honourary mission to Alexander Fedorovich Chernavsky, a publicist, head of the Orthodox Mission for the Revival of the Spiritual Values of the Russian People. The Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar Nicholas II, appears with the same unpretentious simplicity with which the late Tsar laid down his throne and bore his final months of house arrest before his death and martyrdom.

Holy Tsar Martyr Nicholas II, Pray to God for Us! 


[1] The desire of many Russian Orthodox Christians for the canonization of Tsar Nicholas and his family does not stem from a belief that their personal lives were blameless, although from historical accounts and the family’s own letters it is obvious that they were Christians of great integrity. The widespread desire for the family’s canonization is based on the fact that Tsar Nicholas and his family were murdered as a result of his position as the sacramentally anointed Orthodox monarch of Russia.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 July 2022

Night Liturgy at Tsarskoye Selo, 16/17 July 2022

PHOTO: the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo

On the night of 16/17 July, a solemn Divine Liturgy was held in the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo, in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs who were murdered that same date in 1918, in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg.

A large number of worshipers gathered for the Divine Litury, led by the rector of the cathedral, Father Herman Ranne, co-served by the clergy of the cathedral.

Every year on this day, people from Pushkin [Tsarskoye Selo], St. Petersburg and other towns, come to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral to prayerfully honour the memory of the last Russian emperor and his family.

Following the Divine Liturgy, a Cross Procession was held around the cathedral.

A brief history of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral

On 2nd September (O.S. 20th August) 1909, Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II laid the first foundation stone for the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral in Tsarskoye Selo, which became the house church of the Imperial Family, while they were in residence in the nearby Alexander Palace.

A solemn Divine Liturgy was performed by His Grace Theophan, Bishop of Yamburg (1872-1940), attended by the Emperor and members of his family. The cathedral was built in the old Russian style. Three years later, on the same day in 1912, the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was consecrated.

The Cave Church, situated in the Lower Church, where the Imperial Family came to pray, was consecrated in memory of St. Seraphim of Sarov (there was a special “royal room” in the church), and the upper church was consecrated in memory of the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God, the patron icon of the Romanov family. During the days of Great Lent, the Emperor remained to pray in the church until late at night.

After the revolution, the cathedral was closed, it was badly damaged during the Great Patriotic War. In 1991 the cathedral was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, restoration of the Cathedral lasted nearly 20 years.. Russia’s first monument to Nicholas II was established on the grounds of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral in 1993.

Click HERE to view more colour photos of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral, during a visit by a modern-day group of Cossacks in January 2020

PHOTO: worshipers gather at the monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, located in the garden behind the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral

First monument to Nicholas II in Post-Soviet Russia

Situated in the garden behind the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo, is the monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, created by the St. Petersburg sculptor Victor Vladimirovich Zaiko (born 1944).

Erected and consecrated on 17th July 1993, it was the first monument to Nicholas II to be erected in Post-Soviet Russia.

The monument stands in front of a small group of oak trees, seen in the background, which were planted by Nicholas II and his family on 4 May (O.S. 21 April) 1913. Of the seven trees planted, only four have survived to the present day.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 July 2022

Divine Liturgy 16th July 2022, Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

On 16/17 July – the eve marking the 104th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers, commemorative services were held in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg and in the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

PHOTO: icon of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, Lower Church

PHOTO: pilgrims attend vespers in the Lower Church

PHOTO: view of the Imperial Room (above and below), Lower Church

On the afternoon of 16th July, small vespers with an akathist to the holy Royal Passion-Bearers were performed by the archpastors of the Russian Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Vincent of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, in the lower church of the Church on the Blood.

On the night of 16th July, an all night vigil was held on the square in front of the Church on the Blood. An estimated 46,000 Orthodox pilgrims took part in the Divine Liturgy, followed by a Cross Procession to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

The Divine Liturgy began at 23:30, and was broadcast live across Russia by the Orthodox TV channel Soyuz, and available to watch on the YouTube channel and on the website of the Soyuz TV channel.

PHOTO: pilgrims gather on the night of 16th July on the square in front of the Church on the Blood

The Divine Liturgy was led by nine bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye; Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent and Uzbekistan; Metropolitan Alexy of Chelyabinsk and Mias; Archbishop Nikolay of Salekhard and Novo-Urengoysk; Bishop Feodosy of Isikul and Russko-Polyansk, Bishop Theodosius of Nizhny Tagil, Bishop Methodius of Kamensk and Kamyshlov, Bishop Vladimir of Shadrinsk and Dalmatov, Bishop Vikenty of Zlatoust and Satka. The archpastors were co-served by the clergy of the Yekaterinburg Diocese.

Special guests at this years’ Divine Liturgy included: governor of the Sverdlovsk region Yevgeny Vladimirovich Kuyvashev, and historian and writer Pyotr Valentinovich Multatuli, the great-grandson of Ivan Kharitonov (1872-1918), who served as the Head Cook of the Imperial family. 

“I consider the story of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in Ekaterinburg, an important part of Ural history, Ural self-consciousness – this tragic page in history will forever remain with us, many future generations will have to remember this and repent of this sin,” – said Kuyvashev.

PHOTO: the miraculous Myrrh-Streaming Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

PHOTO: the Divine Liturgy was led by nine bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church

The expedition commander of the International Space Station, Oleg Artemiev, delivered a message of congratulation to those participanting in Tsar’s Days: “I want to convey to the parishioners and pilgrims of the Church on the Blood my warmest congratulations on the Tsar’s Days, and to all Ekaterinburg residents on the upcoming 300th anniversary of the city of St. Catherine, which, God willing, we will celebrate together in 2023″.

PHOTO: an estimated 46,000 pilgrims took part in this year’s 21-km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martytrs at Ganina Yama

PHOTO: the procession nears the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

Following the Divine Liturgy, at about three o’clock in the morning, the combined choirs of the Ekaterinburg Diocese began to sing God Save the Tsar!, they were enthusiastically joined by the tens of thousands of pilgrims on the square.

It was at this point, that the pilgrims assembled for the 21-km [13 miles] Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. The route of the this years procession remained unchanged from previous years, passing along the same route that the regicides transported the bodies of members of the Imperial family in 1918.

Foreign vistors from the USA, Germany, Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltic countries, Uzbekistan and other countries also took part in this year’s Cross Procession. The column of pilgrims stretched along the road for kilometers. The procession was surrounded by police officers, 12 streets in the city center were closed. The pilgrims were accompanied by 10 mobile help groups of the Orthodox Mercy Service and volunteers of the Tsar’s Days.

PHOTO: pilgrims arriving at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs

PHOTO: pilgrims line the the wooden causeway which surrounds the abandoned mine shaft at Ganina Yama, reflecting on the crime which took place here on 17th July 1918

PHOTO: pilgrims pray at a tall Orthodox cross, which marks the edge of the mine shaft, where the regicides threw the remains of Tsar Nicholas II and his family

The first pilgrims of the Cross Procession began to arrive at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at about 7:00 a.m. The brethren of the monastery greeted the pilgrims with the ringing of bells. Upon arrival at the monastery, a Divine Liturgy was performed at the tall Orthodox cross located on the edge of Mine No. 7, where the bodies of members of the Imperial family and their faithful servants were thrown by the regicides. The Divine Liturgy was led by Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent, Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg, Archbishop Nicholas of Salekhard, Bishop Theodosius of Isilkul, and Bishop Theodosius of Nizhny Tagil. At the end of the service, Bishop Vincent and Bishop Eugene heartily thanked all the participants in the procession for their spiritual achievement.

After the prayer service, all the pilgrims were offered a hearty meal of buckwheat porridge, bread and tea, prepared by volunteers in the field kitchen. Drinking water was freely available for everyone, and a first-aid post was available. Many pilgrims sought rest under the shade of trees. A fleet of 17 buses provided by the UMMC and the regional Ministry of Transport, offered FREE transport for pilgrims to Ekaterinburg and Sredneuralsk.

© 19 July 2022. Paul Gilbert

What is Tsar’s Days?

Tsar’s Days before the 1917 Revolution

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg. Tsar’s Days in Russia actually began during the Tsarist era, however, it was banned during the Soviet years. It was restored in Ekaterinburg in 2002, to mark the deaths and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his family on 17th July 1918.

The Tsar’s Days were divided into two groups – solemn and high solemn days.

The first group included the coronation, accession to the throne, birthdays, as well as the namesake [see below] of the emperor, empress-mother, empress-wife, and the heir to the throne. The second group included birthdays and namesakes of other members of the Imperial Family.

  • A namesake consists of celebrating a day of the year that is associated with one’s given name. The celebration is similar to a birthday. Russians celebrate name days [именины in Russian] separately from birthdays. Such a celebration begins with attendance at the divine services marking that day [in the Russian tradition, the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy], and usually with a festive party thereafter. Before the October Revolution of 1917, Russians regarded name days as important as, or more important than, the celebration of birthdays, based on the rationale that one’s baptism is the event by which people become “born anew” in Christ. The Russian Imperial family followed a tradition of giving name-day gifts, such as a diamond or a pearl.

On high solemn days, special prayers were held in churches: on birthdays, a general thanksgiving service was performed, and on the day of the namesake, a prayer service to the saint of the same name [i.e. Nicholas II + Saint Nicholas of Myra]. On the day of the accession to the throne of the sovereign-emperor and his coronation, prayers were served for a special rite.

The solemn days, were postponed until the following Sunday. If the solemn day fell on the first week of Great Lent , it was postponed to the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. If it fell during Holy Week (the last week of Great Lent) or the first day of the celebration of Easter, the solemn day was postponed to Monday of Bright Week.

On 7th March 1917, the Holy Synod, in response to the February Revolution, began to call the “reigning” House of Romanov in the past tense and abolished “Tsar’s Days”. The corresponding decree of the Provisional Government appeared on 16th March of the same year.

Below, is a list of the four high solemn days celebrated for Nicholas II in 1913 [dates are noted in the Old Style Julian Calendar]:

May 6 – Birth of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich ;
May 14 – Sacred Crowning of Their Imperial Majesties;
October 20 – Accession to the throne of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich;
December 6 – Namesake of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich.

Tsar’s Days in Post-Soviet Russia

In the 21st century, Tsar Days have taken on a whole new meaning. The annual holidays are held in mid-July in the Ekaterinburg diocese, during which divine services are held, a cross procession in memory of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, as well as a festival of Orthodox culture, including exhibitions and other social events.

The name is taken from the pre-revolutionary Tsar’s Days, timed to coincide with the anniversaries of solemn events in the lives of members of the Romanov Dynasty. The dates of the modern Tsar’s Days are timed to the dates of 21st July 1613 – the day of the anointing of the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty, Mikhail Fedorovich, and 17th July 1918 – the day of the brutal murders of the last Emperor of Russia Nicholas II and his family, in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg and 18th July – the day of the murders of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Princes of the Imperial Blood Ioann, Konstantin and Igor Konstantinovich, Prince Vladimir Paley (son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich) in Alapaevsk.


As part of the Tsar’s Days, an all-night vigil is held in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, which includes a Divine Liturgy followed by a Cross Procession. The Tsar’s Days Festival celebrates Orthodox culture in the Ekaterinburg Diocese. Dozens of religious and secular public events dedicated to the tsarist theme are held, including exhibitions, concerts, conferences and other events.

Some of the city’s museums and churches become venues for exhibitions dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II, his family and other members of the Romanov dynasty, who were murdered in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk.

The main event, for which Orthodox pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg, is the solemn divine liturgy, which takes place on the night of the murder of the Holy Royal Murders – 16/17 July, in the Church on the Blood. At the end of the Liturgy, tens of thousands of pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama.

Pilgrims from other cities in Russia organize pilgrimages from their cities to Ekaterinburg to participate in the Tsar’s Days. A growing number of Russian cities [i.e. St. Petersburg, Kazan, etc.] are today organizing their own Tsar’s Days events, but on a much smaller scale than that of Ekaterinburg.

PHOTO: His Holiness Patriarch Kirill delivers a Divine Liturgy outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July 2018 (above); His Holiness Patriarch Kirill leads the 21 km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama (below)

100th anniversary of the death of members of the Romanov family

In 2018, the Tsar’s days in the Ekaterinburg Diocese were timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of members of the Romanov family in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk. The centenary celebrations also included the XVII Tsar’s Days Festival of Orthodox Culture, a five-day visit by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a meeting of the Holy Synod.

The first procession in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, headed by Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill, took place in 2002, in which more than 2 thousand pilgrims and about 100 clerics participated. In 2012, for the first time since the construction of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, an all-night vigil and Divine Liturgy were performed in the open air.

In 2017 they estimated crowds of up to 60,000 people. In 2019, 60 thousand participated, and in 2020, 10 thousand people [due to COVID]. In addition, up to 2 thousand people gathered an alternative religious procession of the schismatic and tsarist monk Sergius (Romanov) in the Sredneuralsky Nunnery.

In 2018, more than 100,000 Orthodox Christians, monarchists, among others from across Russia and around the world took part in the Patriarchal Liturgy and procession of the cross from the Church on the Blood to the Ganina Yama.

The events marking Tsar’s Days in 2018, fell on the tail end of the 2018 Football World Cup which was held in Ekaterinburg that year. It was estimated that as many as 200,000 people flocked to the city to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the regicide, undoubtedly the largest public demonstration yet of the growing significance of the Russia’s last emperor and tsar in the cultural, historical and spiritual life of modern-day Russia.

*NOTE: due to the fact the Moscow Patriachate does not yet recognize the Ekaterinburg remains as authentic, the Cross Procession does not stop at Porosenkov Log, where the remains of the Imperial family were unearthed in two separate graves in the late 1970s and 2007 – PG

*  *  *

On 17th July 2018, independent researcher and writer Paul Gilbert travelled to Ekaterinburg, to take part in the events marking the 100th anniversary of the Tsar’s death and martyrdom.

In his own words and photographs, the author shares his experiences and impressions of this historic event, which include visits to the Church on the Blood, Ganina Yama, Porosenkov Log, the Patriarchal Liturgy, exhibitions, and much more.

Available in both hardcover and paperback editions. 152 pages. Nearly 200 COLOUR photos – many of them taken by me, during my visit to Ekaterinburg in July 2018. Click HERE to order your copy

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2022

Prayer to the Holy Martyred Tsar Nicholas II

The night of 16/17 July 1918, marks the eve of the 104th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia Nikolaevna and Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich.

Please remember to light a candle this evening in honour of their memory . . .

Prayer to the Holy Martyred Tsar Nicholas II

O holy martyred Tsar and passion-bearer Nicholas, the Lord chose thee as His anointed to be the preserver of the Orthodox realm and to judge thy people with mercy and justice.

And with the fear of God thou didst accomplish royal ministry and show care for souls.

And testing thee, like gold in a crucible, the Lord permitted bitter tribulations to assail thee, like Job the much-suffering, and afterwards He sent upon thee the deprivation of thy royal throne and a martyr’s death.

And all these didst thou meekly endure, as a true servant of Christ, and thou dost now delight in the glory which is on high at the throne of the King of all, together with the holy martyrs: the holy Tsaritsa Alexandra, the holy youth the Tsarevich Alexis, the holy Tsarevnas Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and thy faithful servants, as well as the holy martyred Princess Elizabeth and all the royal martyrs and the holy martyr Barbara.

But as thou hast great boldness before Christ the King, for Whose sake ye all suffered, pray with them, that the Lord forgive the sins of the people which did not hinder the murder of thee, the Tsar and anointed of God, that the Lord deliver the suffering land of Russia from the cruel godless ones who have been permitted to torment us for our sins and falling away from God, and that He restore the throne of Orthodox kings and grant us remission of sins, and instruct us in all the virtues, that we may acquire meekness, humility and love, which these holy martyrs showed forth, that we may be accounted worthy of the heavenly Kingdom, where with thee and all the holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia, we may glorify the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.


Holy Royal Martyrs
Tsar Nicholas II and Family
Pray Unto God For Us!
Glory Be To God For All Things!

© Paul Gilbert. 16 July 2022

Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko 1970-2014

PHOTO: Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko (1970-2014)

On this day – 16th July 2014 – the great Orthodox artist Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko died in Moscow, at the age of only 44.

Russia’s hugely popular Christian, patriotic, monarchist painter Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko created more than 60 paintings depicting scenes from Imperial Russian history, particularly from the era of the Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II. Large-scale exhibits of his works have been held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Kostroma among other Russian cities.

Pavel Ryzhenko was born at Kaluga, Russia on 11 June 1970. In 1982 he entered the Moscow Art School at the Surikov Institute. In 1990 he entered the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied in the historical and religious workshop of Professor Ilya Glazunov. From 1999, he taught at the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 2007, Pavel began working at the Ryzhenko Military Artists Studio, where he became one of the leading masters of diorama-panoramic art (during his life, he painted six large-scale dioramas). In 2012 Ryzhenko was awarded the title “Honored Artist of the Russian Federation.”

Sadly, Ryzhenko died on 16 July 2014. The famed Orthodox artist died, on the eve of the day of remembrance of the death and martyrdom of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and just 5 days before his 44th birthday, the cause of death was a stroke.

Pavel Ryzhenko’s early death was a tremendous loss to Russia’s artistic and spiritual communities.

PHOTO: Pavel Ryzhenko’s grave in Zhdamirovskom Cemetery, Zhdamirovo

A memorial service for Pavel Ryzhenko was held on Sunday 22 July 2014 in the Church of All Saints in the village of Krasnoselsky District, Moscow. The funeral was held on the same day in Kaluga, followed by his burial at the Zhdamirovskom Cemetery, in the village of Zhdamirovo.

I had the great honour of attending an exhibition of his works during my first visit to Ekaterinburg in 2012. The exhibition was held in the Patriarchal Compound, which is situated across from the Church on the Blood.

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!

Below, are six of Ryzhenko’s canvases, in which the Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II is depicted:

The Farewell of the Tsar to His Troops: From the Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”. 2004

Wounded, the last Tsar on an inspection of a military hospital near the front in World War I

Imprisoned at Tsarkoye Selo: From the Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”. 2004

The Ipatiev House. The Morning After: From the Triptych “Imperial Golgotha”. 2004

A Photograph in Remembrance: From the Triptych “A Russian Century”. 2007

The Birth of Russian Aviation. 2007

To view Ryzhenko’s complete works of historical realism, please click HERE to visit his official web site.

© Paul Gilbert. 16 July 2021

In Memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs

Holy Royal Martyrs, pray to God for us! 🙏
Святы Царственные мученики, молите Бога о нас! 🙏

During this month, in which we sadly recall the regicide at Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918, we also continue to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs throughout the year.

I am dedicated to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar. I devote many hours, researching new works from Russian media and archival sources, and have them translated to English. These documents help to challenge and dismiss the many lies and myths about Russia’s last Tsar, which have have endured for more than a century.

Translating news and articles to English is very costly, therefore, I am reaching out to you for assistance, by making a donation to my work. Thank you for your consideration.


© Paul Gilbert. 14 July 2022