PHOTO: Metropolitan Evgeny of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye
During an interview on 10th July, Metropolitan Evgeny of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye spoke about the spiritual significance of the 30th anniversary of Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg.
“People of all faiths and nationalities come to the Urals to honour the memory of the Imperial Family. Why? Because they understand that the events which took place in Ekaterinburg in 1918, changed the history of the entire world. They also understand that the personality of Emperor Nicholas II was so significant that people want to know more about his life and reign, get closer to him, to draw from this historical and cultural well, draw living water, touch this beautiful family,” said Metropolitan Evgeny.
“And, of course, for believers, this is a particularly significant event, because the Imperial family is a holy family. And to turn to them, especially in these dark days, when we see that again, like a hundred years ago, the destinies of the world are being redrawn – this is very important. We pay serious attention to the preparation of this festival and hope that every person who has visited our region, who comes to our city during Tsar’s Days, will find what they are looking for.”
Vladyka also spoke about a free mobile application that allows pilgrims to keep track of daily event in the festival program.
“This is an application in which we publish the entire schedule of events, as well as important information for pilgrims during Tsar’s Days. It details dates and times of cultural events, church service, as well as detailed information for those who wish to participate in the Cross Procession, which, according to tradition, will take place on the night of July 16-17, from the Church on the Blood, along the streets of Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.
“In addition is the historical forum, which which will take place on 16th July, in the Patriarchal Compound adjacent to the Church on the Blood. This can also be found in the application.”
Can you tell us about both the first White Flower Festival and the planting of Lilac Alley at Ganina Yama. Are we seeing the birth of some new tradition? Or is it a special preparation?
“One beautiful tradition succeeds another. The exhibition of ice sculptures has already become traditional, which takes place around Orthodox Christmas in January, near the Church on the Blood and decorates our city for almost the entire winter. The White Flower Festival is a tradition which was founded by the Imperial Family in the early 20th century. This year it has taken on a special scale, with the addition of the White Flower Festival, which showcases beautiful floral arrangements. They have already attracted the interest of many residents of the city, and became a highlight of the month of June.
“I believe that as these beautiful flowers continue to bloom and grow, so will this new tradition also grow, and that it will be a welcome addition to the framework of the Tsar’s Days Festival. I believe that the flowers and the number of compositions will increase from year to year. And, of course, the flowers and ice compositions, will be beautiful reminders to both residents and visitors, of the Holy Royal Martyrs, for whom we honour.”
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. There have already been many exhibitions marking this historic anniversary.
“Yes, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was a remarkable woman. A devoted wife and mother. Today, we can learn how our modern day families can learn from the examples set by Alexandra Fedorovna. And we are trying in the year of the 150th anniversary of her birth (she did not live to experience her 50th anniversary), to somehow compensate for this, learn from her and bring some light from the holy family to our contemporaries.”
Every year we try to remember the servants of the Tsar, who also endured the same fate and martyrdom. How will they be honoured this year?
“Last month, we opened a monument dedicated to four faithful servants to Nicholas II, on the grounds of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent. When the Imperial family were arrested, everyone was free to pack their things and return home, to their relatives, or to leave the country. Instead, they followed their personal oath that was given them, a sense of duty and remained with the Family. While many retainers followed the Imperial family into exile to Tobolsk, very few of them followed them further when the family was transfered to Ekaterinburg. We remember and honour the faithful generals, sailors, among others who died together with the Tsar’s family in the basement of the Ipatiev House, as well as those who were excommunicated from their families, and those shot in other places of our city and region.
“When we understand that such people lived in our country, in our history, they set examples on how we can follow their examples of faith and duty. We can encourage our children to strive to be like them. When we learn about them, we can then appreciate and understand the amazing lives and fates of those people who remained faithful to the end.”
There is an interesting story connected with this monument. Is it true, that the sisters of the convent created the sketch for it?
“Yes. The sisters of the convent created a sketch for this monument. The beauty which we see today, within the walls of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, include beautiful architecure, landscaping which includes newly planted flowers and trees – this is the inner beauty in which the sisters of the convent live and which they embody around themselves. Orthodox Christians and other visitors can experience this wonderful world, this ray of light which comes from the kingdom of heaven to us here on earth. It is very beautiful.”
“Praying is always important. And why is it especially important at this time of year?
“When some kind of danger, illness, or trouble comes into our lives and a person feels helpless, the impossibility of humanly changing the situation for the better, they then turn to God.
“I myself am a witness to this, and I know that a lot of the people who make the Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama on the night of July 16-17, it is clear that they are not just walking, they are also praying. And these prayers, according to the testimonies of these pilgrims, they very clearly, distinctly reach the one to whom they are addressed and return with special events, positive events in their lives. And in this regard, of course, I would urge and invite residents of the city and region, to come and pray for our Motherland, to pray for our country. God is able to fulfill our prayers, so I invite you to get together and make such a prayer feat.”
© Paul Gilbert. 14 July 2022