150th Anniversary of Nicholas II’s Birth Marked by Divine Liturgy in Ekaterinburg

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Bishop’s gather for a Divine Liturgy in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 19 May 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

On 19th May 2018, on the day marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, a festive Bishop’s Divine Liturgy was held in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg.

The Divine Liturgy was headed by the Metropolitan of Pereleimon (Greek Orthodox Church), Metropolitan of Pereleimon (Greek Orthodox Church), and also by the bishops of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis: Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, Bishop Mefody of Bishop of Kamen and Alapayev, Bishop of Nizhny Tagil and Nevyansky Eugene, Bishop of Serov and Krasnoturinsky Alexis. The Most Reverend Bishops were served by numerous clergy of the Ekaterinburg Diocese.

Metropolitan Petyeleimon of Berea arrived in the Ekaterinburg Diocese from Greece, specially to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Emperor. Prayers and hymns in Greek were heard during the service.

Hymns for worship were performed by the choir of the Sretensky Monastery, who travelled from Moscow to the Ural capital to pay tribute to the memory of the Holy Tsar-Martyr.

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Participants of a public forum dedicated to Nicholas II, held in the Cosmos Theater also took part in the Divine Liturgy, including the famous historian and author Petr Valentinovich Multatuli, representative of the Russian Academy of Sciences historian Vladimir Mikhailovich Lavrov, among others.

A sacramental verse, a sermon about the holy Tsar-Passion-Bearer was read by senior priest of the Church on the Blood, Protopriest Maxim Miniyailo. Fr Maxim noted that the birthday of the sovereign, which was always a public holiday in the Russian Empire. He spoke about the personality of the sovereign himself, reminding the Faithful that Nicholas II was “our Heavenly patron and an example to each of us in faith, in service to the Lord and Fatherland , in relation to his family and neighbor, on the anniversary of the Sovereign as an occasion to think about salvation.”

The number of parishioners in attendance at the Divine Liturgy filled the Church on the Blood to capacity, with the number of faithful spilling out onto the church’s porch, and into the street.

Vladyka Metropolitan congratulated everyone on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Emperor, thanking those who travelled to Ekaterinburg to pay tribute to the memory of the Holy Tsar Martyr, including guests from Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria; thanked the bishop of Vera Panteleimon; thanked the Sretensky Choir for the wonderful concert that took place the day before, and for today’s participation in the Diving Liturgy.

© Paul Gilbert. 10 December 2019

Princess Hisako Takamado visits Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

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Princess Hisako Takamado standing outside the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 23 June 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

On 23rd June 2018, Japanese *Princess Hisako Takamado visited the Church on the Blood and the Tsarsky Spiritual and Educational Center during her official visit to Ekaterinburg. She is the first member of Japan’s Imperial family to visit Russia since 1916, the Kyodo news agency reported.

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Princess Hisako was shown the renewed Imperial Room in the Lower Church

Her Highness was given a tour of the church, where she was told the story of the Imperial family’s last days in the city in 1918. Princess Hisako was shown the renewed Imperial Room in the Lower Church – altar chapel in honour of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, built on the site of the room where Emperor Nicholas II and his family were all murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918. Special attention was drawn to the unique mosaic panel in the central part of the altar, depicting the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers and their faithful retainers who suffered with them: Emperor Nikolai Alexandrovich, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatyana, Maria, Anastasia, Saint Eugene Botkin, Alexei Trupp, Ivan Kharitonov, and Anna Demidova. The altar is adorned to the memorable date of the century of the feat of the Royal Family with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye.

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Her Highness visited the upper church in the name of All Saints in the Russian Land

After viewing the exhibition dedicated to the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers and the Alapaevsk martyrs – Saint Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and the nun Varvara, Her Highness visited the upper church in the name of All Saints in the Russian Land. Here Princess Hisako, delighted with decoration of the cathedral, took up her camera, taking pictures of the vault and frescoes, on which the scenes of the life of the Passion-Bearer Tsar and his family are depicted.

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Princess Hisako inside the Patriarchal Compound

Her Highness and her entourage then visited the Patriarchal Compound on the opposite side of the courtyard. Here, she visited the Tsarsky Spiritual and Educational Center, the Museum of the Holy Royal Martyrs, the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, the exhibition of the Ural artists Alexei Efremov and Alexander Remezov. Her Highness also took great interest in the legendary grand piano of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, which she took with her when the Imperial family had gone into exile.

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Princess Hisako visits the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

At the end of the visit, Her Highness signed the Visitors’ Book, thanking her hosts for the inspirational journey through Russian history and noting the great importance of the preservation of the heritage of churches in the Urals.

Upon leaving the Patriarchal Compound, the Japanese princess thanked the representatives of the Ekaterinburg Diocese for their warm welcome, and speaking in Russian with special cordiality, she said: “This is a special place.”

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Her Highness visits the Museum of the Holy Royal Martyrs

Princess Hisako Takamado of Japan arrived in the Ural capital on 22nd June. During her stay, she plans to attend a FIFA match between Japan and Senegal, which will be held on 24th June.

*Born on 10 July 1953, Princess Hisako Takamado is a member of the Japanese Imperial Family as the widow of Norihito, Prince Takamado (1954-2002). Prince Takamado was the third son of Takahito, Prince Mikasa and Yuriko, Princess Mikasa. He was a first cousin of Emperor Akihito, and was seventh in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

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Princess Hisako stops to take a photo after leaving the Patriarchal Compound

© Paul Gilbert. 8 December 2019

More than 100,000 participate in Liturgy, all-night procession for 100th anniversary of Holy Royal Martyrs

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View of the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 2018

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 25 July 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

In 2018, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated the centenary of the martyrdom of the last Imperial family of Russia with numerous events held throughout Russia, with the celebrations culminating in a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Ekaterinburg and all-night cross procession in their honor.

On the night of 16/17 July 2018, more than 100,000 Orthodox Christians, monarchists, among others gathered in Ekaterinburg for the liturgical celebrations. The faithful came from all corners of Russia and around the world, including Azerbaijan, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, USA, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, France, Estonia, South Korea, and Japan.

The first Tsar’s Days procession took place in 1992, with the participation of but a few dozen faithful.

The event began with the Divine Liturgy celebrated on the square in front of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, built on the site where the Ipatiev House once stood, where the family was murdered. The service was headed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill with more than 35 hierarchs and multiple clergy concelebrating.

The entire service was broadcast live on the Orthodox TV station “Union:”

A special platform was erected for the Liturgy in front of the gates of the lower church, where the “Imperial Room” is located—a chapel in honor of the Royal Martyrs, built on specific site of their martyrdom.

Following the Liturgy, the patriarch led the traditional Royal Cross Procession from the place of martyrdom of the holy Royal Martyrs and their servants to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama ravine, covering a distance of 21 km (13 miles).

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His Holiness leads the Cross Procession to Ganina Yama

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The Cross Procession nears the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

According to law enforcement agencies, more than 100,000 took part in the procession.

According to tradition, the faithful carried banners and icons in the procession, including a 6.5-ft. icon of the Tsar-Martyr, painted in 2017 for the Church of the “Reigning” Icon of the Mother of God at Ganina Yama. Together with the kiot, the icon weighs 330 lbs. A special bier on wheels was made to move the heavy icon.

The procession was also accompanied by 25 mobile groups from an Orthodox charity service, consisting of clergy, representatives of the Dormition Orthodox Brotherhood of Ekaterinburg, sisters of mercy, and volunteers, who provided assistance to those who could not walk the entire route of the procession. Field kitchens and tests were also set up at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs for the pilgrims to rest.

His Holiness and the procession arrived at the monastery in the morning, where the patriarch served a moleben to the Royal Martyrs in front of the memorial cross erected at Mine #7, where the bodies of the Royal Martyrs were abused and disposed of. His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) thus referred to Ganina Yama as “a living antimens, permeated with particles of the burnt holy relics.”

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His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

His Holiness then addressed the sea of faithful with a primatial word:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Your Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine! Fellow archpastors! Dear brothers and sisters, gathered in a multitude this night before the place where one hundred years ago was committed a terrible crime—wholly innocent people, who had committed their lives to the service of their Motherland, were killed by the evil will of man!

This atrocity still chafes our conscience, still causes us to mentally return to that time and try to understand what happened to our country and to our people. Where did this insanity, this attack come from? Looking from a distance of one hundred years, even if we want to we cannot see all the nuances of the national life of our people, which fade from memory and are missed by even the most penetrating gaze. But such crimes, as were committed here, cannot be accidental. Something stood behind this crime; behind it is the collective guilt of our people, a turn in the historical life of Holy Rus’, which led the people into a heavy, terrible impasse.

What happened to our people? After all, the country was covered with churches and monasteries, an absolute majority of the people were baptized, and the churches were filled with people. Why did it happen? Why did the murderers squeeze the trigger, without trembling at what they were doing? It means not everything was favorable. It means the sunlight reflected in the gilded domes was not always refracted into human hearts to strengthen faith in the Lord in them. And we know how over the course of at least 200 years preceding the tragedy of the Ipatiev House some changes occurred in the people’s consciousness that gradually but steadily led many to a departure from God, neglect of the commandments, and a loss of spiritual connection with the Church and the centuries-old spiritual tradition.

Why did this happen to our people? Why did they at some point become like a train whose engineer didn’t calculate its speed and heads into a steep turn, rushing towards an imminent catastrophe? When did we as people start this turn? We entered when alien thoughts, alien ideals, and an alien worldview, formed under the influence of philosophical and political theories, having nothing in common either with Christianity or our national tradition and culture, began to be perceived by the intelligentsia and aristocracy and even part of the clergy as advanced thoughts by which it was possible to change the people’s lives for the better.

Indeed, the idea of changing the life of the people for the better arises whenever there is a plan to abruptly change the course of history. We know that the worst and bloodiest revolutions have always occurred in view of people’s aspirations for a better life. The leaders of these revolutions instilled in the people that there is no other way to make life better—only by blood, only through death, only through the destruction of the existing way of life. And at some point, having abandoned their spiritual birthright, having lost their true connection with the Church and God, the intelligentsia, aristocracy, and even, as I have already said, part of the clergy were darkened in mind and infected with the thought of the need to drastically change the course of our national history and to try to build as quickly as possible a world where justice reigns, where there is no bygone separation according to material indicators, where people live peacefully and happily. As a result, many of those captured by this idea reach the point of committing crimes.

A question arises: “Is it possible through crime, through blood, through violence, and through the destruction of holy sites to build a happy life?” History clearly testifies: It is impossible! And, perhaps, the first and most important lesson that we should learn today from the tragedy of a century ago is that no promises of a happy life, no hope for help from outside, from some supposedly more educated and advanced people should seduce our people. We must remember the tragedy of the past. We must develop an immunity to any call to attain to human happiness through the destruction of that which is.

Hardly did anyone who called for the destruction of the people’s lives destroy their own lives, renouncing their own wellbeing. But with what fury they proposed to do it to everyone! And the people absorbed this lie; and the crowning act of departure from the most sacred and valuable that they had was the hideous execution of the Royal Family—innocent people who had not violated the law. And what kind of law could we even be talking about if it was necessary to kill the Tsar and his family to build a happy life? We know that nothing turned out well, and taught by bitter experience, we must build a robust rejection of any ideas and any leaders who propose to strive for some obscure “happy future” through the destruction of the life of the people, our traditions, and our faith.

Today, gathered here in such a great number, we remember the tragedy of the Ipatiev House. We have lifted up prayers to the Lord, we have prayed to the Emperor and Passion-Bearer Nicholas and those who suffered with him, that they would pray in Heaven for our earthly Fatherland and for our people and strengthen the Orthodox faith in every subsequent generation of Russians; that faithfulness to God and love for the Fatherland would accompany the lives of the youth and subsequent generations, and that no tragedy of this kind would ever happen again in our land.

May the Lord preserve our Russian land and the Russian people who today live in various countries; and although they are called by various names, are the same people who came out of the Kievan baptismal font, and passing though the most severe historical circumstances, have retained the Orthodox faith until today. May God’s blessing be upon our people, upon our Fatherland, and upon our martyric Russian Orthodox Church. May the life of our people be transfigured by the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church—without any upheavals or blood, but upon the firm foundation of faith and hope that God is with us! May the Lord save us all by the prayers of the holy Royal Passion-Bearers and all the New Martyrs!

Amen.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 December 2019

The Imperial Room in the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

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NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally published on 20 June 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

On 20th June 2018, representatives of the media were granted a first look at the Imperial Room, in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. The altar of the Imperial Room is situated in the lower church sanctified in honor of the Holy Royal Martyrs. It was established on the site of the room located in the basement of the Ipatiev House, where Emperor Nicholas II, his family, and four retainers were all brutally murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The decoration of the room received the blessing of the Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill to mark the centenary of this tragic event.

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The new design, the reconstruction of the altar, along with additional work in the Imperial Room, was carried out during the past year,the senior priest of the Church on Blood Achpriest Maxim Minailyo told journalists.

Father Maxim noted that the decoration of the Imperial Room was conducted by masters from Moscow and Belarus. Above the paintings worked talented Moscow icon painters led by Alexei Vronsky, and the mosaic was done by specialists of the mosaic workshop at the Holy Elizabethan Monastery of Minsk under the guidance of the icon painter Dmitry Kuntsevich. The work was supervised by nuns of the Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg, known for their skill in restoring and decorating Orthodox churches.

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Representatives of the media saw a unique mosaic panel which occupies the central part of the altar depicting the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers and their faithful retainers who suffered with them: Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatyana, Maria, Anastasia, Saint Yevgeny Botkin, Alexey Trupp, Ivan Kharitonov and Anna Demidova.

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As the priest said, the mosaic reflects the position of the Royal Passion-Bearers at the time of their martyrdom. They stood with their backs to the east, facing west, as it is now depicted in the altar.

Above them rises the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God, which is the heavenly patroness of the House of Romanov.

On the western vault depicts the Sovereign Icon of the Mother of God, which was revealed on the very day when the Emperor was forced to abdicate the throne, and the saints glorified during the reign of Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich: St. Theodosius of Chernigov, St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Princess Anna Kashinskaya, St. Joasaph Belgorod, St. Hermogen of Moscow, St. Pitirim of Tambov, and St. John of Tobolsk.

The creation of the paintings and mosaics took almost a year to complete. The creation of mosaic works was a particularly complex project, as the iconography of all the members of the Imperial Family and their faithful retainers had to be intricately created.

The walls and the floor around the altar are lined with red onyx, which is very symbolic, because the red color on one side symbolizes the martyrs blood shed by the Imperial family, and on the other hand, red is the color of the royal scarlet, porphyry, regal color. This color depicts very well the feat of the Royal Passion-bearers, who in both imperial majesty and in humiliation showed rare piety and great spiritual heights.

On the right side of the throne in a special reliquary containing fragments of the Ipatiev House: a brick and a balustrade.

At the end of the media presentation, the senior priest of the church thanked the journalists for the meeting, noting the great importance of this holy place in the church.

– “We must understand that this is the main sacred place of our city. And this room is the holy of holies in this church,” the father pointed out. – “This place today inspires us to move on and create such unique architectural and religious monuments to which our children, visitors, pilgrims will be drawn, because creating such a diverse national architecture, we lay the foundation for future generations to be proud of our country, including our cultural, religious and architectural heritage.”

CONSECRATION

NOTE: This article was originally published on 20 December 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

On 12th December 2018, Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursk performed the rite of Great Consecration of the renovated side-chapel in the name of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. His Eminence was served by the hierarchs of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis: Bishop Method Kamensky and Alapaevsky, Bishop Evgeny of Nizhny Tagil and Nevyansky, and Bishop Serov and Krasnoturyinsky Alexy.

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At the end of the service, Metropolitan Kirill recalled in his archpastoral talk that the year 2018 – the Imperial or Royal Year – the year marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of the Imperial family, was widely celebrated in the Ural city. He recalled that on the night 16/17 July, an estimated 100,000 people participated in the Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Blood and the subsequent cross procession, both of which were headed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. According to the ruling bishop, it was truly a “nationwide prayer celebration.”

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And completing this year, the consecration of the renewed side-altar in the name of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers was performed in the Church on the Blood.

Metropolitan Kirill noted that a Divine Liturgy is performed once a week, on the night of Tuesday/Wednesday, in memory of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, whose murder occurred on the night of Tuesday/Wednesday 16/17 July 1918. In addition, once a month, on the night of the 16/17, a night liturgy is also celebrated. Metropolitan Kirill reached out to Orthodox Christians asking them to attend the night service and pray to the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers.

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– “Here you have this feeling – a special reverence for the Royal Family and our martyrs, the new confessors of the Russian Church, one which will enter the soul, even if the soul is cold. All this love and achievement will melt away any callousness and any coldness. And the more we pray, the more we pay attention to the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, to their feat – the feat of meekness, humility, purity, the feat of absolute love for their God and for their homeland, until then our country will stand, and no evil power will be able to disturb her. Therefore, today we especially thank God for the feat of our Regal martyrs, our holy martyrs, all those who have defended our Homeland and our Church, and thanks to whom we today live on this earth,” Metropolitan Kirill said.

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The ruling bishop also thanked the senior priest of the Church on the Blood, Archpriest Maxim Minyaylo, for his work in this church, and also thanked Abbess Domnik (Korobeinikova) and the sisters of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, who “very strongly and powerfully helped create this chapel.”

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The altar of the Imperial Room is situated in the lower church, sanctified in honor of the Holy Royal Martyrs. It was established on the site of the room located in the basement of the Ipatiev House, where Emperor Nicholas II, his family, and four retainers were all brutally murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918. In the summer of 2018, with the blessing of Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, the altar of the Imperial Chapel of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers – the so-called Royal Room – was redesigned and decorated for the Tsar’s Days held in Ekaterinburg. The interior of the room has completely changed: like the Cuvuclia in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

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The central place is occupied by a unique mosaic panel. in the central part of the altar, depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs and their loyal subjects: Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsesarevich Alexei, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, St. Eugene Botkin, Alexei Trupp, Ivan Kharitonov and Anna Demidova. The mosaic reflects the position of the Royal Passion-Bearers at the time of their martyr’s death: standing with their backs to the east, facing west, as is now depicted in the altar.

© Paul Gilbert. 30 November 2019