Excavations at the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in the early 2000s

PHOTO: A simple wooden cross was installed on the site of the Ipatiev House in the 1990s

Prior to the construction of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, local archaeologists took a particular interest in the site where the 18th century mansion once stood.

An excavation of the site was organized by archaeologist Sergey Nikolaevich Pogorelov in 2000. At that time, he headed the Department for the Study of Historical Monuments in the Regional Research and Production Center.

The area where the Ipatiev House was located stood on land once owned by the Ural-Siberian Factory. In 1766-1808 the wooden Old Ascension Church stood on the site of the house, which included a small cemetery. Later, residential quarters were constructed, including the Ipatiev House in the 1880s. 

According to Pogorelov, in 2000, when the question arose about the construction of the Church on the Blood, city and regional authorities were notified that a decree issued in 1990 stipulated that no construction could take place on historic sites without historical and archaeological research being carried out first.

Excavations began in early June through September of 2000, and then continued in the summer of 2001. During that time, nearly 600 people took part in them. They made some interesting discoveries. For instance, during the excavations it turned out that the Soviet authorities had removed the remains of the basement walls of the Ipatiev House many years prior.

When archaeologists found the place where the basement execution room was located, they discovered that in its place, a concrete bunker had been built. They then referred to the city plans which were given them by the administration. As it turned out a government communication line had been laid along Klara Zetkin Street (former Voznesensky Prospekt and Voznesensky Lane, respectively), . When the cables were laid near where the Ipatiev House stood, they turned sharply 90 degrees, passing through where the execution room was located, and into the bunker, and then back to Klara Zetkin towards Voznesenskaya Gorka. Archaeologists learned that in the early 1970s, the local Soviet had set up the bunker with the intent of destroying the place where the Imperial family had been murdered.

However, an even greater discovery for archaeologists was what they found under the bunker when they began to dig deeper. Under the concrete structure was a grave, partially carved into the rock. Inside, in a coffin with forged nails, lay the remains of a woman and a baby.

Archaeologists had discovered the 18th century Orthodox cemetery, proving that the Ipatiev House was partly built on the site of the Church of the Ascension, and partly on the churchyard. The police were called in and the remains of the woman and her child were taken away.

Pogorelov noted that many graves must have been lost in the 1980s when part of the slope of the Voznesenskaya Gorka, was cut back during the reconstruction of Karl Liebknecht Street.

During their excavations, archaeologists uncovered an area of ​​more than 500 square meters at a depth of about 2 meters.

PHOTO: Archaeologist Sergey Nikolaevich Pogorelov shows fragments
of ceramic vessels found at Porosenkov Log in 2010

They found an underground stone structure with an area of ​​5 by 5 meters with granite walls in the foundation and stone granite slabs of the floor. Inside were the remains of the shelves of the party archives. It was here that the trunks belonging to the Imperial family were stored after their transfer from Tobolsk in April 1918.

On the western side of the estate grounds stood several poplars. There was some speculation that the trees had been planted during the Soviet years. Experts from the Institute of Plant and Animal Ecology conducted a dendrochronological analysis and found that they are more than 100 years old. Thus, it was determined that the trees were there when the Imperial family were living there under house arrest.

Among the trees a hole was discovered. They thought it was a cellar, but it turned out to be a well. It had been pierced into the monolithic rock of the Voznesenskaya hill using mining tools.

Archaeologists found a mention of this well in the notes of Yakov Yurovsky, who led the execution of the Imperial family. He wrote that he was repairing it at the moment when Nicholas II approached him. The well itself was filled with many artefacts, among them items belonging to the Imperial family.

The following year, when construction on the Church on the Blood was already underway, and two underground floors were planned on the site, the well suddenly filled with water. The builders wanted to fill it with concrete, however, a decision was made to preserve it. Today, the former well named “Tsarskoe” of the Ipatiev House is now located in the lower underground floors of the Church on the Blood.

As a result of the excavation of the estate, archaeologists managed to collect about 64 thousand artefacts. There were no precious items among them – only those that are of interest from a historical point of view. Fragments of dishes, buttons, metal objects … Everything that fell to the ground or tossed into the well since the 18th century. 

Pogorelov found pieces of china with the emblems of the Imperial Porcelain Factory bearing the initials of Nicholas II, from the coronation porcelain service of 1896. He later discovered that part of the service had been stolen by the Bolsheviks after the murder of the Imperial family. Their whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

It took 300 crates to pack the 64,000 artefacts, and stored in different places until 2013. According to Pogorelov “nobody provided help, nor were the legislation requirements fulfilled”. The crates were subsequently transferred to the Museum of the History of Ekaterinburg. Today, the famous Russian archaeologies does not know what happened to the collection.

The Museum of the History of Ekaterinburg would not comment on what happened to the collection further nor whether the artefacts from the excavations at the site of the Ipatiev House are still in their funds.

© Paul Gilbert. 23 October 2020

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Dear Reader: It is always a pleasure for me to present new articles based on my own research from Russian archival sources, offering first English translations of new works from Russian media sources on my Nicholas II blog and Facebook pages. Many of these articles and topics seldom (if ever) attract the attention of the Western media. Please note that I personally translate the articles, and complement them further with additional materials, photographs, videos and links.

If you found this article interesting, then please help support my research by making a donation in US or Canadian dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by GoFundMe, PayPal, credit card, personal check or money order. Thank you for your consideration – PG

Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands”

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The Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands” is located
in the Upper Church of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

Today, 11th July, the feast of the Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands”, was celebrated in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. The icon belonged to the Tsar’s family, who venerated it during their imprisonment in the Ipatiev House in 1918. It remained in their possession until the very last minutes of their earthly life.

This image was found after the regicide in the Ipatiev House. It was later carried out of Russia by a member of the Kolchak army. The icon proceeded through China to the United States of America and Canada, and in the early 1920s, through the efforts of the officers devoted to the sovereign, it was transferred to the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. The icon remained in the circle of the Romanov family, passing from generation to generation until 2003.

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The Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands” which belonged to the Imperial Family

In July 2003, the wife of the emperor’s nephew Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovskaya (1926-2020) solemnly presented the Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands” to the Church on the Blood, built on the site of the murder of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and thus fulfilled the death wish of her husband Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky (1917-1993), who owned the family heirloom for many decades.

By the Providence of God it was arranged that the icon arrived on 10th July 2003 for the evening liturgy on the eve of the feast of the Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands”.

With the feast of the Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Three Hands” the Tsar’s Days officially begins. A Divine Liturgy will be performed this evening in the Church on the Blood by Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky. Beginning today, we will remember the final days and the last moments of the earthly life of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

© Paul Gilbert. 11 July 2020

Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2020

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A Divine Liturgy is held on the night of 16/17 July at the Church on the Blood

Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Tsar’s Days events will go ahead as planned in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. Russia has been hard hit by the coronavirus, reported more than 371,000 cases to date.

A press release from the Ekaterinburg City Hall has confirmed that in 2020, Tsar’s Days will be held from 12 to 21 July. Tsar’s Days is the annual festival of Orthodox culture in Ekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk Region, marking the deaths and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in the Ipatiev House on 17th July 1918. The festival includes divine services, religious processions, exhibitions, concerts and other events.

The main event, for which thousands of Orthodox pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg, is the solemn liturgy, which takes place on the night of the murder of the Holy Royal Martyrs – 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.

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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

In addition, several exhibitions will be held in Ekaterinburg, including From Repentance to the Resurrection of Russia, which will be held from 12-19 July. Representatives of the largest Orthodox churches from across Russia, Ukraine, Greece and other countries will take part.

The first Tsar’s Days was held in Ekaterinburg in 2001. In 2018, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the regicide in the Ural capital, attracted more than 100,000 Orthodox pilgrims, monarchists, among others from across Russia and around the world.

© Paul Gilbert. 27 May 2020

78 nightly Divine Liturgies in the Church on the Blood for the Holy Royal Martyrs

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An icon of the Holy Royal Martyrs set against the backdrop of the entrance to the so-called
Royal (aka Imperial) Room, in the lower church of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

On 30th April, an evening Divine Liturgy was served in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. A Divine Liturgy will be held every night from 30th April to 17th July – marking the 78 days in which Emperor Nicholas II along with his family and faithful retainers were held under arrest in the Ipatiev House.

Night liturgies are traditionally held in the so-called Royal (aka Imperial) Room, situated in the lower church of the Church on the Blood. An altar was erected on the site of the murder of the Imperial family in the early morning hours of 17th July 1918. In 2018 the room and the altar were decorated with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky Cyril to the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the Imperial family.

The tradition of holding 78 nightly Divine Liturgies in the Church on the Blood from 30th April to 17th July was established with the blessing of the ruling bishop in 2018.

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

Click HERE to read my article The Imperial Room in the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg + 17 PHOTOS and 2 VIDEOS

© Paul Gilbert. 5 May 2020

US Ambassador to Russia Visits Ekaterinburg

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PHOTO: From left to right: Archpriest Daniil Andreiuk, Representative of the Orthodox Church in America under the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, US Ambassador to the Russian Federation John J. Sullivan, US Consul in Ekaterinburg Amy Storrow, and Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky Kirill in the Patriarchal Compound in Ekaterinburg on 16th March 2020. Photo © Ekaterinburg Diocese

On 16th March 2020, Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky Kirill met with US Ambassador to the Russian Federation John J. Sullivan, US Consul in Ekaterinburg Amy Storrow, and Archpriest Daniil Andreiuk, Representative of the Orthodox Church in America under the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The visit to the Ural city by Ambassador Sullivan and his entourage took place in the Synodal Hall of the Tsarsky Cultural and Educational Center, located in the Patriarchal Compound, across from the Church on the Blood.

The US ambassador thanked Metropolitan Kirill for the meeting and noted that he plans to come again.

– “Indeed, we need to pray to God and, at the same time, we will continue to work together. This is my first visit to Ekaterinburg, and I plan to return,” the ambassador said.

Mr. Sullivan also congratulated Metropolitan Kirill on the 22nd anniversary of his Episcopal ordination. Then the archpastor presented his guest with souvenirs of his visit to Ekaterinburg.

After the meeting, Archpriest Maxim Minyailo, senior priest of the Church on the Blood conducted an excursion for their American guests around the Museum of the Holy Royal Family in the Tsarsky Center and the Church on the Blood, during which Ural shrines were presented that preserve the memory of the feat of the holy Royal Martyrs.

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PHOTO: Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky Kirill and US Ambassador to the Russian Federation John J. Sullivan admiring a sculpture of the Holy Royal Martyrs Saints Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexei in the Patriarchal Compound in Ekaterinburg on 16th March 2020. Photo © Ekaterinburg Diocese

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PHOTO: Archpriest Maxim Minyailo, senior priest of the Church on the Blood conducts an excursion for his American guests around the Museum of the Holy Royal Family in the Tsarsky Center, situated in the Patriarchal Compound in Ekaterinburg on 16th March 2020. Photo © Ekaterinburg Diocese

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PHOTO: Archpriest Maxim Minyailo, senior priest of the Church on the Blood conducts an excursion for his American guests around the Upper Church of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg on 16th March 2020. Photo © Ekaterinburg Diocese

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PHOTO: Archpriest Maxim Minyailo, senior priest of the Church on the Blood conducts an excursion for his American guests to the Imperial Room (see note below) located in the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg on 16th March 2020. Photo © Ekaterinburg Diocese

NOTE: 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.

Click HERE to read to read my article The Imperial Room in the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg, featuring 17 photos and 2 videos

© Paul Gilbert. 17 March 2020

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