Program for the XXII Tsar’s Days in the Urals – 2022

From 12th to 20th July, the 22nd annual Tsar’s Days will be held in the Urals [Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk], which includes a series of solemn events [16th to 18th July] dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who met their death and martyrdom in Ekaterinburg 104 years ago, on 17th July 1918.

The main events are the night Divine Liturgy, which is performed on the square in front of the Church on the Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House, where members of the Imperial Family and their faithful subjects ended their earthly days, and the 21-km [13 miles] Cross Procession to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, on the site of which the regicides first disposed of the Imperial family’s remains, before returning the following day to exum thre remains and bury them in two separate graves at *Porosenkov Log.

On 18th July, similar events will be held in Alapaevsk, where 8 additonal members of the Romanov dynasty and their faithful servants [see below] met their death and martydom.

The Ekaterinburg Martyrs – 11 victims

Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich, and their four faithful retainers Dr. Eugene Botkin (court physician), Alexei Trupp (footman), Ivan Kharitonov (cook), and Anna Demidova (Alexandra’s maid).

The Alapaevsk Martyrs – 8 victims

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), and two faithful servants: sister of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent Varvara Alekseevna (Yakovleva), and Fyodor Semyonovich (Mikhailovich) Remez, secretary of the Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich.

In addition, the XXI International Festival of Orthodox Culture will be held in Ekaterinburg from 12th-20th July. The festival features many events in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs, including divine services, religious processions, exhibitions, concerts, conferences and other events.

PHOTO: icon depicting the Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk Martyrs

SERVICE CALENDAR

July 16, Saturday

09:00 – Divine Liturgy at the altar of the Holy Royal Martyrs, situated in the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg.

13:00 — Cross procession along the route in which the Holy Royal Martyrs travelled upon arriving in Ekaterinburg [from Tobolsk] on 30th April 1918, from the Shartash Train Station [Kuibysheva street, 149-a] to the Church on the Blood. Route: [Tsarskaya street, 10] along the route: railway station Shartash – Kuibyshev street – Vostochnaya street – Chelyuskintsev street – Sverdlov street – K. Liebknecht street).

15:00 – Small Vespers with Akathist to the Holy Royal Martyrs. Confession. In the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood.

16:30-20:00 – All-night vigil, on the square in front of the Church on the Blood.

17:00-20:00 – All-night vigil, at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

23:30-02:00 – Divine Liturgy, on the square in front of the Church on the Blood.

July 17, Sunday

~ 02:30 – Traditional 21-km [13 miles] Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama Route: Tsarskaya street, 10 – st. Tolmacheva – Lenin Ave. – V. Isetsky Boulevard – st. Kirov – st. Bebel – st. Technical – st. Reshetskaya – Railway forest park – pos. Shuvakish – Ganina Yama.

Upon the arrival of the procession, a Liturgy to the Holy Royal Martyrs will be performed at the Field kitchen.

06:00 – Divine Liturgy (early). Church on the Blood. In the Lower Church, altar at the site of the martyrdom of the Holy Royal Martyrs aka the Imperial Room [built on the site of the murder room, located in the basement of the Ipatiev House].

09:00 – Divine Liturgy (late). Church on the Blood, Upper Church

09:00 – Divine Liturgy. Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

17.00 – All-night vigil. Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh, at Ganina Yama.

17.00 – All-night vigil. Monastery in the Name of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, Alapaevsk.

July 18, Monday

00:00 – Divine Liturgy. Holy Trinity Archbishop’s Compound, Alapaevsk.

02:30 – Small Vespers with Akathist to the Holy Royal Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and nun Varvara. Holy Trinity Archbishop’s Compound, Alapaevsk.

03:30 – Procession from the Holy Trinity Bishops’ Metochion to the Napolnaya School [where Grand Duchess Elizabeth along with other members of the Imperial family and their servants were held under arrest] and further to the Monastery in the Name of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, Alapaevsk.

05:30 – Divine Liturgy (early). Monastery in the Name of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, Alapaevsk.

09:00 – Divine Liturgy (late). Monastery in the Name of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, Alapaevsk.

Tsar’s Days in the 21st century

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 an estimated 60,000 people took part; in 2019, 60 thousand participated; in 2020, 10 thousand people [due to COVID], and in 2021, 3 thousand people [once again, 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 Sredneuralsk Convent in Honour of the Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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.

Click HERE to read my article What is Tsar’s Days? – published on 15th May 2021

*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.

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) have confirmed that the Bishops’ Council, will meet in Moscow at the end of 2022, during which they will review the findings of the Investigative Commission and deliver their verdict on the authenticity of the Ekaterinburg Remains.

Summer 2022 Appeal

If you enjoy my articles, news stories and translations, then please help support my research by making a donation in US dollars to my project The Truth About Nicholas II – please note that donations can be made by PayPal or credit card. Thank you for your consideration – PG

© Paul Gilbert. 5 July 2022

Pilgrimage to Ganina Yama – “for reflection and prayer”

PHOTO: the author [Paul Gilbert] of this article praying at Ganina Yama. A wooden causeway has been built around the edge of the mine shaft, a tall Orthodox cross marks the edge of the mine shaft – visible as a depression in the ground – where the remains of Nicholas II and his family were first discarded by the regicides.

In the pre-dawn hours of 17th July 1918, a crime of the most heinous kind was committed in the basement of the Ipatiev House in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. It was here that members of the Ural Soviet [Bolsheviks] murdered Russia’s last Tsar, his wife and their five children, as well as the family’s four faithful retainers. The regicide remains one of the darkest pages in 20th Russian history.

Following the murders, the regicides secretly transported their bodies to the abandoned Isetsky mine, located near the Four Brothers tract, situated four kilometres southeast of the village of Koptyaki, and some 15 km (10 miles) north of the Ural city, where their remains were subsequently thrown into a 9 ft. deep pit. The site is today known as Ganina Yama.

Fearing that the burial site was no longer a secret, the regicides returned to the site the night after the first burial, retrieved the bodies from the mine and transported them to a second burial site known as Porosyenkov Log, situated 3.5 km from the original site.

On 20th August 2000, Emperor Nicholas II and his family were glorified as passion bearers[1] by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church[2]. On 23rd September 2000, during his visit to the Urals, Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2000) visited the Ganina Yama tract and, having blessed the establishment of the monastic monastery, put his signature on the master plan of the monastery[3]. The first stone of the monastery was laid on 1st October 2000. On 27th December, the Holy Synod officially “blessed the opening of a monastery in the name of the Holy Royal Martyrs in the Ganina Yama tract”. On 28th December, the all-male Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs was established here.

PHOTO: the author [Paul Gilbert] standing next to the monument to Emperor Nicholas II, installed on the grounds of Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs on 19th May 2008, the Sovereign’s birthday

Following their canonization, the Russian Orthodox Church declared the Ganina Yama site holy ground. The grounds were therefore dedicated to honour the family’s humility during their house arrest and their status as political martyrs. With financial assistance from the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, the Church constructed the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at the site in 2001. A tall cross marks the edge of the mine shaft, visible as a depression in the ground.[3]

Seven wooden chapels were later constructed at the site, one for each member of the Imperial Family. Each chapel is dedicated to a particular saint or relic. The katholikon [the main church of the monastery] is dedicated to the Theotokos Derzhavnaya [Reigning Icon of the Mother of God], an icon particularly revered by the monarchists.

Since the opening of the monastery, Ganina Yama has become not only a place of spiritual pilgrimage, but also a historical and educational center. Up to 10 thousand pilgrims visit Ganina Yama each month. They come mostly from the Ural region, however, increasing numbers from across Russia, and foreign countries as far away as the United States and Australia make the journey to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs. Most of the pilgrims are Orthodox Christians and monarchists, but Ganina Yama also welcomes the “curious” visitor, those who seek to learn about Russia’s last Tsar and his family. In July of each year, the number of pilgrims swells by the tens of thousands for the events marking Tsar’s Days.

A wooden causeway surrounds the abandoned mine shaft – visible as a depression in the ground – where the remains of Nicholas II and his family were first discarded after their brutal murder. The area is filled with fragrant white lilies[4]. In 2018, seven portraits [colourized by Olga Shirnina aka KLIMBIM] of Nicholas II and his family were installed around the causeway.

On the night of 16/17 July, a night-long service is held at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg ]built on the site of the Ipatiev House]. At daybreak, tens of thousands of pilgrims take part in a 21 km [13 miles] Cross procession [a four hour journey on foot] from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama, where a Divine Liturgy is performed at the edge of the abandoned pit. In 2018, an estimated 100,000 people from across Russia and around the world took part.

Once a bastion of Bolshevism, Ekaterinburg has slowly shed its status as the “capital of atheism”. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Urals has experienced a revival of faith, with Ekaterinburg at the into the center of Orthodox Russia in the Urals. Ekaterinburg has done more to honour Nicholas II and his family than any other city in Russia.

For those who wish to honour the memory of Russia’s last Emperor and his family, a pilgrimage “for reflection and prayer” to the Urals is a once in a lifetime experience. If you are planning to visit Ekaterinburg during Tsar’s Days, I highly recommend visits to the places which memorialize the last days of Emperor Nicholas II and his family – in particular the Church on the Blood, Ganina Yama and Porosenkov Log.

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

Visiting Information

The Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama is open daily from 09:00 to 18:00. Admission is FREE, although a donation box is located in the welcome center, near the entrance.

Visitors should allow approximately 3-4 hours for their visit. The monastery also has a museum and exhibition center – located on the ground floor of the Church of the Reigning Mother of God – which hosts numerous temporary exhibitions throughout the year.

In addition, the monastery offers a small cafe with refreshments and snacks; a gift shop, which offers books, icons and souvenirs, all the proceeds of which help with the maintenance and upkeep of the monastery.

On the weekends believers can attend the evening service on Saturdays, and the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. When visiting the monastery and churches, visitors are required to adhere to the Orthodox dress code: for instance, women must cover their heads – scarves and long aprons are available for tourists at the entrance to the monastery.

In addition, the monastery offers accomodation at the Diocesan Pilgrimage Center, providing pilgrims with a place to pray, rest and eat. The hotel has standard rooms, a conference room, a children’s room and a prayer room, Wi-Fi access and parking.

NOTES:

[1] Despite their official designation as “passion-bearers” in 2000, by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, Emperor Nicholas II and his family are referred to as “martyrs” in Church publications, icons, and in popular veneration by the people.

[2] Emperor Nicholas II and his family were canonized as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) in 1981, however, it was not until 2000, that they were canonized by the Moscow Patriachate.

[3] It has come to this author’s attention, that the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama is sometimes referred to by some Westerners as “Romanovland“, a disrespectful comparison to an amusement park.

[4] White lilies are considered to be a representation of Christ’s purity and divinity, also symbolizing resurrection.

© Paul Gilbert. 11 April 2022

Tsar’s Days: Journey to Ekaterinburg

*This title is available from AMAZON in the USA, UK, Canada,
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On 17th July 1998, independent researcher and writer Paul Gilbert travelled to St. Petersburg, for the interment of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. Twenty years later to the day, he journeyed 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.

In addition are 24 illustrated news articles about events leading up to Tsar’s Days in the Urals, from 1st to 31st July 2018.

Gilbert’s solemn journey to the Urals allowed him to experience history in the making, and to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, a century after their death and martyrdom.

© Paul Gilbert. 4 February 2021

The fate of Porosenkov Log and Ganina Yama

CLICK on the image above to watch a 2-minute video tour of the Romanov Memorial at Porosenkov Log

In May, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) will convene in Moscow, to discuss the results of examinations carried out between 2015-2018, by the Investigate Committee of the Russian Federation. It is widely believed that the Council will recognize the authenticity of the remains of the Imperial Family. So, what effect will this have on both Porosenkov Log and Ganina Yama?

Representatives of the Romanov Memorial Charitable Foundation in Ekaterinburg, now fear that the diocese could destroy the original appearance of Porosenkov Log, the spot were the remains of Emperor Nicholas II, his wife, three children and four retainers were discovered in 1991. The remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Maria were discovered in a nearby separate grave in 2007.

According to Ilya Korovin, Director of the Romanov Memorial Charitable Foundation , Porosenkov Log is the only place in Ekaterinburg connected with the Imperial Family’s final days, which has survived to this day unchanged. “In Ganina Yama, unlike the Porosenkov Log, visitors cannot see the territory as it looked in 1918. Of course, with the recognition of the remains, the question of the future fate of the memorial will arise,” he said during a recent press conference.

As an argument, representatives of the fund cite the fact that in March 2016 the Ekaterinburg Diocese asked for a plot of land at Porosenkov Log, made a request to the Ministry of Culture of the Sverdlovsk Region for the transfer of the territory in and around Porosyonkov Log (added to the cultural heritage list in 2014), transferred to the ROC, to be designated as sacred land and where a memorial and monastery, similar to that at Ganina Yama would be constructed.

The Governor of Sveredlovsk Yevgeny Kuyvashev suspended the process of allocating land for an indefinite period. “Knowing the methods of preserving and developing memorial sites by the Russian Orthodox Church, one can come to the disappointing conclusion that Porosenkov Log will undergo catastrophic changes,” Korovin said. Korovin also noted that the territory of the Railway Forest Park, where the Romanov Memorial is located, is also subject to future development.

Representatives of the Romanov Memorial also added that, previously in 2007-2010 the Russian Orthodox Church planned to seize the territory in the area of ​​the Old Koptyakovskaya Road, partially cut down the forest, in order to build a cemetery and an Orthodox church. Again, the Sverdlovsk authorities were forced to intervene in order to end the conflict.

Sergei Chapnin, a member and expert of the Romanov Memorial Charitable Foundation, believes that Porosenkov Log is a civil memorial and this section of the old Koptyakovskaya Road must be kept intact.

Local Ekaterinburg historian Nikolai Neuimin notes, “if the Bishops Council recognizes that the remains of the Nicholas II and his family are authentic, then it turns out that the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs should not have been built at Ganina Yama, the place where the regicides tried to bury the bodies for the first time. The bones lay there for only a day and a half, while the remains were reburied 3.5 km away in two separate graves in what is today known as Porosenkov Log. As Ganina Yama is the main place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians, no one will demolish or move the seven churches, even if it turns out that the remains in the Porosenkov Log are indeed genuine,” he added.

Chapnin, among others, believe that the recognition by the ROC of the Ekaterinburg will most certainly create a schism within the church. The ROC will be forced to acknowledge that for more than 100 years, they were wrong. This in itself may be perceived by many as a great embarrassment and humiliation to the church.

“Not every one in the church is ready to recognize the authenticity of the remains. Accepting the new reality will be quite difficult,” he added.

© Paul Gilbert. 14 February 2022

What awaits Ganina Yama, after the ROC recognizes the Ekaterinburg Remains?

PHOTO: The Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. A wooden causeway surrounds the abandoned mine shaft – visible as a depression in the ground – where the remains of Nicholas II and his family were first discarded after their brutal murder at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg

Thirty years after the discovery of the burial site of the Imperial Family in Porosenkov Log, the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is apparently now ready to accept the findings of numerous genetic examinations and admit that the remains of the bodies found there really belong to Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

It is not yet clear whether a new monastery will be built on the site, in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, but the church has already requested that Porosenkov Log be transferred to the Ekaterinburg Diocese “for the purpose of carrying out religious activities.” And, will most likely, receive it.

It is speculated, that next month, the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) will formally recognize the results of examinations which prove the authenticity of the remains of the Imperial Family, exhumed in the summer of 1991 in the area of ​​Porosenkov Log on the Old Koptyakovskaya Road.

“The examinations that have been carried out convincingly show that the remains found near Ekaterinburg are indeed the remains of the Imperial Family. But for the church to recognize this, it is necessary that all bishops study the results of these examinations. I think as soon as this happens – probably at the bishops’ council in November – the authenticity of the “Ekaterinburg remains” will be recognized by the church,” said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Alfeyev), chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate in September 2021.

PHOTO: Porosenkov Log, situated 3.8 km from Ganina Yama. The main grave is seen in the center of the photo, a small path (seen in the upper left) leads to the second grave, where the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Grand Duchess Maria were discovered in 2007

The discovery of the remains of the Imperial Family in Porosenkov Log

The family of Nicholas II were shot in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July 1918. The bodies were then taken out of the city to an area of ​​old mines in the Ganina Yama tract, where their killers attempted to destroy the remains using fire and acid.

For many years the Russian Orthodox Church insisted that the bodies of members of the Imperial Family had been destroyed. According to the inhabitants of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, the monastery stands on the ground, where the ashes from the burnt remains were scattered.

However, historians believe that Ganina Yama is the site of the first attempt of burying the remains, however, the killers returned the following day, exhumed the remains and transported them 3.8 km, and reburied them near the Old Koptyakovskaya Road, which led from Ekaterinburg to Lake Isetskoye.

The remains of the Imperial Family were originally found in 1978 by a group of enthusiasts led by the Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin, who worked under the patronage of film director Geliy Ryabov. Due to the political situation in the Soviet Union at the time, no exhumation of the remains was carried out. It was not until 1991, after the victory of Boris Yeltsin in the presidential elections of the RSFSR, that Avdonin decided that it was time to make the discovery public.

Meanwhile, the search for the remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria continued, and discovered in 2007 at Porosenkov Log, in a second grave [only 44 pieces of their bones had been discovered at the site] just meters from the main burial site.

Since that time, the authenticity of the bones of Nicholas II and his family has been confirmed three times. In January 1998, the Commission of the Republican Center for Forensic Medicine of the Ministry of Health of Russia concluded: “The remains found in Ekaterinburg are the remains of Nicholas II, members of his family and his retainers.” In 2008, the authenticity of the remains was also confirmed by a genetic analysis carried out by experts from Russia and the United States. In the summer of 2018, the official representative of the Investigative Committee of Russia (TFR) Svetlana Petrenko said that repeated commissions of molecular genetic examinations confirmed the authenticity of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

PHOTO: The tomb of the Imperial Family in the St. Catherine Chapel of the SS Peter and Paul Cathedral, St. Petersburg

Why has the Russian Orthodox Church not recognized the authenticity of the remains for 30 years?

Despite these numerous extensive scientific studies and examinations, the Russian Orthodox Church has still not officially recognized the remains discovered at Porosenkov Log. There are several reasons for this:

First, the recognition somewhat discredits the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. If the remains of the Imperial Family are nevertheless recognized as genuine, it will turn out that the monastery has to be rebuilt in another place. At the same time, Ganina Yama is the main place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians, where traditionally all religious processions in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs end.

Secondly, as the historian and local historian Nikolai Neuymin explains, there will be confusion in the minds of believers, since “there will be several graves: at Ganina Yama, Porosenkov Log and the Peter and Paul Fortress [St. Petersburg].”

Thirdly, the recognition of the remains threatens a split among Orthodox Believers, some of whom will not believe the results of the genetic examination.

Fourth, the Russian Orthodox Church will be forced to publicly admit that for more than 100 years, they were wrong.

Click HERE to read my article The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains, published on 18th June 2021

PHOTO: Independent researcher Paul Gilbert, standing at the entrance to the Romanov Memorial at Porosenkov Log. 2nd June 2016

What will happen to Porosenkov Log and Ganina Yama?

If the Russian Orthodox Church does recognize the remains, then, most likely, it will most likely construct a new monastery, church or just a chapel for pilgrims. It is difficult, however, to say at this time.

In March 2016, the Ministry of Culture of the Sverdlovsk Region reported that if the ROC requests the transfer of the territory in and around Porosyonkov Log (added to the cultural heritage list in 2014), would be designated as sacred land and transferred to the ROC, where a memorial and monastery, similar to that at Ganina Yama would be constructed. This in itself suggests that perhaps the ROC has already come to a decision on the authenticity of the remains, and were making preparations?

Porosenkov Log is currently under the administration of the Sverdlovsk Museum of Local Lore, who have plans to build a museum complex on this territory. As a result, Governor Evgeny Kuyvashev suspended the process of land allocation for an indefinite period.

It should also be added, that if the ROC recognize the remains of the Imperial Family as Holy Relics, they cannot be returned to their tomb in St. Catherine’s Chapel [SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg], as relics cannot be returned to the earth. They must be placed in reliquaries above ground which allows the faithful to venerate them. This would be one very important reason why their remains would be interred in a new cathedral named in their honour.

Even if a new monastery is constructed at Porosenkov Log, it will not take away the significance and historic importance of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, because the burial of the Imperial Family took place at each in the summer of 1918.

In conclusion, perhaps, after the recognition of the remains by the church, the annual Cross Procession in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, will end not end at Ganina Yama, but at that of Porosenkov Log.

© Paul Gilbert. 3 October 2021

Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2021

PHOTO: members of the Double-Headed Eagle Society carry an icon of the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II on the square in front of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

On the night of 16/17 July, a Divine Liturgy in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, took place on the square in front of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. The Divine Liturgy and Cross Procession are the highlights of the annual Tsar’s Days held in the Ural capital.

Traditionally, several tens of thousands of people participate in the Tsar’s Cross Procession – 10 thousand in 2020 [due to COVID], 60 thousand in 2019 and 100 thousand in 2018 [100th anniversary]. Despite the pandemic, an estimated 3 thousand Orthodox Christians and monarchists took part in this year’s Divine Liturgy.

PHOTO: on the night of 16th July 2021, an estimated 3 thousand pilgrims attended the Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

In addition, the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs was honoured with Divine Liturgies held in Orthodox churches across Russia and around the world. In addition, many people lit candles in front of icons, while offering prayers in the privacy of their homes around the globe. The author of this article was one of them.

The Divine Liturgy was led by eight bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky, Metropolitan of Tashkent and Uzbekistan Vikentiy, Metropolitan of Chelyabinsk and Miassky Alexy, Bishop of Orsk and Gaysky Irenaeus, Bishop of Isilkul and Russian-Polyansky, Bishop Theodosius of Nizhny Novgorod and Nizhny-Polyan Kamyshlovsky Methodius, Bishop of Zlatoust and Satka Vincent.

PHOTO: Orthodox Christians gather on the square in front of the Church on the Blood to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs

Metropolitan Eugene addressed the faithful, who had assembled on the square in front of the church:

“The sacred, solemn, tragic, joyful night has come, which we call the Tsar’s night within the Tsar’s Days. A night that combines in itself the tragedy of Good Friday, the Gethsemane struggle that the Holy Royal Martyrs experienced at this place. And on the same night, the great joy of the Resurrection of Christ and the glory into which the Holy Royal Martyrs entered from this place is revealed. All this is experienced very closely by every person, and we have the opportunity to draw here both the hope of the resurrection and our strength to endure these Gethsemane temptations.

“At this time 103 years ago, the August Family, having prayed to God, saying: “In Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit,” just like we do when to go to sleep. And after a few minutes, footsteps sounded along the corridors, they began to be raised, woken up and taken to the basement. We know today what glory it ended with. And I would like to wish everyone to be inspired by their faith, humility and patience,” – said Metropolitan Eugene.

The night service was broadcast live by the Soyuz Orthodox TV channel to 87 countries around the world. You can watch the Divine Liturgy in its entirety, by clicking on the VIDEO below, duration 2 hours and 41 minutes:

Vladyka conveyed to the participants in the Divine Liturgy the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill to be attentive to each other and to observe all the necessary health and safety measures during the pandemic. He called on everyone to pray for the sick and also for their doctors. Metropolitan Eugene also emphasized, that when the Cross Procession to Ganina Yama begins, “I will put on a mask and, which I hope, will set a good example so that we all show humility – this is our discipline, this is our strength.”

Following the Divine Liturgy, a Cross Procession took place from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama. Pilgrims follow the route in which the bodies of the Imperial Family were transported to Ganina Yama – a distance of 26 km (16 miles), taking about four to five hours to walk on foot.

PHOTO: in the early morning hours of 17th July 2021, an estimated 2 thousand pilgrims participated in a Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

Due to the fact that the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region cancelled this years Cross Procession (due to the COVID situation), the head of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, Metropolitan Eugene of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky defied the order, and led 2 thousand believers on today’s Cross Procession to Ganina Yama. This year, however, the roads were not closed to traffic, forcing the pilgrims to walk on narrow sidewalks and the shoulder of the highway to safely make the journey.

PHOTO: pilgrims arrive on foot at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, after walking a distance of 26 km (16 miles) from the Church on the Blood, a journey taking about four to five hours

At approximately 6:30 am, another Divine Liturgy was performed at Mine No. 7, where the bodies of members of the Imperial Family and their loyal servants were thrown into the mineshaft by their killers. More than 80 clergymen prayed together with the arch-pastors of the Russian Orthodox Church.

PHOTO: Divine Liturgy was led by Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye at the Cross, erected over Mine No. 4, where the bodies of the Holy Royal Martyrs were thrown by their killers into an abandoned mine

The Divine Liturgy was led by Metropolitan Eugene of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, Metropolitan of Tashkent and Uzbekistan Vikenty, Bishop of Isilkul and Russian-Polyansky Theodosius, Bishop of Nizhny Tagil and Nevyansk Theodosius.

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

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2021

Pilgrimage Center at Ganina Yama

PHOTO: Pilgrimage Center at Ganina Yama

If you are planning a visit to Ekaterinburg, you may want to consider avoiding the hustle and bustle of the city, and spend a few days at the Diocesan Pilgrimage Center at Ganina Yama, which is located in a lush pine forest 25 km from Ekaterinburg.

Opened in November 2013, near the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, the Pilgrimage Center provides accommodation for 180 people and meals in the refectory [dining hall] for 80 people with a varied menu. It is an ideal place to stay for pilgrims who wish to visit the places associated with the last days of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. In addition, the center provides a conference hall for 200 people – perhaps, an ideal venue for a future Nicholas II Conference? – among other amenities.

PHOTO: accommodation for 180 people in comfortable and affordable rooms

PHOTO: the refectory seats 80 people with a varied menu and three meals a day

Ekaterinburg resident Lydia Rostova, reflects on her stay at the pilgrimage center: “the rooms were both comfortable and affordable – starting at 500 rubles [$7 USD] per night. Three meals a day are organized in the center – breakfast 80 rubles [$1 USD], lunch 150 rubles [$2 USD], dinner 100 rubles [$1.40 USD]. At first I thought that I would not have to have supper, because the refectory is open until 20:00, and the evening service at the monastery ends later. But the question was easily resolved: if necessary, supper is left and warmed up. The food is tasty and varied.”

PHOTO: the center provides a conference hall seating 200 people

It is convenient place to stay for its proximity to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs or Porosenkov Log, to attend divine services, and to honour the memory of the Imperial Family. In addition, pilgrims can arrange visits to Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk, or a pilgrimage to the Sredneuralsky Women’s Monastery in honour of the icon of the Mother of God, which is situated 7 km away from the center. You can also book a transfer to/from Koltsovo Airport for 700 rubles [$10 USD].

The Diocesan Pilgrimage Center at Ganina Yama prides itself in the tradition of Abrahamic hospitality to all pilgrims and visitors. Click HERE to visit their web site [Russian only].

© Paul Gilbert. 3 June 2021

Unique retro style postcards of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

The 23rd of September 2020, marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, which is situated 26 km (16 miles) from Ekaterinburg.

As part of the events marking the anniversary, the brethren of the monastery and the staff of the Museum and Exhibition Center – located in the the Church of the Reigning Mother of God – have prepared a unique gift for all pilgrims who visit the monastery with an excursion – a set of unique postcards with retro style photographs of the monastery taken with a 19th century camera.

In order to receive a set of the postcards, visitors need to obtain a special postcard-flyer at the Tsarsky Cultural and Educational Center – located in the Patriarchal Compound of the Church on the Blood – which must be presented to the guide at the monastery.

At the end of the tour, each visitor receives a set of these unique postcards with retro style photographs of the monastery. The photographs were taken by professional photographer, Candidate of Historical Sciences Vasily Zapariy, who used an old camera with glass plates of the late 19th – early 20th centuries, at the special request of the  Museum and Exhibition Center of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

The postcards were issued in a limited edition, and show how the churches, landscapes and brethren of the monastery would look through the lens of old photographic equipment.

The exhibition also features an interesting collection of old cameras. In order for visitors to gain a better understanding of the history of pre-revolutionary photography in Russia, using the example of the August amateur photographers – the family of Emperor Nicholas II.

The postcard promotion is valid until 28th February. The number of gifts is limited to 400 sets.

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CLICK on the IMAGE above to watch the VIDEO – duration 1 minute, 48 seconds

The excursion includes the photo-exhibition “August Photo Amateurs”, which opened on 19th September 2020, in the Museum and Exhibition Center – located in the the Church of the Reigning Mother of God – of the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama

The exhibition is one of numerous events marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the monastery. This particular exhibition presents the history of the development of the Imperial family’s passion for photography.

The exhibit presents a unique selection of photographs of Nicholas II and his family, testifying their deep interest and technical capabilities in the field of photography. The exhibition also features those taken by professional court photographers. Admission is FREE.

© Paul Gilbert. 22 January 2021

Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama marks 20th anniversary

PHOTO: A wooden causeway has been built around the edge of the mine shaft, a tall cross marks the edge of the mine shaft where the remains of Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers were their killers first discarded after their brutal murder.

On Wednesday, 23rd September, a solemn Divine Liturgy was held at Ganina Yama on the occasion marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

With the financial assistance from the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company, the Russian Orthodox Church constructed the Monastery at the site in 2001. Seven chapels were later constructed at the site, one for each member of the Imperial family. Each chapel is dedicated to a particular saint or relic.

PHOTO: The Four Brothers mine (collapsed) is now visible as a depression in the ground. In July of each year, the former mine pit is covered with fragrant lily plants for the ceremony marking the regicide.

A tall cross marks the edge of the mine shaft – visible as a depression in the ground – where the remains of Nicholas II, his family and four faithful retainers were first discarded after their brutal murder in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.

The horrific crime that took place here at the Four Brothers mine near the village of Koptyaki – 15 km north from Ekaterinburg – was carried out in the early morning hours of 17th July 1918, when the men who took part in the regicide, threw the bodies of the Imperial family and their four retainers into the mine.

The murderers returned the following night, retrieved the remains, and reburied them in two separate graves at Porosenkov Log, situated about 3.8 km away.

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

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In honour of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, a video history of the monastery has been prepared. It consists of three parts and describes a chronology of events from the life of the monastery at Ganina Yama, between 1990 to 2020.

Part I: the period from 1990 to 2000 (Duration: 2 minutes, 25 seconds)

Part II: the period from 2000 to 2003 (Duration: 3 minutes)

Part III: the period from 2004 to 2020 (Duration: 4 minutes, 20 seconds)

© Paul Gilbert. 13 November 2020

10,000 march in Royal Martyrs procession in Ekaterinburg

The Ekaterinburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church hosted its annual Divine Liturgy and Cross Procession in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs last night from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers in Ganina Yama.

Some 10,000 Orthodox faithful joined in the Cross Procession this year, from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, built on the site where the remains of Nicholas II, his family and four retainers were first callously discarded, before they were later reburied at Porosenkov Log some 1.3 km away.

The size of the procession was significantly reduced this year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The local authorities had urged the faithful not to participate. In 2018, 100,000 participated in the Divine Liturgy and Cross Procession on the 100th anniversary of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and 60,000 in 2019.

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The evening began with the Divine Liturgy celebrated on the square in front of the Church on the Blood by Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky , His Grace Bishop Methody of Kamensk, His Grace Bishop Evgeny of Nizhny Tagil, His Grace Bishop Alexei of Serov, and His Grace Bishop Leonid of Argentina and South America.

After the Divine Liturgy, the faithful began a 21-km Cross Procession, along the same route used to transport the murderers used to transport the bodies of the murdered Tsar Nicholas II and his family in 1918.

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The procession was accompanied throughout by mobile groups from the Orthodox Mercy service, Tsar’s Days volunteers, representatives from the Nika charitable foundation, and Cossacks of the Orenburg Military Cossack Society, all of whom provided various means of assistance to the pilgrims.

Around 6:00 AM, the procession headed by Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhotursky and the hierarchs and clergy reached the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, where the monks greeted the pilgrims with the ringing of the monastery bells.

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Upon arrival, a moleben was served to the Holy Royal Martyrs and Metropolitan Kirill addressed the faithful:

“We pray and believe that the Lord, through the prayers of the Holy Royal Martyrs and Confessors of our Church, still preserves our land and covers it with His Heavenly covering. We hope that with God’s help we will lead an Orthodox Christian way of life and will take an example from righteous people, such as the Holy Royal Family and their faithful retainers, and all those who laid down their lives for our homeland and our Holy Church. Through their prayers, the Lord will forgive and have mercy on all of us by the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Holy Royal Martyrs, and all the saints who have pleased God from time immemorial.”

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The Tsar’s Days celebrations continue tonight in Alapaevsk where the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodoron, the Nun Barbara, and Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, the Princes of the Imperial Blood Ioann (John) Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich, and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, and Grand Duke Sergei’s secretary Fyodor Remez were martyred on July 18, 1918.

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Святой Царь Мученик Николай, Моли Бога о Нас!
Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas II, Pray to God for Us!

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2020