First iconostasis in Russia dedicated to the Tsar’s family

PHOTO: Russia’s first iconostasis to the Holy Royal Martyrs
© Вести / Vesti News Agency

The first iconostasis in Russia dedicated to the Holy Royal Martyrs is being erected in the church of the St. Elisabeth Convent in the village of Priozerye, situated 120 km from Kaliningrad.

Within the walls of the church of the convent, preparations are underway for the installation of an icon depicting Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich. A prayer is said as the image takes its place in the iconostasis.

The convent is dedicated to the Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, but Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and his family are especially revered in the convent.

PHOTO: Entrance to St. Elisabeth Convent ;
monument to Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth

Nun Anastasia, Sister of the St. Elizabeth Convent, spoke to the Vesti News Agency this week, and stated the following:

“The iconostasis that is installed in our convent is dedicated to the Imperial Family and all the royal martyrs. It is unique in its kind for the whole of Russia. There is no such iconostasis anywhere else in Russia, only in our church.

“Once completed, the iconostasis will be in the shape of a cross. The images are distinguished by a special subtlety of writing. The colours of the elements: red, blue and gold stand out. The works were specially made for the convent by an artist from Kaliningrad.

“The top of the iconostasis will feature an icon of the Archangel Michael, then the icon of the Alapaevsk Martyrs, then Job the Long-Suffering. In the center are Tsarina Alexandra, Tsesarevich Alexei, and Tsar Nicholas II.

Once assembled, this unique iconostasis will stand as tall as a three-story building. It will become one of the main decorations of the convent cathedral.

At the base of the royal iconostasis will be an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos Theodorova, patroness of the Romanov family.”

© Paul Gilbert. 14 February 2021

New Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg confirms: “ROC in no hurry to recognize Ekaterinburg remains”

PHOTO: Bishop Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky

According to Bishop Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky the Russian Orthodox Church ( ROC ) will not rush to recognize the Ekaterinburg remains – those of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. The newly appointed metropolitan made the comments during a press conference held on Saturday, 12th December in Ekaterinburg. On 8th December 2020, by the decision of the Holy Synod, Vladyka Evgeny was appointed Metropolitan of the Ekaterinburg Diocese.

“I had an opportunity to communicate with those on the commission who investigated the remains … there are many arguments and evidence that these are indeed the remains of the Tsar and his family. But at the same time, there are still many questions that have not yet been answered. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia stated that the ROC is not in any hurry to complete their investigation by a certain date. We will wait for answers to these questions. This is not some kind of artifact … For us it is a matter of principle, these are holy passion-bearers, these are people who have played a significant role in the spiritual life of our people, and in the state, so the church is in no hurry, fulfilling the words of the holy patriarch,” added Vladyka Evgeny.

“The church will recognize the remains only if there is not an ounce of doubt. If doubts remain, then we will not rush, we will wait. We do not want to offend their memory by making hasty decisions,” he added.

In the summer of 2018, the official representative of the Investigative Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, said that a repeated comprehensive study confirmed the authenticity of the remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were shot on 17th July 1918 in Ekaterinburg.

Earlier, Evgeny Pchelov, associate professor of the Historical and Archival Institute of the Russian State Humanitarian University, who took part in the research, told journalists about the completion of the historical and archival examination, which, according to him, confirmed the authenticity of the “Ekaterinburg remains.” According to Pchelov, thanks to a comprehensive analysis of primary sources, it was possible to recreate a fairly complete picture of what happened in the days leading up to the deaths of the Imperial family, and the subsequent days which followed the brutal murder. He emphasized that some specific  questions remained unclear, but “the main picture was clarified.”

On 16th July 2018, the eve of the 100th anniversary marking the deaths of Nicholas II and his family, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation reported that since the resumption of the investigation in 2015, investigators carried out a wide range of new tests, including 37 different forensic examinations. In total, more than two thousand historical sources were analyzed.

The Investigative Committee stated that “on the basis of numerous expert examinations, the committee concluded that the remains belong to Nicholas II, his family and their four retainers.” At the same time, the committee noted that, “excluding the possibility of ambiguous interpretation of certain circumstances associated with the murders, other examinations necessary for the investigation shall continue.”

In addition, the investigation into the murder of Nicholas II and members of his family intends to identify all those involved in the execution and qualify their actions in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. This part of the investigation is extremely important! Should the *regicides be found guilty of their heinous crime, then lawmakers and historians will be forced to rewrite history. It is a well known fact that after the murders of the Tsar and his family, that many of the *murderers [Yurovsky, Ernakov, etc.] enjoyed a “celebrity” status among the Bolsheviks and revolutionaries. To now find them guilty of their crime a century later, this then clears the way for the names of streets, squares and buildings named in their “honour” of these criminals to be changed, and the removal of any monuments and memorials from the Russian landscape.

*For more information on the regicides, please read my article: The fate of the regicides who murdered Nicholas II and his family, published on 28th October 2020 – PG

Human remains, presumably belonging to the Imperial family, were found in July 1991 on the Old Koptyakovskaya road near Ekaterinburg. The remains of nine people were found in the grave. Forensic studies confirmed the identity of the remains as those of Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, three of their five children and their four retainers.

In July 2007, during archaeological excavations south of the site of the first burial, the remains of two more people were found, presumably Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister Maria. Forensic studies concluded the identity of the remains as those of Alexei and Maria.

In 2000, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized Nicholas II and his family members as passion-bearers. After the opening of the burial near Yekaterinburg, the remains of members of the imperial family were buried in St. Catherine’s Chapel of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. However, the Church did not recognize these remains as genuine due to a lack of evidence. In the fall of 2015, the investigation into the death of the Imperial family was reopened.

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


CLICK on the IMAGE above or the LINK below to order my book
‘Bones of Contention: The Russian Orthodox Church and the Ekaterinburg Remains’
Published 2020. 156 pages + 55 illustrations. Price: $20 + postage

© Paul Gilbert. 13 December 2020

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!


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

20th anniversary of the Canonization of Nicholas II and his family


Bas-relief on the wall of the Chapel of the Royal Passion-Bearers in Kostroma

On this day – 20th August 2000 – after much debate, Emperor Nicholas II and his family were canonized as passion bearers by the Moscow Patriarchate

The Moscow Patriarchate canonized the family as passion bearers: people who face death with resignation, in a Christ-like manner, as distinguished from martyrs, the latter historically killed for their faith. Proponents cited the piety of the family and reports that the Tsarina and her eldest daughter Olga prayed and attempted to make the sign of the cross immediately before they died.

The term “passion-bearer” is used in relation to those Russian saints who, “imitating Christ, endured with patience physical, moral suffering and death at the hands of political opponents. In the history of the Russian Church, such passion-bearers were the holy noble princes Boris and Gleb (1015), Igor of Chernigov (+ 1147), Andrei Bogolyubsky (+ 1174), Mikhail of Tverskoy (+ 1318), Tsarevich Dimitri (+ 1591). All of them, by their feat of passion-bearers, showed a high example of Christian morality and patience.

Despite their official designation as “passion-bearers” by the August 2000 Council, Nicholas II and his family are referred to as “martyrs” in Church publications, icons, and in popular veneration by the people.

NOTE: The family was canonized on 1st November 1981 as new martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

This bas-relief also depicts their servants, who had been killed along with the Imperial family. They were also canonized as new martyrs by the ROCOR in 1981 The canonized servants were Yevgeny Botkin, court physician; Alexei Trupp, footman; Ivan Kharitonov, cook; and Anna Demidova, Alexandra’s maid. Also canonized were two servants killed in September 1918, lady in waiting Anastasia Hendrikova and tutor Catherine Adolphovna Schneider. All were canonized as victims of oppression by the Bolsheviks.

On 3 February 2016, the Bishop’s Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) canonized Dr. Botkin as a righteous passion bearer. They did not canonize the servants, two of whom were not Russian Orthodox: Trupp was Roman Catholic, and Schneider was Lutheran.

© Paul Gilbert. 20 August 2020

Documentary – The Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths

Daria Strizhova talks with Elena Chavchavadze about her new documentary. Please note that this video is only available in Russian (click on the image above to watch)

On July 19, the television channel Russia-1 showed the second film of “The Murder of the Romanovs” documentary project. This new Russian-language documentary sheds light on one of the most tragic pages in the history of the Russian state.

The first film, “Regicide: A Century-long Investigation” tells about the origins of the investigation into the murder of the Imperial Family. The second part, “Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths” is the result of the painstaking research work by E. N. Chavchavadze and G. I. Ogurnaya—who together, introduce the viewer to unique archival documents.

—Elena Nikolaevna, tell us about the background of making these films dedicated to the Imperial Family. How did it all begin?

—Part of the code of honor for me and my family is to always seek the truth in everything. By the time we started working on the films on the murder of the Romanov Dynasty for the TV channel Russia, we had already filmed five episodes of the series, “Romanovs: A Royal Matter,” “War and Peace of Alexander I,” “Alexander III: Strong, Powerful.” The material itself showed us which direction to go next. And it was impossible to avoid the topic of regicide.

I was worried, realizing that the topic is too big. Let’s recall the words of Voykov who said: “The world will never find out what we did to them.” This poses a challenge to researchers. Is it possible to unravel this tragic mystery? But you know how it is: Fear has big eyes. As far as I know, a number of fundamental studies by anthropologists, criminologists, geneticists, graphologists, and other scientists are nearing completion. And we hope that the next film in the cycle will be dedicated to the results of this long-term work.

—Your film is called, “Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths.” I’d like to dwell on this in more detail. What is a fact and what is a deliberately created myth? The film quotes Lenin’s words: “We don’t need to tell Joffe the truth (about the murder), so it will be easier for him to lie later.”

—We tried to clearly show the mechanism by which a myth turns into fact, and a fact becomes a myth and dissolves with time.

I must say that the plan of “blurring” the truth worked on a global level. All the Bolsheviks’ negotiations and diplomatic correspondence was constructed so as to divert suspicion away from the top of the Soviet leadership. This is a very thoughtful, masterly calculation. Only such a position would have allowed them to remain in power, as at that time they were entirely dependent upon Germany.

And how “interesting” the newspaper articles were! How well they were edited—again with an understanding of the colossal power of influence on the public consciousness! It’s in the papers, so it must be true.

When the investigator Sokolov managed, with much difficulty, through Prince Orlov’s agency in Russia, to get an agitation pamphlet talking about the murder of the Imperial Family while he was in France, he included it to the case. But this primitive article, intended for the proletariat, had been carefully edited by someone by then. We don’t know who the editor was, but probably it was Pokrovsky, a famous falsifier of history. But he was certainly a very astute man. But unfortunately, Sokolov took it all at face value. And today many people adhere to the theory that was presented in his book, because it was the only work on the topic of regicide at the time. And given that the book was created under certain conditions, under the pressure of the circumstances, and on the basis of such obviously unreliable documents, who will figure out the truth? The investigator Sokolov did a great job, and no one belittles the significance of his works for history. But, you know, the details settle everything.

—Unfortunately, the majority form their personal opinion not based on documents, not on the materials of the investigation, but on articles in the press and online. How many books have been written justifying this or that theory!

—And therefore, I think it’s necessary to dive into the archival material, to compare facts. Who was familiar with whom and when; where could this or that declaration have come from? Beginning my work on the film, the director G. Ogurnaya and I decided not to stick to any of the previously voiced theories. We simply did our work, during which connections and details started to emerge. Our films feature previously unknown documents that have only now become available—in particular, the note of Colonel Baftalovsky, which is of great interest. It is the testimony of the officers who were the first to arrive at Ganina Yama.

—There is an opinion, including from experts, that they could in no way have destroyed their bodies at Ganina Yama; and there are opposite statements as well. This is difficult to understand…

—Clothing and personal items were burned. Baftalovsky’s note is a very important testimony. Undoubtedly, the interest around this topic is so great that various people sprout up like mushrooms in the information space, clearly and colorfully expounding various theories. And amateur trackers—they are innumerable—sometimes write appalling nonsense. But people believe them, revere them, and look up to them. But there is another position, which was voiced by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, and for us it is the only true and possible one: it is the path of painstaking work and conscientious scientific methods. I believe the truth will be voiced by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The first film—“Regicide: A Century-long Investigation”—is dedicated exclusively to the murder that was committed in the Ipatiev House. The second film—“Murder of the Romanovs: Facts and Myths,” which was aired thanks to the channel Russia-1 and the History of the Fatherland Foundation—covers a short period of time in the summer of 1918 and reveals a certain connection between three crimes. At first we had the idea of focusing more on each of the events and making an individual film for each—on Perm, Alapaevsk, and Ekaterinburg—and we could have gathered enough material for this. But, unfortunately, we were limited by screen time. So we tried to isolate the main points.

Even now you can find opinions among the researchers dealing with the Romanovs that, for example, Alapaevsk (the murder of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth) and Perm (the murder of Grand Duke Michael) were both the decision of the local Council of People’s Commissars. Gabriel Myasnikov, for example, wrote an entire book about this. But when we went to Perm and started talking with people who work in the archives with the originals, we were presented a completely different picture. We were fortunate enough to meet some wonderful archivists.

—You managed to convey their very conscientious attitude to the work: It’s not just an academic interest, but a deep personal experience.

—People work for decades with great love for their inconspicuous but extremely important work, not expecting any encouragement or reward. They know their topic incredibly well. As you have correctly noted, they perceive what happened as if it happened yesterday in front of their eyes. Just like us, they perceive these events very deeply, and I’m glad that our joint work on the film expands our circle of not only professional acquaintances, but also personal ones.

—The film provides a unique archival audio recording. How did you manage to get it?

—It’s a restored archival audio recording that was preserved as “top secret.” It just recently became available to researchers, and, indeed, it sheds light on many facts. Other materials are stored in the Russian state archive of socio-political history. Many storylines from this story were not included in the film. We would be happy to continue this work, but not before all the appointed examinations are finished. This is science, not the pursuit of spectacular sensations. Even if the resolution of the investigation doesn’t suit someone, or disappoints someone, or someone says: “No, it can’t be,” because some materials came from people who aren’t very religious, for example—it’s still an insufficient argument.

—How much only the information trail from Geliy Ryabov is worth…

—Geliy Ryabov became a believer in much thanks to what happened. He spoke with Archpriest Alexander Shargunov and passed on some of his findings to him. We filmed Fr. Alexander for “Regicide: A Century-long Investigation.” Ryabov’s second wife told us a lot. All the circumstances of his story turned out to be simpler and more logical, and in the end, everything really falls into place, like pieces of a puzzle.¹

The murder of Tsar Nicholas II is spoken of as a ritual act, but it would be more correct to speak of it as sacred; and I, as a researcher, cannot completely deny this. But to be fair, it should be said that when we were in New York, working with newspapers published before the revolutionary events of 1917, we came across cartoons in articles about Russia where the head of Emperor Nicholas II was drawn separately. Can be this be considered an argument for the theory about his decapitation? I don’t think so. Why would they have carried his head to Moscow, thus taking a completely unjustified risk, since random people could have witnessed it? And as you’ve probably already realized from the documents presented in our film, the last thing in the world Lenin and his cohorts wanted was to be connected with the murder of Emperor Nicholas—for political gain, of course. And these people knew how to appreciate benefits.

—In other words, the expression “sacred murder” has a symbolic meaning?

—The expression “sacred murder” is just not only in relation to the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, but first of all to Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich, who in fact was the main contender for the Russian throne.

The reception of power was postponed until the Constituent Assembly was called. And if Kolchak had managed to win, no doubt the Constituent or National Assembly would have been called first. It’s quite likely that it would have called Michael Alexandrovich to head the state, because the dynasty was not interrupted. The Pavlovian Laws (the Act of Succession of 1797) provided that if someone leaves, then another member of the dynasty is placed on the throne by force of law, “so the state wouldn’t be without heirs, so the heir would be appointed by the law itself, so there wouldn’t be even the slightest doubt as to who is to inherit, so as to preserve the right of birth in the inheritance, without violating the rights of the natural heir, and to avoid difficulties in the transition from generation to generation.”

That’s why the murder of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich was first. The Bolsheviks weren’t sure of their position; they had to hurry. According to the documentary evidence, the greatest amount of disinformation was aimed at concealing the murder of Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich.

As bitter as it is to realize, investigator Sokolov and other researchers paid very little attention to the investigation in Perm. The official story is that it was a disappearance. A man disappeared. He was there, and then he suddenly disappeared. There was a lot of evidence that he was seen here and there, then in Harbin, then somewhere else. The officers swore they caught a glimpse of him in the crowd—a mass psychosis, an unwillingness to accept the reality. If Michael Alexandrovich is alive—no matter where—it means they have hope. And Russia has hope. Do you get it? This is a very deep motive. And it is this motive that can cast doubt on all such evidence taken together.

When we put the three murders in a line, a lot of things became obvious. At that time, the English Consul Preston—who reported in London on what was happening—was in Ekaterinburg, along with a mass of representatives of international organizations, including the American, Finnish, and Swedish Red Cross. It was full of outside observers. The Brest Peace, which was treasonous to Russia, had already been concluded. The Germans were sitting in the Council of People’s Commissars—just like the Americans sat in our government under Chubais² a few decades later.

—There is the view that a “ticking time bomb” was placed under the edifice of the Russian state at this time. What do you think about this?

—I agree with this hypothesis. It’s no accident that the name “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” doesn’t have the word “Russia” in it. An interesting fact: In August 1916 in Switzerland, there was a meeting of bankers from warring powers, including Germany, to which Russia was not invited.

Russia was to be divided into spheres of influence according to the principle of divide and conquer. This would have been impossible to do under the existing monarchy. Lenin was entrusted with ensuring that Russia lose the war. The plan was to have Russia leave the war through the revolution and, as a result, violate the agreements with its allies about how no one warring party should conclude a separate peace treaty. This would automatically exclude Russia from the list of future winners, which is what happened. A massive information attack to discredit Tsar Nicholas II was carried out throughout the entire world. When we were dealing with this historical period for the film “Revolution: A Trap for Russia” and were communicating with English researchers, they said that in England society was even more certain than in Russia that revolution was coming in Russia, that the Tsaritsa was a German spy, and that everything was controlled by Gregory Rasputin, and so on. That’s how the propaganda worked.


—One of the conclusions of your film is that the facts of the history are very malleable, and to establish the truth, we still have to reexamine and reevaluate our past. The question for modern man is: If this was done on such a scale and with such success, is it possible that the mechanism turning myths into facts is still active today?

—Of course. We see this in the example of our brothers in Ukraine, or if we look at what is happening in the United States right now. If we replace the word “proletariat” with “black,” we’ll get a traced copy of the events of a century ago in Russia. The scenery changes, but the rhetoric remains the same: “oppressors and the oppressed”—it’s nothing new.

There’s an expression: You have to accept your past, your successes, and your failures. It seems to me this is happening in Russia now. The best thing we can do is to accept the historical truth. It’s my Russia, and I accept its history as God gave it to us, to paraphrase Pushkin.


1. Together with Alexander Avdonin, in 1979, Ryabov discovered the remains that are believed to belong to the Royal Martyrs.—Trans.

2. A Russian politician and businessman who was responsible for privatization in Russia as an influential member of Boris Yeltsin’s administration in the early 1990s—Trans.

© Daria Strizhova / Translated by Jesse Dominick. 27 July 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.









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.







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.


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.”


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.


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

© Paul Gilbert. 17 July 2020

The face of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II seen July 1919


Did White Russian soldiers see a vision of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II in July 1919?

According to the memoirs of the wife of the commander of the 1st Izhevsk Rifle Regiment – Vera Mikhailovna Mikhailova, who, along with her husband, were fleeing across Russia during the Civil War to the safety of the Far East, they did!

“It was a day impossible to forget,” wrote Vera Mikhailovna Mikhailova in her diary:

“During the month of July 1919 the heat was incredible, the humidity unbearable. Our 1st Izhevsk Regiment, made up of volunteers, mostly workers of the Izhevsk arms factory, were tormented by raids of partisan gangs and Bolshevik sympathizers. All the time it was necessary to fight back, to drive them back to drive them out of the area they occupied. This lasted for several days.

“Finally, after many days of fierce, bloody battles, our regiment was given a reprieve. The situation was terrible: it was no longer a brave military regiment, but a group of tortured, tired men, who were barely alive. Their tunic collars were unfastened, their belts loose and dangling, their legs weak. Many, shuffled their feet as they walked, raising dust along the way. Some held on to each other so as not to fall, others fell from sheer exhaustion. The heat was pestering, terrible, we were thirsty, our mouths dry, and not a drop of water to be had – all the reserves had run out.

“The sky is clear, blue, not a cloud to be seen. The sun burns mercilessly. Suddenly a loud piercing cry is heard:

“Look at the sky!” Everyone instantly woke up, stopped, raised their heavy heads, and the following vision appeared before them: a large white disk appeared in the sky, and on it appears the profile of the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, very clear and precise.

“Everyone froze at the sight of this wonderful phenomenon. Then, raising their hands to the sky, they began to desperately shout: “Tsar! Sovereign, Father Tsar!” … And then they knelt down and began to pray earnestly and ask: “Tsar … Sovereign … Father Tsar, help us, pray for us …” It is hard to say how long this vision lasted, but it seemed for a long time. Then gradually the vision began to turn pale and completely disappeared. It became the same blue sky, without a single cloud to be seen.

“Suddenly a command was heard: “Get up! Be strong! Attention! March!” Everyone immediately came to life and walked with a brisk military step. Faces were cheerful, joyful. Everything was forgotten: thirst, hunger, heat, fatigue. All the while their eyes were fixed on the sky and in a whisper they said: “He is here! … With us … He prays for us!”.

“When the excitement subsided, the men began asking questions: “What year is it?”. . . “Year? It is the nineteenth …” . . . “And what is the month and day?” . . . “July” . . . After continuous heavy battles the men had lost track of time. The rebirth of these men, tormented by heat, fatigue, thirst, barely alive – into a group of healthy, strong and vigorous combat soldiers, how can this be explained? How is this not fiction, a dream, or an hallucination! I myself was a witness to everything seen and heard.

“Maybe, and probably, there is still someone alive who saw and was present at this miracle, I ask them to respond and confirm. And to add, if that I forgot, missed. Please remind!

“Many decades have since passed. But every year in the month of July, I am nervous and terribly worried, as if all this happened yesterday. The whole vision of what happened clearly stands before my eyes, which have long been senile. And back then, in 1919 I was 23 years old …

“I personally am sure that this miraculous phenomenon and occurred precisely on July 17, when the Tsar seemed to say goodbye forever to his beloved troops.”

© Paul Gilbert. 12 July 2020

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


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.


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

‘Nicholas II: The Last Orthodox Tsar of Russia’ with Paul Gilbert

Emperor Nicholas II reigned for 22 years. With his murder, the last Orthodox Christian monarch, along with the thousand-year history of thrones and crowns in Russia, ended, ushering in an era of lawlessness, apostasy, and confusion, one which would sweep Holy Orthodox Russia into an abyss which would last more than 70 years.

This new video production is based on the research of project colleague and independent researcher Paul Gilbert, who also presents this video.

In the first 24 hours of it’s release on YouTube, some 3,000 people had watched the video!

The creators have done a remarkable job of incorporating a wonderful collection of photos – both vintage B&W and colourized by Olga Shirnina (aka KLIMBIM) – vintage newsreel film footage and music.


Vintage B&W photo of Nicholas II colourized by Olga Shirnina (aka KLIMBIM)

One viewer noted on his Facebook page: “Only 20 minutes long, this is the BEST portrayal of the last Tsar’s Orthodox faith I have ever seen. Very well-made, historical and moving.”

The crowning moment of the video is near the end, which shows film footage of the actual canonization ceremony performed on 20th August 2000 by Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. You can hear His Holiness calling out each of the names of the Imperial Family. The footage is extremely moving to watch.

This 20-minute video is presented in the framework of the production of the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal published by Mesa Potamos Publications in 2019.


The Romanov Royal Martyrs is an impressive 512-page book, featuring nearly 200 black & white photographs, and a 56-page photo insert of more than 80 high-quality images, colourized by the acclaimed Russian artist Olga Shirnina (Klimbim), and appearing here in print for the first time.

Click HERE to read my review Romanov Book of the Year: The Romanov Royal Martyrs

Click HERE to explore the book. Click HERE to order the book


I am truly honoured to be a research colleague of this important publishing project. I am most grateful to Father Prodromos Nikolaou and the Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner of Mesa Potamos in Cyprus for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this new video which tells the story about Russia’s last Orthodox Christian monarch.

This is my second video produced within the framework of the production of the book The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal published by Mesa Potamos Publications in 2019. My first video The Conspiracy Against Nicholas II was released in 2018 with more than 32,000 views to date:

© Paul Gilbert / Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner of Mesa Potamos. 9 July 2020

Program for Royal Days 2020 in Ekaterinburg


The Church on the Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg

The Moscow Patriarchate and the Ekaterinburg Diocese have confirmed that the Royal Days [aka Tsar’s or Imperial Days] will be held from July 12 to 20, 2020.

A series of memorable ceremonial events symbolizing the unity of the Russian people in their understanding of the history of the Fatherland, the ongoing rehabilitation of the good names of the emperor and his family, and the unification of the Church of Christ and traditional values. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all events will be held in compliance with all necessary safety and sanitary measures.

The main event will be held on the night of 16/17 July, when a Divine Liturgy will be performed at the Church on the Blood, where the lives of Emperor Nicholas II along with his family and four faithful servants tragically ended. The Divine Liturgy will be followed by a 21-km Cross procession to the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

On July 12th, the day marking the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the XIX Royal Days Festival of Orthodox Culture will begin.


Pilgrims gather outside the Church on the Blood on 16th July 2018

XIX Royal Days Festival of Orthodox Culture

The XIX Royal Days Festival of Orthodox Culture in the Ural capital, will feature several dozen religious and secular events of various formats honouring the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

A cultural program has been planned, which includes cultural, historical, musical and educational events, museum and library exhibitions, concerts, lectures and meetings with Russian historians and writers.

The festival will be held in the conference hall and the Tsarsky Spiritual and Educational Center, located in of the Patriarchal Compound on the grounds of the Church on the Blood.


Pilgrim holds a portrait of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

The bell ringing festival “Evangelize, the Land of the Urals!” also opens on July 12th. A bell ringing concert will he held in the square in front of the Great Zlatoust Church, which features a magnificent bell tower. The concert will be attended by the ringer of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis, the choir of the Great Zlatoust Church; and poetry readings by priest Victor Yavich.

On the same day, July 12, an Open Gymnastics Championship will be held on the embankment of the city pond facing the Church on the Blood. The event is dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II – the founder of the Olympic movement in Russia.


Thousands gather outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July


Thousands gather outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July


Thousands gather outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July

The main events of the Royal Days

The main events of the Royal Days will begin on July 15 when a Divine Liturgy will be performed in the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

Then culminating events will be held on July 16 and 17.

On July 16, at 13:00, a small daytime procession will be held along the Ekaterinburg Way of Sorrow to mark the arrival of the Royal Martyrs in Ekaterinburg from Shartash Station (149 Kuybyshev St.) to the Church on the Blood (built on the site of the Ipatiev House) on 30th April 1918 [Nicholas II, Alexandra and their daughter Maria arrived, Olga, Tatiana, Anastasia and Alexei arrived several weeks later].

Then, at 15:00, Vespers will be held with the Akathist to the Holy Royal Martyrs in the Lower Church of the Church on the Blood,

At 16:30, an all-night vigil will begin on Ulitsa Tsarskaya, in front of the Church on the Blood.

At 17:00 there will be an all-night vigil in the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

At 23:30 the main service of the Tsarist days – the night Divine Liturgy will commence in front of the Church on the Blood on  Ulitsa Tsarskaya. The service will end in the early hours of July 17, after which at 02:30 Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye will lead the Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs – a journey of 21 km. This year’s procession is expected to attract tens of thousands of pilgrims from across Russia [As Russia’s borders are currently closed to foreigners, this year’s Tsar’s Days events will only be attended by Russian citizens]. Upon the arrival of the procession at Ganina Yama, a prayer service will be held for the Holy Royal Martyrs. 

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. In 2019, some 60,000 pilgrims took part.


Святы Царственные мученики, молите Бога о нас!

Royal days in Alapaevsk

The Royal Days will continue with the Remembrance Days of the Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova and the *Alapaevsk Martyrs, which will be held in Alapaevsk – 148 km northeast of Ekaterinburg.

On July 17 at 17:00 an all-night vigil will begin in the Monastery of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church in the city of Alapaevsk.

On July 18, at 00:00, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in the Holy Trinity Bishop’s Metochion of Alapaevsk, and at 02:30 a prayer service will be held with the singing of an Akathist to the Holy Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Varvara.

At 03:30 at the end of the Liturgy, a procession will begin from the Holy Trinity Bishop’s Compound in Alapaevsk to the School and further to the Monastery of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, built on the site where the bodies of the *Alapaevsk Martyrs were dumped into the mine alive on the night of July 18, 1918.  At 05:30 and 09:00, two Divine Liturgies will be performed there.

*The Alapaevsk victims included: Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Princes of the Imperial Blood Ioann, Konstantine and Igor Konstantinovich, Prince Vladimir Paley (son of Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich), and two faithful servants:sister of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent Varvara (Yakovleva), and Fyodor Semyonovich (Mikhailovich) Remez, secretary of the Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich.

SOURCE: Ekaterinburg Diocese Press Release

© Paul Gilbert. 3 July 2020