22nd 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 (above) 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 2022

Night Liturgy at Tsarskoye Selo, 16/17 July 2022

PHOTO: the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo

On the night of 16/17 July, a solemn Divine Liturgy was held in the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo, in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs who were murdered that same date in 1918, in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg.

A large number of worshipers gathered for the Divine Litury, led by the rector of the cathedral, Father Herman Ranne, co-served by the clergy of the cathedral.

Every year on this day, people from Pushkin [Tsarskoye Selo], St. Petersburg and other towns, come to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral to prayerfully honour the memory of the last Russian emperor and his family.

Following the Divine Liturgy, a Cross Procession was held around the cathedral.

A brief history of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral

On 2nd September (O.S. 20th August) 1909, Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II laid the first foundation stone for the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral in Tsarskoye Selo, which became the house church of the Imperial Family, while they were in residence in the nearby Alexander Palace.

A solemn Divine Liturgy was performed by His Grace Theophan, Bishop of Yamburg (1872-1940), attended by the Emperor and members of his family. The cathedral was built in the old Russian style. Three years later, on the same day in 1912, the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was consecrated.

The Cave Church, situated in the Lower Church, where the Imperial Family came to pray, was consecrated in memory of St. Seraphim of Sarov (there was a special “royal room” in the church), and the upper church was consecrated in memory of the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God, the patron icon of the Romanov family. During the days of Great Lent, the Emperor remained to pray in the church until late at night.

After the revolution, the cathedral was closed, it was badly damaged during the Great Patriotic War. In 1991 the cathedral was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, restoration of the Cathedral lasted nearly 20 years.. Russia’s first monument to Nicholas II was established on the grounds of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral in 1993.

Click HERE to view more colour photos of the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral, during a visit by a modern-day group of Cossacks in January 2020

PHOTO: worshipers gather at the monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, located in the garden behind the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral

First monument to Nicholas II in Post-Soviet Russia

Situated in the garden behind the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo, is the monument to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, created by the St. Petersburg sculptor Victor Vladimirovich Zaiko (born 1944).

Erected and consecrated on 17th July 1993, it was the first monument to Nicholas II to be erected in Post-Soviet Russia.

The monument stands in front of a small group of oak trees, seen in the background, which were planted by Nicholas II and his family on 4 May (O.S. 21 April) 1913. Of the seven trees planted, only four have survived to the present day.

© Paul Gilbert. 21 July 2022

Prayer to the Holy Martyred Tsar Nicholas II

The night of 16/17 July 1918, marks the eve of the 104th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia Nikolaevna and Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich.

Please remember to light a candle this evening in honour of their memory . . .

Prayer to the Holy Martyred Tsar Nicholas II

O holy martyred Tsar and passion-bearer Nicholas, the Lord chose thee as His anointed to be the preserver of the Orthodox realm and to judge thy people with mercy and justice.

And with the fear of God thou didst accomplish royal ministry and show care for souls.

And testing thee, like gold in a crucible, the Lord permitted bitter tribulations to assail thee, like Job the much-suffering, and afterwards He sent upon thee the deprivation of thy royal throne and a martyr’s death.

And all these didst thou meekly endure, as a true servant of Christ, and thou dost now delight in the glory which is on high at the throne of the King of all, together with the holy martyrs: the holy Tsaritsa Alexandra, the holy youth the Tsarevich Alexis, the holy Tsarevnas Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and thy faithful servants, as well as the holy martyred Princess Elizabeth and all the royal martyrs and the holy martyr Barbara.

But as thou hast great boldness before Christ the King, for Whose sake ye all suffered, pray with them, that the Lord forgive the sins of the people which did not hinder the murder of thee, the Tsar and anointed of God, that the Lord deliver the suffering land of Russia from the cruel godless ones who have been permitted to torment us for our sins and falling away from God, and that He restore the throne of Orthodox kings and grant us remission of sins, and instruct us in all the virtues, that we may acquire meekness, humility and love, which these holy martyrs showed forth, that we may be accounted worthy of the heavenly Kingdom, where with thee and all the holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia, we may glorify the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.


Holy Royal Martyrs
Tsar Nicholas II and Family
Pray Unto God For Us!
Glory Be To God For All Things!

© Paul Gilbert. 16 July 2022

In Memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs

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

During this month, in which we sadly recall the regicide at Ekaterinburg on 17th July 1918, we also continue to honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs throughout the year.

I am dedicated to clearing the name of Russia’s much slandered Tsar. I devote many hours, researching new works from Russian media and archival sources, and have them translated to English. These documents help to challenge and dismiss the many lies and myths about Russia’s last Tsar, which have have endured for more than a century.

Translating news and articles to English is very costly, therefore, I am reaching out to you for assistance, by making a donation to my work. Thank you for your consideration.


© Paul Gilbert. 14 July 2022

Metropolitan Eugene calls for conciliar prayer during Tsar’s Days

PHOTO: Metropolitan Evgeny of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye

During an interview on 10th July, Metropolitan Evgeny of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye spoke about the spiritual significance of the 30th anniversary of Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg.

“People of all faiths and nationalities come to the Urals to honour the memory of the Imperial Family. Why? Because they understand that the events which took place in Ekaterinburg in 1918, changed the history of the entire world. They also understand that the personality of Emperor Nicholas II was so significant that people want to know more about his life and reign, get closer to him, to draw from this historical and cultural well, draw living water, touch this beautiful family,” said Metropolitan Evgeny.

“And, of course, for believers, this is a particularly significant event, because the Imperial family is a holy family. And to turn to them, especially in these dark days, when we see that again, like a hundred years ago, the destinies of the world are being redrawn – this is very important. We pay serious attention to the preparation of this festival and hope that every person who has visited our region, who comes to our city during Tsar’s Days, will find what they are looking for.”

Vladyka also spoke about a free mobile application that allows pilgrims to keep track of daily event in the festival program.

“This is an application in which we publish the entire schedule of events, as well as important information for pilgrims during Tsar’s Days. It details dates and times of cultural events, church service, as well as detailed information for those who wish to participate in the Cross Procession, which, according to tradition, will take place on the night of July 16-17, from the Church on the Blood, along the streets of Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama.

“In addition is the historical forum, which which will take place on 16th July, in the Patriarchal Compound adjacent to the Church on the Blood. This can also be found in the application.”

Can you tell us about both the first White Flower Festival and the planting of Lilac Alley at Ganina Yama. Are we seeing the birth of some new tradition? Or is it a special preparation?

“One beautiful tradition succeeds another. The exhibition of ice sculptures has already become traditional, which takes place around Orthodox Christmas in January, near the Church on the Blood and decorates our city for almost the entire winter. The White Flower Festival is a tradition which was founded by the Imperial Family in the early 20th century. This year it has taken on a special scale, with the addition of the White Flower Festival, which showcases beautiful floral arrangements. They have already attracted the interest of many residents of the city, and became a highlight of the month of June.

“I believe that as these beautiful flowers continue to bloom and grow, so will this new tradition also grow, and that it will be a welcome addition to the framework of the Tsar’s Days Festival. I believe that the flowers and the number of compositions will increase from year to year. And, of course, the flowers and ice compositions, will be beautiful reminders to both residents and visitors, of the Holy Royal Martyrs, for whom we honour.”

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. There have already been many exhibitions marking this historic anniversary.

“Yes, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was a remarkable woman. A devoted wife and mother. Today, we can learn how our modern day families can learn from the examples set by Alexandra Fedorovna. And we are trying in the year of the 150th anniversary of her birth (she did not live to experience her 50th anniversary), to somehow compensate for this, learn from her and bring some light from the holy family to our contemporaries.”

Every year we try to remember the servants of the Tsar, who also endured the same fate and martyrdom. How will they be honoured this year?

“Last month, we opened a monument dedicated to four faithful servants to Nicholas II, on the grounds of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent. When the Imperial family were arrested, everyone was free to pack their things and return home, to their relatives, or to leave the country. Instead, they followed their personal oath that was given them, a sense of duty and remained with the Family. While many retainers followed the Imperial family into exile to Tobolsk, very few of them followed them further when the family was transfered to Ekaterinburg. We remember and honour the faithful generals, sailors, among others who died together with the Tsar’s family in the basement of the Ipatiev House, as well as those who were excommunicated from their families, and those shot in other places of our city and region.

“When we understand that such people lived in our country, in our history, they set examples on how we can follow their examples of faith and duty. We can encourage our children to strive to be like them. When we learn about them, we can then appreciate and understand the amazing lives and fates of those people who remained faithful to the end.”

There is an interesting story connected with this monument. Is it true, that the sisters of the convent created the sketch for it?

“Yes. The sisters of the convent created a sketch for this monument. The beauty which we see today, within the walls of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, include beautiful architecure, landscaping which includes newly planted flowers and trees – this is the inner beauty in which the sisters of the convent live and which they embody around themselves. Orthodox Christians and other visitors can experience this wonderful world, this ray of light which comes from the kingdom of heaven to us here on earth. It is very beautiful.”

“Praying is always important. And why is it especially important at this time of year?

“When some kind of danger, illness, or trouble comes into our lives and a person feels helpless, the impossibility of humanly changing the situation for the better, they then turn to God.

“I myself am a witness to this, and I know that a lot of the people who make the Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama on the night of July 16-17, it is clear that they are not just walking, they are also praying. And these prayers, according to the testimonies of these pilgrims, they very clearly, distinctly reach the one to whom they are addressed and return with special events, positive events in their lives. And in this regard, of course, I would urge and invite residents of the city and region, to come and pray for our Motherland, to pray for our country. God is able to fulfill our prayers, so I invite you to get together and make such a prayer feat.”

© Paul Gilbert. 14 July 2022

American Tsarism – A Sermon for the Feast of the Royal Martyrs of Russia

This article was originally published on 17th July 2021, on the web site of the Holy Cross Monastery, a monastic community of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), situated in Wayne, West Virginia, USA. Click HERE to make a donation to the Holy Cross Monastery.

I remember the first time I saw a portrait of Tsar Nicholas II in a church. As a recent American convert to Orthodoxy, it seemed strange to me, and something within me bristled. Not surprisingly, most Americans are uneasy with the concept of monarchy. Our nation was born in casting off the rule of a monarch and the founding a democratic republic. We have always defined ourselves in opposition to the antiquated ways and entrenched hierarchies of the Old World. And now, the Church sets before us the last living representatives of that order for our pious admiration and veneration.

What are we to make of this as Americans? For us, the words “czar” and “autocrat” have the negative connotations of someone who wields power in an arbitrary or oppressive manner. They are practically synonymous with “tyrant” and “despot”. The voice of the inner cynic suggests that the canonization of the last Tsar and his family is just an expression of Russian chauvinism and reactionary nostalgia for a time when the Orthodox Church enjoyed the patronage of the State. Why should a repressive Russian tyrant command the affection and devotion of an American heart reared on the ideals of liberty and democracy? Perhaps your inner cynic has never had such thoughts, but mine has, and others like them—Were the Royal Martyrs really deserving of sainthood? They did not perform any miracles in their lifetime. Were they even truly martyrs? For unlike the martyrs of the early Church, they were not killed by state-sanctioned persecutors simply for confessing Christ; rather, they were killed precisely because they represented and embodied the very conjunction of State power and the Christian faith.

The presence of their relics here in our little chapel tells us that the last Royal Family of Russia is not meant for Russia alone, but for Christians of all peoples and nations. First, though, we may have to set aside the objections of the cynic, the distortions of history, and our American political prejudices, and simply encounter this holy family as fellow human beings and fellow Christians. If we are willing to do so, then no sensitive heart can fail to be moved by their lives, to be drawn by the beauty of their virtues, to be struck by the horror of their slaughter, and to be in awe of their ultimate sacrifice.

On this human level, there is indeed much to admire about Tsar Nicholas II. He was a deeply and sincerely pious man, a patriot in the truest sense of the word, a devoted husband, and a loving father. Born on the feast-day of Righteous Job the much-suffering, he had a clear sense of the historic tragedy that was his providential lot to live through. He understood his role as Tsar to be a charge from God, and he accepted it self-sacrificially, ready to bear any suffering in order to fulfill his sacred calling.

Secular historians often judge him to be a weak and ineffective ruler. Instead, it is the modernizing and Westernizing rulers Peter I and Catherine II whom they remember as “the Great”. And from the point of view of their earthly accomplishments, they were indeed great. But things appear differently from the Church’s point of view. During the reign of “the Greats” the Moscow Patriarchate was abolished, and the Russian Church was reorganized as a department of state, on the model of certain Protestant Churches in Western Europe; monasteries were closed, their lands taken; obstacles were created to prevent young men and women from entering monastic life; the eremitical life was outlawed.

The pious Tsar Nicholas had a much different attitude to the Church. During his reign the first steps were taken to restore the Patriarchate, culminating in the All-Russian Council of 1917-18. The Tsar also had a great devotion to the saints. It was thanks to his encouragement and insistence that St. Seraphim of Sarov was officially canonized, and he took part personally in the solemnities of his glorification. He was a great patron of church building, and had an exquisite taste for traditional Russian church art and architecture. Even today, you can go to Russia and see with your own eyes the concrete legacy of the Tsar in all of the magnificent churches he commissioned and funded. In these places of sacred beauty—monuments of craftsmanship, artistry, and imagination that surpass anything to be found in the New World—it becomes tangibly clear just what it meant for there to be an Orthodox Tsar in Russia, to protect, defend, nurture and support the life of the Church. The imposing majesty and celestial beauty of these temples needs no explanation or apology; it is its own justification for an Orthodox regime and a Christian civilization.

PHOTO: Shrine and reliquary for the Holy Royal Martyrs, in the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, a Russian Orthodox monastery in Wayne, West Virginia, USA. It was installed on July 17th, 2018, to mark the centenary of the tragic murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

On my pilgrimage to Russia with Fr. David and Nicholas two years ago, we visited a number of these churches associated with Tsar Nicholas II. The one that had the deepest stamp of his personality was the Fyodorovskiy Cathedral in Tsarkoe Selo. It was built for the Royal Family to worship together with the soldiers who were garrisoned the town, where the Tsar lived for much of the year. The first floor of the church was covered in darkly stained hardwood, which gave the spacious nave a sense of inviting warmth, a very down-to-earth quality. Standing there during the Divine Liturgy, halfway across the world, I had the uncanny sense of being of right at home—home in my parish where I first saw the Tsar’s portrait and found myself skeptical of the Royal Family’s veneration. Now it felt as though they were welcoming me here, and the grace of their presence was overwhelming. There was no more room for skepticism, only inexplicable tears of recognition and devotion.

After the Liturgy, we were given a tour of the basement church in the cathedral, which was dedicated to St. Seraphim and was the Royal Family’s private chapel, only open to others by their invitation. In that dark and low-ceilinged chapel, the Family worshipped together, knelt together, fasted and prayed together. I saw the plain wooden chair in which the Emperor sat during church; the narrow alcove looking in on the altar for the Empress to observe the services; the side-room built for the Emperor to address urgent state affairs; a pillow embroidered by the Empress’ own hands. Beneath the outward splendor, their life here was so unassuming, so disarmingly homely. It all pointed to something deeper about their character—to a goodness and spiritual nobility that inspired loyalty, fidelity, and love.

By all accounts, this is how they were in life, too. Nicholas and his family, and everything they stood for, were hated and reviled by certain segments of Russian society. The Russian press spread the most vile slanders about the Tsar and his family. They did not shrink from inventing and printing total fabrications in order to stir up public opinion against them, so intense was the animosity directed against them. During the days of their final imprisonment, their guards, having been fed on this propaganda, were often hostile to them at first. But the godly family would win them over eventually with patience, charity, and their noble simplicity. New guards, even more violent, crude, and full of revolutionary fervor, had to be found who would not deal with them so humanely. At last, after months of increasingly restrictive and deprived confinement, they and a handful of loyal servants were hauled into a basement cellar, and shot in cold blood by a band of committed revolutionaries. Their bodies were violated, disfigured and maimed, then disposed of like animals.

Yet after seventy long years, full of suffering for the Russian land, they were recovered; and even more improbably, fragments of them now have a permanent home in our holler. What does this mean for us as 21st century Americans? We don’t have to become avid Russophiles or staunch monarchists to appreciate the fact that their death represents the end of a world—that of Christendom. The era of Christian monarchs that began with Constantine the Great and lasted for 1600 years, came to an end with Tsar Nicholas. Some, of course, greet this as a welcome development, or at least an ambivalent one. After all, the Christian Gospel cannot be exclusively identified with one particular regime, or one particular people. But true as that may be, it is nonetheless possible for a regime or for a people to identify themselves with the Gospel. That is the meaning of Holy Rus’. The Royal Martyrs were the last representatives of this union of Church and State, and were killed because of it. But like their forebears Boris and Gleb, they died ultimately because of their personal fidelity to Christ. They could have fled Russia and lived, but they chose to remain and suffer together with the people whom God had entrusted to them, to undergo their sorrowful fate together with them. They died for the ideal of a Christian Russia, a holy Russia. And they modelled this holiness in their lives, as they walked the path to their own Golgotha with patience, with kindness to their persecutors, with grace and nobility, with total forgiveness for their enemies, and with pure Christian love. Their lives and deaths indeed bear witness to the truth of the Christian Faith. They are justly called saints and martyrs.

As we gaze upon their icon and venerate their relics, we can scarcely begin to fathom all that was lost in the fire and bloodshed of Revolution. Although we may have some inkling of the goodness that was irretrievably spoiled, and of the evil that took its place, we should not feel nostalgic for a lost past. There is no sense in us as Americans pining for the days of Holy Rus’ and the benevolent reign of a pious Tsar. We must live out our Christian struggle in the time and the place to which God has called us. And there is so much about the lives of the Royal Martyrs that can help us find our way through our own time in America, where more and more people are abandoning the Christian faith, where Christian morals are in retreat from the law and the public sphere. Their personal example shows us how to remain steadfast in even the most difficult circumstances. In our time, when most marriages end in divorce, the Royal Martyrs present us with a perfect icon of Christian marriage and family life. Now, when children are exposed to images of sex and violence at younger and younger ages, the Royal Martyrs show us an image of youthful innocence, chastity, and purity. In our time of indifference and cynicism, they show us that it is possible to live self-sacrificially in service to a lofty spiritual ideal. In short, they manifest the fulness of Christian life on the level of the individual and the family, as well as the nation. Whatever our age or whatever our calling, we can draw great strength in our struggle by prayerfully turning to them for support.

No matter how far our own country may turn from Christ, when we look upon the Royal Martyrs, we should be reminded that every triumph of evil in this world is only temporary. Their contemporaries and their historians have all made their judgments, but God’s judgment is the one that prevails in the end. And Christ has glorified them. So let us also glorify them, and turn to them in prayer, asking that we too might remain faithful to Christ amidst the darkness of this world. So may we find a place together with them in Christ’s heavenly kingdom. Amen.

© Holy Cross Monastery. 13 July 2022

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


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

Faithful to the End: Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev 


Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny (left). and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev (right)

Today – 28th June 2022 – marks the 104th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of two faithful servants to Emperor Nicholas II and his family – Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny and Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev. 

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev selflessly served the Tsar’s children. Nagorny in particular, lay the great responsibility of protecting the Tsesarevich, even the slightest injury could put the heir to the Russian throne in danger, due to his hemophilia. Alexei was very fond of Nagorny, who in turn showed complete devotion to the Tsesarevich, faithfully sharing with him all the joys and sorrows.


Nagorny and Tsesarevich Alexei in Tsarskoe Selo, 1907

Klimenty Nagorny and Ivan Sednev voluntarily stayed with the Tsar’s family during their house arrest in Tsarskoe Selo, and then followed them to Tobolsk, where Nagorny shared a room with the Tsesarevich, serving him day and night. Together with the Imperial family, Nagorny also attended all the divine services, and the only member of the family’s retinue who was a member of the choir organized by the Empress: he sang and read for the Imperial family during services held in the house church.

In the spring of 1918 Nagorny and Sednev once again, voluntarily followed the Imperial family to Ekaterinburg. They spent only a few days in the Ipatiev House, and then were separated from the Imperial prisoners. They were arrested and imprisoned, their sole crime had been their inability to hide their indignation on seeing the Bolshevik commissaries seize the little gold chain from which the holy images hung over the sick bed of the Tsesarevich.

On 28th June 1918, they were shot in the back by the Bolsheviks, in a small wooded area behind the Yekaterinburg-2 railway station (modern name – Shartash). Nagorny and Sednev were “killed for betraying the cause of the revolution” – as indicated in the resolution on their execution. The murderers left their bodies unburied.

When Ekaterinburg was occupied by the Whites, the the half-decayed bodies of Nagorny and Sednev, were found and solemnly buried near the Church of All the Afflicted (demolished). Witnesses at the funeral recall that the graves of the former sailors of the Imperial Yacht Standart were strewn with white flowers. Their graves were not preserved – they were destroyed when the Soviet authorities built a city park on the site of the cemetery.

Both Nagorny and Sednev were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) on 14 November 1981, and both rehabilitated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation on 16 October 2009. They have yet to be canonized by the Moscow Patriarchate. 

Memory Eternal! Вечная Память!


Sednev and Alexei Nikolaevich, in the Finnish skerries, 1914 

Nagorny, Klementy Grigorovich (1887—1918) – from 1909, he served on the Imperial yacht Standart and appointed as a footman to the imperial children. He received the Court title Garderobshik (wardrobe keeper) in 1909 and accompanied the Imperial family on every tour. In November 1913, he was appointed assistant dyadka to guard the Imperial children. He travelled with the Tsesarevich Alexei to Mogilev during 1914-16. After the Tsar’s abdication, he lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.

Sednev, Ivan Dmitrievich (1881—1918) – was recruited into the Russian Imperial Navy in 1911, where he began as a machinist on the Imperial Yacht Polyarnaya Zvezda (Polar Star) then transferred onto the Imperial yacht Standart. By invitation he became a Lakei (liveried footman) to the Grand Duchesses, and subsequently to the Tsesarevich. Ivan lived under detention with the Imperial family in Tsarskoe Selo, Tobolsk and Ekaterinburg.


On 13th June 2022, a new monument (seen in above photo) to four faithful servants – including Nagorny and Sednev – of Emperor Nicholas II, was installed and consecrated on the grounds of Novo-Tikhvin Convent in Ekaterinburg.

© Paul Gilbert. 28 June 2021

Moscow Patriarchate issues student calendar dedicated to Nicholas II and his family

The Department of Children’s Literature of the Publishing House of the Moscow Patriarchate, have published a special Orthodox student’s 2023 calendar, dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and their children.

The calendar «Патриарх — детям. Царская семья. Уроки из жизни» [Patriarch to Children. Tsar’s family. Lessons from life] is designed to guide students and children on the holidays and fasts of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The 32-page calendar includes a preface, written by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, a troparion and kontakion to the Holy Royal Martyrs, prayers for before and after lessons. The calendar also features blank pages, where students can record their schedule of additional lessons, as well as birthdays and name days of their family, relatives and friends.

The preface for the student calendar, written by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, reads:

“Dear children! We perceive the family as a small Church, as a circle of the closest people, united by the paternal faith. It is no coincidence that the Gospel says: “Where two or three gather in My name, there I am with them (Matthew 18:20).” It is the dispensation of the family in the name of the Lord that makes it possible to build relationships between children and parents, relationships in which any act is accompanied by a willingness to serve one’s neighbour as oneself. A striking example of a Christian family is the family of the Royal Martyrs, Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II, his wife and children, who together carried out their public service. In joy and in sorrow, in prosperity and in persecution, the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers strengthened prayed with all their hearts for Russia, for the hardships and problems of the Fatherland. It is in such families that today our people can and must draw their strength.”

The 2023 students calendar is available from the Publishing house of the Moscow Patriarchate – price 65 rubles.

© Paul Gilbert. 22 June 2022

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