Icon belonging to the Imperial Family now in the Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

PHOTO: Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg

Today – 11th July – the feast of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” – a miraculous icon revered in the Orthodox Church – is being celebrated in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg.

During their house arrest in the Ipatiev House from April to July 1918, the Imperial Family had an Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed”, before which they prayed daily, until their death and martyrdom on 17th July 1918.

The Imperial Family’s icon was discovered following the regicide in the Ipatiev House by a Guards officer who personally knew Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960) and her husband Nikolai Kuikovsky (1881-1958). Later, the icon traveled with Admiral Alexander Kolchak’s (1874-1920) army and Russian emigrants, through China to the United States and Canada. In the early 1920s, through the efforts of officers devoted to Emperor Nicholas II, it was taken to Denmark and presented to the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928). Passing from generation to generation, the icon remained in the Romanov family until 2003: upon the Dowager Empress’s death in 1928, the icon passed to her youngest daughter Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna , then passing to her eldest son Tikhon in 1960.

In the year marking the 85th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the Imperial Family, Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovskaya-Romanova (1926-2020) took part in the consecration of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, erected on the site of the Ipatiev House, demolished in 1977. In addition and according to the last will and testament of her husband and nephew of Nicholas II Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky, Olga Nikolaevna brought from Canada the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed”.

By the Providence of God, on the night of 10th July 2003, Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovskaya-Romanova, solemnly handed over the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” to the Church on Blood in Ekaterinburg, built on the site of the demolished Ipatiev House, where the Holy Royal Martyrs met their deaths and martyrdom. Thus, the dying wish of Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky – the last owner of the family icon – had been fulfilled.

PHOTO: Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovskaya-Romanova (left), solemnly handed over the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” to the Church on Blood in Ekaterinburg on 10th July 2003

In her solemn speech to the pilgrims Olga Nikolaevna said: “I am happy that the Lord deigned me to fulfill the will of my husband Tikhon Nikolaevich Kulikovsky-Romanov … This icon in the Ipatiev House was a spiritual witness to the sufferings of the Holy Royal Martyrs. Everything has come full circle. After many years of wanderings, the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed” has returned to its proper place in Ekaterinburg. “

According to tradition, the feast of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Three-handed”, marks the beginning of Tsar’s Days within the Ekaterinburg archdiocese. In July 2019, during the Divine Liturgy in the Church on the Blood, Metropolitan Kirill, now – the head of the Tatarstan archdiocese, said “from this day, begins Passion Week, dedicated to the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs. Starting from today, and every day of Passion Week, the earthly life and the last moments of the Holy Royal Martyrs will be honoured.”

A Divine Liturgy will be held on the night of 16/17 July in the Church on the Blood. Earlier this week, the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region cancelled the annual Cross Procession from the Church to the Holy Royal Monastery at Ganina Yama. Despite this, Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky insists that he will still take part in the sacred procession.

© Paul Gilbert. 11 July 2021

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Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II from Serbia arrives in St. Petersburg

PHOTO: the miraculous icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, painted in Serbia

Earlier this week, a large miraculous icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, painted in Serbia, was brought to the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg. The icon will remain in the Lavra until 15th June.

The icon was written in 2018, however, the icon painter wished to remain anonymous. The icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was consecrated in the ancient Church of the Holy Prophet Jeremiah in the eastern Serbian town of Vrbovec on 24th February 2019.

The icon was blessed by Father Dushan Popovich, co-served by four priests. There were many believers in the church, and they all knelt down in prayer. This was considered the first miracle from the icon.

For two years, the icon was used in many religious processions blessed by His Holiness Patriarch Irenaeus (1930-2020), in Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska, Kosovo and Metohija. Many people prayed before the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, and bowed to his holy image. In monasteries and churches where the icon was located, the faithful often queued for hours in order to venerate the icon. Many miracles have since been attributed through prayers to the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II since.

A nun from the Vasily Ostrozhsky Monastery on Mount Rozhay was seriously ill with leukemia. Five years before arriving at the monastery of the Tsar’s Icon, she received a vision. The image of the Tsar was in the monastery church for three weeks. Every day following the liturgy, the nuns read the Akathist to the Holy Tsar. Then the icon was taken away to visit the holy places of Central Serbia. Two weeks later, the nun felt better and visited the doctor. Her analyzes turned out to be as if she had never been sick! The doctor was amazed. And now, thank God, she is healthy.

Nearly thirty churches and monasteries in Serbia have received the icon of the Sovereign, and with it two more royal icons, those of the Holy Tsar Lazar of Serbia and Tsar Ioann the Strong.

The icons where brought to the monastery of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos on Mount Rudnik for three months, where the faithful came to venerate them, including priests and monks from Central Serbia. Here and in other places, between divine services, the Akathist was incessantly read to Saint Tsar Nicholas II.

PHOTO: Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg

There were also icons of the Tsars in Belgrade, in the churches of St. Paraskeva and St. Nicholas. They were undertaken for the sake of strengthening the faith and saving the Serbian and Russian peoples. Many times a fragrance emanated from the icons.

The blessing for bringing icons to Russia was given by the confessors revered in Serbia – Elders John (Ielenko) and Seraphim (Milkovich). This mission was carried out by Mrs. Bilyana Rakovich, the spiritual daughter of Father Seraphim, who dearly loved Russia and the Russian people.

By the grace of God, another miracle took place at the airport in Belgrade. A male employee, who at first coldly declared himself an nonbeliever, was in charge of moving the crates containing the icons to the gangway. The icons were packed in very large cases, which created problems. As the man touched and moved the cases he completely changed, literally transformed. As the crates were being loaded onto the aircraft, the man carefully placing the icons on the conveyor belt with other employees, he stood at attention giving the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and the other Tsar a military honour! Those who helped him did the same. His eyes were shining, his fellow airport employees cried, while one knelt down.

The icons arrived in Russia at the beginning of Holy Week this year. The image of Holy Tsar Lazar of Serbia is now in the Rostov region. The faithful come to receive help from above through him.

For a week, with the blessing of the rector Archpriest Konstantin Korolev and the honorary abbot Schema-Archimandrite Barsonofy (Kuzmin), the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was first taken to the Church of All Saints Who Shone in St. Petersburg. Then, with the blessing of Archimandrite Nektariy (Golovkin), the icon was transferred to the Saints Peter and Fevronia Church in Peterhof for more than a week. Here the icon also emitted a fragrance within the church.

Them earlier this week, the Serbian icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II arrived at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra – the main monastery of St. Petersburg, where it will remain until 15th June. The icon arrived at the Lavra on the eve of the 800th anniversary of the birth of the Holy Blessed Prince Alexander Nevsky. The icon has also arrived just a few days before the birthday of the most Holy Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich on 19th [O.S. 6th] May, and on the eve of the 300th anniversary of the proclamation of the State of the Russian Empire, which took place on the day of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.

PHOTO: the miraculous icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, painted in Serbia

© Paul Gilbert. 14 May 2021

The Ural Mining Institute of Emperor Nicholas II in Ekaterinburg

PHOTO: This magnificent icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, greets both students and visitors as they enter the main building of the Ural State Mining University in Ekaterinburg

Founded on 16 [O.S. 3] July 1914, the Mining Institute in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg was the last educational institution in Russia, to be created by the decree of Emperor Nicholas II.

The solemn act which took place on board the Imperial Yacht Standart, where Nicholas II signed the law on the establishment of the Mining Institute. It was considered an event of great historical significance in the cultural life of not only the Urals, but also the Russian Empire.

Following the consecration held on 30 [O.S. 17] July 1916, the foundation stone was laid. A special copper plate was made on which the date was engraved. On the same day, a telegram was sent to Nicholas II, who was at that time at the Stavka in Mogilev, the headquarters of the Russian Imperial Army, where he was serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces:

“To His Imperial Majesty. Gathered for the solemn laying of the building of the Ekaterinburg Mining Institute, after the liturgy performed by His Grace Seraphim, ardent prayers to the Lord God for the precious health of Your Imperial Majesty and the granting of complete victory over the enemy were given. We lay at your feet, All-Merciful Sovereign, loyal for the monarch’s mercy granted to the Urals by the fulfillment of the long-standing aspirations of the Ekaterinburg city public administration and the Perm zemstvo. The Mining School, approved by Your Imperial Majesty at the time of the nationwide struggle against German oppression, gives new strength to the flourishing of the young Russian industry for the glory of Yours, Beloved Sovereign, and our dear Motherland.”

PHOTO: A close-up view of the Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II reveals its rich detail, made of Ural precious stones: rubies, garnets, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts and other precious gems

The following day the Tsar sent his reply: “I instruct you to convey to His Grace Seraphim and all those who gathered for the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the building of the Ekaterinburg Mining Institute my heartfelt gratitude for the prayers and the feelings that brought them to life. I hope that this new institute for the study of mining will provide the Motherland with useful workers in this important branch of industry.” Nicholas II.

It was difficult for the institute to take its first steps; it needed reliable help and support. The first director of the institute Pyotr Petrovich von Weymarn (1879-1935), believed that it was best to enlist support from the first person in the state, the Tsar himself. Weymarn believed that it was quite enough if the institute should bear the name of the Sovereign. And so they did. On 6th November 1916, the Construction Commission wrote to Nicholas II with a request to accept the institute under “His Imperial Majesty’s Patronage and to grant it the name “Ural Mining Institute of Emperor Nicholas II”.

The document read: “Your Imperial Majesty! For many years, the vast Urals lacked an institute of higher learning for the study of mining. Only during the reign of Your Imperial Majesty … The Urals are now enriched by two higher leaning schools: the University in Perm and, which is especially important for the mining progress of the Urals, and the Mining Institute in the city of Ekaterinburg. Thus, the higher learning education in the Ural region is now forever historically associated with your Sovereign name. With deep conviction, the Construction Commission … took the courage to loyally ask you, Sovereign, to accept the Mining Institute, which is being built in the city of Ekaterinburg, under its highest patronage and most mercifully command to deign to name it henceforth the Ural Mining Institute of Emperor Nicholas II.”

The Tsar replied on 5th January 1917, granting the institute the right to be named after him.

PHOTO: Olga Nikolaevna Kulikovsky-Romanov (1926-2020) admires the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, situated in the lobby of the main building of the Ural State Mining University. Her proximity to the icon provides us with an idea of just how large this magnificent icon actually is.

Sadly, events in the country forced the Urals from taking advantage of the monarch’s favour. As a result of the February 1917 Revolution, Nicholas II, abdicated on 15 [O.S. 2] March. But the story did not end there. Fate wanted Nicholas II to visit the city, the institute of which he bestowed his name on. On that “warm, wonderful day” of 17th April 1918, the Emperor was brought from Tobolsk to Ekaterinburg where he was held under house arrest. It was here that he and his family spent the last three months of their life until the tragic end.

Following the death of Nicholas II, the institute underwent a number of name changes: Ural Mining Institute (1918); Sverdlovsk Mining Institute (1934); Sverdlovsk Mining Institute named after V.V. Vakhrushev (1947); Ural State Mining and Geological Academy (1993); and the Ural State Mining University (2004) today, a leading university in the Urals, with about 9000 students.

The original building of the Ural State Mining University has survived to the present day, and its administration has not forgotten the historic connection between it and Russia’s last emperor and tsar.

PHOTO: The main building of the Ural State Mining University

Celebrations were held at the Ural State Mining University on 19th May 2008, the day marking the 140th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Nicholas II. A magnificent memorial icon dedicated to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was opened in the lobby of the main building of the Ural Mining University.

The Holy Royal Icon was painted by the sisters of the Novo-Tikhvin Monastery in Ekaterinburg. According to the new project, all the plastic elements of the decoration of the original icon were replaced with a mosaic of Ural precious stones: rubies, garnets, sapphires, emeralds, amethysts and other precious gems. Local miners timed its reconstruction to coincide with the date marking Nicholas II’s birth.

The royal crown is made of chased patterned silver with gilding, figured silver lace adorns the icon frame. For the icon case, white and red Pashtun marble was used, the design of which looks as if blood is oozing from the stone, recalling the martyrdom of the Imperial Family.

© Paul Gilbert. 9 May 2021

Icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards

PHOTO: Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Biggart holds the icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Biggart, commander of the elite Scottish military unit Scots Dragoon Guards, holds the icon of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II. This photo was taken in 2012 in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan.

The icon was presented to the regiment in August 2001 by the Moscow Caledonian Club “on behalf of the Russian people”. The icon of the holy martyr Nicholas II accompanies the Scots Dragoon Guards Scottish regiment wherever they are deployed. 

Tsar Nicholas II was appointed an honorary member of the Royal Scots Greys by Britain’s Queen Victoria in 1894, after he became engaged to Alexandra Feodorovna (Princess Alix of Hesse), who was Victoria’s granddaughter.

To this day Tsar Nicholas II is commemorated by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (which the Royal Scots Greys became in 1971), by the playing of the Russian Imperial anthem at certain mess functions. 

PHOTO: Newspaper shows Vitaly Mironov presenting icon to Major-General Hall

The Director of the Moscow Caledonian Club Vitaly Mironov notes that the idea to present an icon to the Scots Dragoon Guards Scottish regiment was one shared with historian Dr. Dmitry Fedosov, who then commissioned a church artist to paint this special icon. The icon was solemnly handed over by Mironov to the regimental commander on 24th August 2001, during a special ceremony in Edinburgh Castle in the presence of Mr. Smironov, the Consul General of the Russian Federation; the oldest member of the British Parliament Tam Dalyell; a large number of journalists and artists of the Russian Cossacks State Dance Company, who regularly perform in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. 

When the producer of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Brigadier Melville Jameson asked Mironov “on behalf of whom do we want to present this icon to the regiment?”, he replied – “please mention that it was not done on our own behalf, but on behalf of ALL RUSSIAN PEOPLE.”

“This is extremely important for us,” added Mironov,  “because we considered the very fact of painting this icon and its presentation to the glorious Scottish regiment, as an act of the deepest repentance of ALL OF OUR PEOPLE for the greatest evil that our ancestors did to the Tsar, his family and members of the household … It is our history and our common historical memory.”

PHOTO: Scots Dragoon Guards holding the icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Vitaly Moronov for supplying me with this information and the importance of this icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II.

Click HERE for more information about the Moscow Caledonian Club

Click HERE to read the article Bonded in the Old Faith: Saint Andrew, Nicholas II, and the Birdcatchers by Monk Theodore, published in Orthodox Life on 13th December 2020

© Paul Gilbert. 4 May 2021

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

A masterpiece of icon painting and its connection to Nicholas II

A masterpiece of icon painting – the image of the Mother of God “Seraphim-Ponetaevka” is currently on display at the Andrey Rublev Museum in Moscow

This beautiful icon has an extremely interesting history and its connection with the family of Emperor Nicholas II.

Before the revolution, it belonged to Colonel Dmitry Nikolaevich Loman (1868-1918), who held several important government positions. Loman maintained a deep and personal relationship with Nicholas II and Alexandra Fedorovna – the latter was the godmother of his son Yuri.

The icon, painted by one of the best icon painters of the time, Nikolai Yemelyanov, was presented to Loman by the Empress for his work on the construction of Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo.

After the 1917 Revolution, the icon, was sold abroad, where it changed several owners, and then returned to Russia and is now in the private collection of Igor Sysolyatin.

© Paul Gilbert. 30 January 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Paul Gilbert. 11 July 2020