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

Ekaterinburg’s annual Tsar’s Cross Procession cancelled

PHOTO: tens of thousands participate in the annual Cross Procession in Ekaterburg

The Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Yevgeny Kuyvashev announced today, that the traditional Tsar’s Cross Procession, which is held annually in Ekaterinburg on the anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, has been cancelled due to a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the region.

In the past four days, more than 300 new cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in the region every day. Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, more than 96 thousand people contracted the virus in Ekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk region, 3.9 thousand of whom died. Russia is now experiencing a third wave and ranks fifth in the highest number of cases. More than 5.6 million cases have been recorded in Russia with more than 138 thousand deaths.

“This year the Cross Procession during Tsar’s days will not be held … The new strain t hat is spreading throughout the region is even more dangerous. Many more people are now in need of oxygen, the hospitals are filled to capacity. Therefore, we are cancelling the procession this year,” the governor stated.

Kuyvashev also published a photo from last year’s procession, in which, according to the Ekaterinburg Diocese, only 10 thousand people participated. The governor noted that despite the pandemic, many of the pilgrims did not use masks and did not practice social distancing. As a result, many of those who participated in last years’ Cross Procession, fell ill with the coronavirus shortly thereafter. He stressed that next year, providing the pandemic has been eliminated, it will be possible to hold a procession “on an even larger scale than before.”

Traditionally, several tens of thousands of people participate in the Tsar’s Cross Procession in the Ural city – 60 thousand in 2019 and 100 thousand in 2018. The procession follows the same route that the regicides carried the murdered remains of the Imperial Family and their faithful servants to an abandoned mine at Ganina Yama. The procession does not go to Porosnkov Log, where the regicides buried them in a second unmarked grave. The route of the procession begins at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama – a distance of 26 km (16 miles), taking about four to five hours to walk on foot.

PHOTO: Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky

The head of the Ekaterinburg Diocese, Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursky was quick to respond to the governor’s announcement, by writing in his Telegram page about the importance of upholding the tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession, sacred to many Orthodox Christians and monarchists, and about the choice of each of us in a situation where there can be no ideal solutions.

“The tradition of the Tsar’s Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood to Ganina Yama has outgrown the framework of the so-called Tsar’s Days events and has become sacred for tens of thousands of people. And now people will continue to follow the holy path. But, will they walk along safely blocked streets? Or on narrow sidewalks next to dangerously speeding cars? Time will tell.

“In the current pandemic situation, there are no perfect solutions. Everyone must independently find a balance between courage and fear, responsibility and caution.

I will definitely go!”, declared Vladyka Yevgeny.

“The decision of the authorities, who have cancelled this years Tsar’s Cross Procession, is well founded, however, one should not stigmatize believers as the culprits of the spread of the coronavirus.

“Our goal is not death from fear of the coronavirus or from the coronavirus itself, but life with God and love for our neighbours.

“I urge everyone to take maximum precautions to protect themselves and of those around them. I pray that the Lord will preserve all of us in health and long life, and I bless you to add caution and love for your dearest to your prayer” Vladyka Yevgeny concluded.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 July 2021

Ekaterinburg preparing a mobile application for Tsar’s Days 2021

The Ekaterinburg Diocese is currently preparing a mobile application for the Tsar’s Days events, held annually in July in the Ural capital. July 17th marks the 103rd anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family.

The free Russian language mobile application for participants and guests taking part in this years’ Tsar’s Days, presents a program of traditional cultural, educational and liturgical events, in memory of Holy Royal Martyrs.

The mobile app will allow Tsar’s Days participants access to basic information about ongoing events and a program with the ability to select events by date and location; a detailed schedule of the liturgies and Cross Processions; contact information required to attend Tsar’s Days events; cross procession card; hotline telephones, and a guide to the Church on the Blood.

The application will also provide a live online broadcast of the Divine Liturgy at the Church on the Spilled Blood, held on the night of 16/17 July.

In addition, pilgrims will have access to articles and news about the Imperial Family, and special routes dedicated to the memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs: “The Holy (Blue) Line”, “Ekaterinburg Tsar’s Route” and the “Ekaterinburg’s Path of Sorrow”.

For more information about Tsar’s Days, please refer to my article What is Tsar’s Days?, published on 15th May 2021

© Paul Gilbert. 22 June 2021

What is Tsar’s Days?

Tsar’s Days before the 1917 Revolution

Tsar’s Days began during the Tsarist era, the idea being very different from that celebrated in the 21st century. In the Russian Empire, holidays were established in honour of solemn events in the lives of members of the Imperial Family.

The Tsar’s Days were divided into two groups – solemn and high solemn days.

The first group included the coronation, accession to the throne, birthdays, as well as the namesake [see below] of the emperor, empress-mother, empress-wife, and the heir to the throne. The second group included birthdays and namesakes of other members of the Imperial Family.

  • A namesake consists of celebrating a day of the year that is associated with one’s given name. The celebration is similar to a birthday. Russians celebrate name days [именины in Russian] separately from birthdays. Such a celebration begins with attendance at the divine services marking that day [in the Russian tradition, the All-Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy], and usually with a festive party thereafter. Before the October Revolution of 1917, Russians regarded name days as important as, or more important than, the celebration of birthdays, based on the rationale that one’s baptism is the event by which people become “born anew” in Christ. The Russian Imperial family followed a tradition of giving name-day gifts, such as a diamond or a pearl.

On high solemn days, special prayers were held in churches: on birthdays, a general thanksgiving service was performed, and on the day of the namesake, a prayer service to the saint of the same name [i.e. Nicholas II + Saint Nicholas of Myra]. On the day of the accession to the throne of the sovereign-emperor and his coronation, prayers were served for a special rite.

The solemn days, were postponed until the following Sunday. If the solemn day fell on the first week of Great Lent , it was postponed to the Feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. If it fell during Holy Week (the last week of Great Lent) or the first day of the celebration of Easter, the solemn day was postponed to Monday of Bright Week.

On 7th March 1917, the Holy Synod, in response to the February Revolution, began to call the “reigning” House of Romanov in the past tense and abolished “Tsar’s Days”. The corresponding decree of the Provisional Government appeared on 16th March of the same year.

Below, is a list of the four high solemn days celebrated for Nicholas II in 1913 [dates are noted in the Old Style Julian Calendar]:

May 6 – Birth of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich ;
May 14 – Sacred Crowning of Their Imperial Majesties;
October 20 – Accession to the throne of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich;
December 6 – Namesake of Sovereign Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich.

Tsar’s Days in Post-Soviet Russia

In the 21st century, Tsar Days have taken on a whole new meaning. The annual holidays are held in mid-July in the Ekaterinburg diocese, during which divine services are held, a cross procession in memory of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, as well as a festival of Orthodox culture, including exhibitions and other social events.

The name is taken from the pre-revolutionary Tsar’s Days, timed to coincide with the anniversaries of solemn events in the lives of members of the Romanov Dynasty. The dates of the modern Tsar’s Days are timed to the dates of 21st July 1613 – the day of the anointing of the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty, Mikhail Fedorovich, and 17th July 1918 – the day of the brutal murders of the last Emperor of Russia Nicholas II and his family, in the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg and 18th July – the day of the murders of 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) in Alapaevsk.

Events

As part of the Tsar’s Days, an all-night vigil is held in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, which includes a Divine Liturgy followed by a Cross Procession. The Tsar’s Days Festival celebrates Orthodox culture in the Ekaterinburg Diocese. Dozens of religious and secular public events dedicated to the tsarist theme are held, including exhibitions, concerts, conferences and other events.

Some of the city’s museums and churches become venues for exhibitions dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II, his family and other members of the Romanov dynasty, who were murdered in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk.

The main event, for which Orthodox pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg, is the solemn divine liturgy, which takes place on the night of the murder of the Holy Royal Murders – 16/17 July, in the Church on the Blood. At the end of the Liturgy, tens of thousands of pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama.

Pilgrims from other cities in Russia organize pilgrimages from their cities to Ekaterinburg to participate in the Tsar’s Days. A growing number of Russian cities [i.e. St. Petersburg, Kazan, etc.] are today organizing their own Tsar’s Days events, but on a much smaller scale than that of Ekaterinburg.

PHOTO: His Holiness Patriarch Kirill delivers a Divine Liturgy outside the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 July 2018 (above); His Holiness Patriarch Kirill leads the 21 km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama (below)

100th anniversary of the death of members of the Romanov family

In 2018, the Tsar’s days in the Ekaterinburg Diocese were timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of members of the Romanov family in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk. The centenary celebrations also included the XVII Tsar’s Days Festival of Orthodox Culture, a five-day visit by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a meeting of the Holy Synod.

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 they estimated crowds of up to 60,000 people. In 2019, 60 thousand participated, and in 2020, 10 thousand people [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 Sredneuralsky Nunnery.

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.

The events marking Tsar’s Days in 2018, fell on the tail end of the 2018 Football World Cup which was held in Ekaterinburg that year. It was estimated that as many as 200,000 people flocked to the city to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the regicide, undoubtedly the largest public demonstration yet of the growing significance of the Russia’s last emperor and tsar in the cultural, historical and spiritual life of modern-day Russia.

*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 – PG

*  *  *

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On the night of 16/17 July 2018, I had the great honour of attending the Patriarchal Liturgy performed at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. During my week in the Ural capital, I recorded the Tsar’s Days events, and published them in a ‘SPECIAL ISSUE’ of my bi-annual periodical ‘SOVEREIGN’.

The entire issue of Sovereign No. 7 is dedicated to Tsar’s Days, held in Ekaterinburg in July 2018, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his family.

This issue features 143 pages, and richly illustrated with 150 black and white photographs – many of them taken by me, during my visit to Ekaterinburg in July 2018. Click HERE to order your copy

© Paul Gilbert. 15 May 2021

Program for Royal Days 2020 in Ekaterinburg

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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

Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2020

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

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

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

The main event, for which thousands of Orthodox pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg, is the solemn liturgy, which takes place on the night of the murder of the Holy Royal Martyrs – 16/17 July, in the Church on the Blood. At the end of the Liturgy, tens of thousands of pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama.

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Pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg
to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama

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

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

© Paul Gilbert. 27 May 2020

More than 100,000 participate in Liturgy, all-night procession for 100th anniversary of Holy Royal Martyrs

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View of the Church on the Blood on the night of 16/17 2018

NOTE: All of the articles pertaining to Nicholas II and his family which were originally published in my Royal Russia News blog, have been moved to this Nicholas II blog. This article was originally posted on 25 July 2018 in my Royal Russia News blog – PG

In 2018, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated the centenary of the martyrdom of the last Imperial family of Russia with numerous events held throughout Russia, with the celebrations culminating in a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Ekaterinburg and all-night cross procession in their honor.

On the night of 16/17 July 2018, more than 100,000 Orthodox Christians, monarchists, among others gathered in Ekaterinburg for the liturgical celebrations. The faithful came from all corners of Russia and around the world, including Azerbaijan, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, USA, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, France, Estonia, South Korea, and Japan.

The first Tsar’s Days procession took place in 1992, with the participation of but a few dozen faithful.

The event began with the Divine Liturgy celebrated on the square in front of the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg, built on the site where the Ipatiev House once stood, where the family was murdered. The service was headed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill with more than 35 hierarchs and multiple clergy concelebrating.

The entire service was broadcast live on the Orthodox TV station “Union:”

A special platform was erected for the Liturgy in front of the gates of the lower church, where the “Imperial Room” is located—a chapel in honor of the Royal Martyrs, built on specific site of their martyrdom.

Following the Liturgy, the patriarch led the traditional Royal Cross Procession from the place of martyrdom of the holy Royal Martyrs and their servants to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama ravine, covering a distance of 21 km (13 miles).

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His Holiness leads the Cross Procession to Ganina Yama

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The Cross Procession nears the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

According to law enforcement agencies, more than 100,000 took part in the procession.

According to tradition, the faithful carried banners and icons in the procession, including a 6.5-ft. icon of the Tsar-Martyr, painted in 2017 for the Church of the “Reigning” Icon of the Mother of God at Ganina Yama. Together with the kiot, the icon weighs 330 lbs. A special bier on wheels was made to move the heavy icon.

The procession was also accompanied by 25 mobile groups from an Orthodox charity service, consisting of clergy, representatives of the Dormition Orthodox Brotherhood of Ekaterinburg, sisters of mercy, and volunteers, who provided assistance to those who could not walk the entire route of the procession. Field kitchens and tests were also set up at the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs for the pilgrims to rest.

His Holiness and the procession arrived at the monastery in the morning, where the patriarch served a moleben to the Royal Martyrs in front of the memorial cross erected at Mine #7, where the bodies of the Royal Martyrs were abused and disposed of. His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) thus referred to Ganina Yama as “a living antimens, permeated with particles of the burnt holy relics.”

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His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

His Holiness then addressed the sea of faithful with a primatial word:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Your Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine! Fellow archpastors! Dear brothers and sisters, gathered in a multitude this night before the place where one hundred years ago was committed a terrible crime—wholly innocent people, who had committed their lives to the service of their Motherland, were killed by the evil will of man!

This atrocity still chafes our conscience, still causes us to mentally return to that time and try to understand what happened to our country and to our people. Where did this insanity, this attack come from? Looking from a distance of one hundred years, even if we want to we cannot see all the nuances of the national life of our people, which fade from memory and are missed by even the most penetrating gaze. But such crimes, as were committed here, cannot be accidental. Something stood behind this crime; behind it is the collective guilt of our people, a turn in the historical life of Holy Rus’, which led the people into a heavy, terrible impasse.

What happened to our people? After all, the country was covered with churches and monasteries, an absolute majority of the people were baptized, and the churches were filled with people. Why did it happen? Why did the murderers squeeze the trigger, without trembling at what they were doing? It means not everything was favorable. It means the sunlight reflected in the gilded domes was not always refracted into human hearts to strengthen faith in the Lord in them. And we know how over the course of at least 200 years preceding the tragedy of the Ipatiev House some changes occurred in the people’s consciousness that gradually but steadily led many to a departure from God, neglect of the commandments, and a loss of spiritual connection with the Church and the centuries-old spiritual tradition.

Why did this happen to our people? Why did they at some point become like a train whose engineer didn’t calculate its speed and heads into a steep turn, rushing towards an imminent catastrophe? When did we as people start this turn? We entered when alien thoughts, alien ideals, and an alien worldview, formed under the influence of philosophical and political theories, having nothing in common either with Christianity or our national tradition and culture, began to be perceived by the intelligentsia and aristocracy and even part of the clergy as advanced thoughts by which it was possible to change the people’s lives for the better.

Indeed, the idea of changing the life of the people for the better arises whenever there is a plan to abruptly change the course of history. We know that the worst and bloodiest revolutions have always occurred in view of people’s aspirations for a better life. The leaders of these revolutions instilled in the people that there is no other way to make life better—only by blood, only through death, only through the destruction of the existing way of life. And at some point, having abandoned their spiritual birthright, having lost their true connection with the Church and God, the intelligentsia, aristocracy, and even, as I have already said, part of the clergy were darkened in mind and infected with the thought of the need to drastically change the course of our national history and to try to build as quickly as possible a world where justice reigns, where there is no bygone separation according to material indicators, where people live peacefully and happily. As a result, many of those captured by this idea reach the point of committing crimes.

A question arises: “Is it possible through crime, through blood, through violence, and through the destruction of holy sites to build a happy life?” History clearly testifies: It is impossible! And, perhaps, the first and most important lesson that we should learn today from the tragedy of a century ago is that no promises of a happy life, no hope for help from outside, from some supposedly more educated and advanced people should seduce our people. We must remember the tragedy of the past. We must develop an immunity to any call to attain to human happiness through the destruction of that which is.

Hardly did anyone who called for the destruction of the people’s lives destroy their own lives, renouncing their own wellbeing. But with what fury they proposed to do it to everyone! And the people absorbed this lie; and the crowning act of departure from the most sacred and valuable that they had was the hideous execution of the Royal Family—innocent people who had not violated the law. And what kind of law could we even be talking about if it was necessary to kill the Tsar and his family to build a happy life? We know that nothing turned out well, and taught by bitter experience, we must build a robust rejection of any ideas and any leaders who propose to strive for some obscure “happy future” through the destruction of the life of the people, our traditions, and our faith.

Today, gathered here in such a great number, we remember the tragedy of the Ipatiev House. We have lifted up prayers to the Lord, we have prayed to the Emperor and Passion-Bearer Nicholas and those who suffered with him, that they would pray in Heaven for our earthly Fatherland and for our people and strengthen the Orthodox faith in every subsequent generation of Russians; that faithfulness to God and love for the Fatherland would accompany the lives of the youth and subsequent generations, and that no tragedy of this kind would ever happen again in our land.

May the Lord preserve our Russian land and the Russian people who today live in various countries; and although they are called by various names, are the same people who came out of the Kievan baptismal font, and passing though the most severe historical circumstances, have retained the Orthodox faith until today. May God’s blessing be upon our people, upon our Fatherland, and upon our martyric Russian Orthodox Church. May the life of our people be transfigured by the prayers of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church—without any upheavals or blood, but upon the firm foundation of faith and hope that God is with us! May the Lord save us all by the prayers of the holy Royal Passion-Bearers and all the New Martyrs!

Amen.

© Paul Gilbert. 8 December 2019

Ekaterinburg prepares for Tsar’s Days – 2019

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Icon of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearer Nicholas II in front of the steps of the Church on the Blood

Every year tens of thousands of people gather in Ekaterinburg to take part in the Tsar’s Days. The main events are the Divine Liturgy, which takes place on the night of 16/17 July at the Church on the Blood, where the lives of the Imperial Family and and their faithful retainers tragically ended, and the Cross Procession to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers in Ganina Yama, where the august remains were destroyed 101 years ago.

*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 – PG

This year’s mass celebrations in the Ural capital will begin on 12th July, the day marking the opening of the XVII Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days.”

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Metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill

XVII Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days”

From 12th  July to 21st July, Ekaterinburg will host the key event of the Tsarist Year – the XVII Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days”. In the Ural capital, dozens of religious and secular events of various formats will be held , dedicated to the “Tsarist” theme – from music festivals to creative meetings and lectures.

A cultural program is planned, which includes cultural, historical, musical and educational events, museum and library exhibitions, concerts and meetings with historians, writers, directors from across Russia and abroad.

The Church on the Blood, the Tsarsky Spiritual and Educational Center (located in the Patriarchal Compound), and the Russia – My Story Museum, will become the central venues for the festival.

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Pilgrims gather at the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July

Festival of the bell ringing “Bless the land of the Ural!”

From 14th July to 18th July, the annual festival of the bell ringing “Preach to the Land of the Urals!”, organized as part of the All-Russian Festival of Orthodox Culture “Tsar’s Days”, will also take place.

Ringers from across Russia: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Veliky Novgorod, Rostov Veliky, Vologda, Tyumen, as well as the best bell-ringers of the Ekaterinburg Metropolis will take part in the festival.

A concert of bells at the bell tower of the Bolshoi Zlatoust (Great Zlatoust) Church, with the participation of the military brass band and the choir of the Bolshoi Zlatoust (Great Zlatoust) Church, which will be held on 15th July 15, Priest Victor Yavich will recite his poems.

After that,  participants and spectators of the festival will enjoy master classes with the participation of the most experienced bell-ringers of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The bell ringing concert will begin at 6:00 pm at the Bolshoi Zlatoust (Great Zlatoust) Church, located on Malysheva Street.

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Pilgrims take part in the Cross Procession from Ekaterinburg to Ganina Yama

The main events of Tsar’s Days

The main events of the Tsar’s Days will begin on 15th July with the consecration of the Church of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers in Ganina Yama.

Then come the culminating events, which will be held on 16th and 17th July. 

On 16th July, at 09:00, the Divine Liturgy will begin in the Chapel of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers in the Church on the Blood. At 1:00 pm, a day procession along the Ekaterinburg Path of Grief will be held to mark the arrival of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers in Ekaterinburg (transported to the Ipatiev House) – from Shartash station (149 Kuybyshev St.) to the Church Church on Blood.

Then, at 15:00, a small vespers with an akathist to the Holy Royal Passion-bearers will take place in the lower church of the Church on the Blood.

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

At 23:30, the main service of the Tsar’s Days will begin – the evening Divine Liturgy at the site of the Church on the Blood. The service will end in the early morning hours of 17th July, after which at 02:30 a 21-km Cross Procession from the Church on the Blood — the place where the Imperial family were murdered — to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers — the site of where their remains were destroyed by their Bolshevik murderers at the Ganina Yam tract in 1918. The procession gathers tens of thousands of pilgrims from around the world. In previous years, the procession has attracted any where from 60,000 to 100,000 (in 2018) people. Upon the arrival of the procession at Ganina Yama, a liturgy will be held for the Holy Royal Passion-bearers.

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Victims of the Alapaevsk Massacre

Tsar’s days in Alapayevsk

The Tsar’s Days will continue with the celebration of the Days of Remembrance of the Great Martyr Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna and the Alapayevsk martyrs, which will be held in Alapayevsk, situated 150 km north of Ekaterinburg.

On 18th July, at 00:00, a Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Alapayevsk, and at 02:30 a liturgy will be held with the akathist singing to the holy martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the Nun Varvara.

At 03:30, at the end of the liturgy, a procession will begin from the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Alapayevsk to the school (where Grand Duchess Elizabeth and other members of the Romanovs were held captive) and then to the monastery in the name of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, which was founded on the place where they were thrown alive into the mine by their captives on the night of 18th July 1918. Two Divine Liturgies will be celebrated her, at 05:30 and 09:00.  

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“Tsar’s Days Hot line”

On 1st July, the “Tsar Days Hotline” will open. Pilgrims can call and ask for information on the main events that will be celebrated in Ekaterinburg from 16th to 18th July 2019, including: the divine liturgy services scheduled; the date and start time of the religious processions in Ekaterinburg, as well as the procession of the cross in Alapayevsk; how pilgrims can return to Ekaterinburg from the Monastery of the Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama after the procession on 17th July, and from Alapaevsk on 18th July, and any other questions.

In addition, by calling the hotline, pilgrims can obtain information about excursions to church museums and exhibition centers in Ekaterinburg, Alapaevsk and Verkhoturye, as well as book a reception for organized groups and single pilgrims on the Ekaterinburg Tsar Route.

Phones of the “hotline” of Tsar’s days – 2019:

+7 (343) 268-99-29, +7 (950) 64-69-019.

Hotline opening hours: daily from 10:00 to 19:00 local time (from 8:00 to 17:00 Moscow time).

Click HERE for more information about Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2019

© Ekaterinburg Diocese / Paul Gilbert. 16 June 2019

Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg 2019

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In 2019, Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg will be held from 16 to 19 July. Tsar’s Days is the annual festival of Orthodox culture in Ekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk Region, marking the deaths and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in the Ipatiev House on 17th July 1918. The festival includes divine services, religious processions, exhibitions, concerts and other events. 

Some of the city’s museums and churches will become venues for exhibitions dedicated to Emperor Nicholas II, his family and other members of the Romanov dynasty, who were murdered in Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk.

The main event, for which thousands of Orthodox pilgrims come to Ekaterinburg, is the solemn liturgy, which takes place on the night of the murder of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers – 16/17 July, in the Church on the Blood. At the end of the Liturgy, tens of thousands of pilgrims take part in the 21 km Cross procession from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ganina Yama.

The first Tsar’s Days was held in Ekaterinburg in 2001. Last year 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.

NOTE: further information on Tsar’s Days will be published here, as further details become available from the Ekaterinburg Diocese 

If you are planning to be in Ekaterinburg during Tsar’s Days this year, I highly recommend visits to the following places which memorialize the last days of Emperor Nicholas II and his family:

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Church on the Blood and the Patriarchal Compound, Ekaterinburg

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Bust of Nicholas II, Patriarchal Compound, Ekaterinburg

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Museum of the Holy Royal Family, Patriarchal Compound

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Romanov Memorial Hall, Museum of History and Archaeology of the Urals, Ekaterinburg

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Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent

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Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, Ganina Yama

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Romanov exhibit in the Museum and Exhibition Center, Ganina Yama

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Romanov Memorial, Porosenkov Log

For more information (photos, videos and links) about Tsar’s Days in 2018 and 2017, please refer to the following links:

2018 Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg

2017 Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg

*  *  *

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The entire issue of Sovereign No. 7 is dedicated to Tsar’s Days, held in Ekaterinburg in July 2018, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of Nicholas II and his family.

This special issue features 143 pages, and richly illustrated with 150 black and white photographs – many of them taken by me, during my visit to the Ural city in July 2018. Click HERE to order your copy

© Paul Gilbert. 27 May 2019

TSAR’S DAYS. EKATERINBURG 2019

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This year’s Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg will be held from 16-19 July 2019. The events mark the 101st anniversary of the the deaths and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, all of whom were brutally murdered on the night of 16/17 July 1918 in the Ipatiev House in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. 

Memorial events will include liturgies and prayers, historical conferences, sacred music concerts and exhibitions. Tens of thousands of people from across Russia, and abroad, will once again gather in Ekaterinburg for this annual event.

The main event of the Tsar’s Days is the Divine Liturgy held at the Church on the Blood (built on the site of the Ipatiev House) on the night of 16th July, followed by a religious procession in the early morning hours of 17th July, from the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama (21 km). 

The first procession in memory of the Royal Passion-bearers, headed by the ruling bishop, 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 night Divine Liturgy were performed in the open air. In 2018, more than 100,000 pilgrims 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.

Please note that updates on the 2019 Tsar’s Days events in Ekaterinburg will be posted as further details become available.

Click HERE for information on the 2018 Tsar’s Days marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family, and HERE for information on the 2017 Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg + colour photos and video.

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I was fortunate to attend the 2018 Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg, and have dedicated a special issue of SOVEREIGN dedicated to the centenary – featuring 144 pages, 7 full-length articles, and richly illustrated with 150 black and white photos. Click HERE to order your copy!

© Paul Gilbert. 20 March 2019