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


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).


His Holiness leads the Cross Procession to Ganina Yama


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.”


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!


© Paul Gilbert. 8 December 2019

Ekaterinburg prepares for Tsar’s Days – 2019


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.  


“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


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:


Church on the Blood and the Patriarchal Compound, Ekaterinburg


Bust of Nicholas II, Patriarchal Compound, Ekaterinburg


Museum of the Holy Royal Family, Patriarchal Compound


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


Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent


Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, Ganina Yama


Romanov exhibit in the Museum and Exhibition Center, Ganina Yama


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

*  *  *


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



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.


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