Christians in Russia yesterday solemnly remembered the brutal killing of the country’s Imperial Family by the Bolshevik revolutionaries 90 years earlier. Tsar Nicholas II, the Tsarina Alexandra, their daughters the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and the Tsarevich Alexei have all been added to the canon of saints of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Imperial Family were first officially recognized as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church outside the Soviet Union in 1981, and the Moscow patriarchate extended the same recognition in 2000.
The Grand Duchess Elizabeth was particularly renowned for her holiness, which only augmented after the assasination of her husband, the Grand Duke Sergei, at the hands of a socialist revolutionary. St. Elizabeth visited the assassin in his cell urging him to repent, but he was obstinate and even refused a pardon from Nicholas II. She gave up everything she had, including her wedding ring, and founded the Convent of Martha and Mary, becoming its abbess. The Grand Duchess’s convent operated a hospital, pharmacy, orphanage, and chapel on its grounds to aide the poor, the sick, and the orphaned. Lenin ordered her arrest, and on July 17, St. Elizabeth and a number of her companions were hurled down a mineshaft by the Bolsheviks. Still alive, they began to sign hymns, and were only silenced after grenades were repeatedly thrown down the mineshaft. The relics of St. Elizabeth Romanov are enshrined at the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene (which she and her husband helped to found) on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Pilgrims venerate an icon of Tsar St. Nicholas II outside the “Church on Blood in Honor of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land” which was built on the site of the Imperial Family’s execution.
The uniforms of the Kremlin guard regiments (below) were recently redesigned to look more like the uniforms of the Imperial Guard regiments from the time of Nicholas II.
Elsewhere: Murdered Tsar Nicholas II attracts loyalty and controversy (Gerald Warner)