Divine Liturgy for Countess Anastasia Hendrikova Performed in Ekaterinburg

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Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova (1888-1918) in Tobolsk 1917 

Sunday 4th September, marked the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of the Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova (1888-1918), the personal lady in waiting of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

A Divine Liturgy was performed in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, situated in the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg. 

–  Today, exactly 100 years have passed from the day of the martyrdom of Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova, the personal maid of honour of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. She was killed by the Bolsheviks in Perm on September 4, 1918. Anastasia Vasilievna was distinguished by deep piety, nobility, selflessness and in the most difficult circumstances retained her faith in God. In our metropolia, they collect materials for the glorification of Anastasia Hendrikova in the saints’ face. And today we will honor her memory, serve liturgy, pray for her, and she will pray for us before the throne of God,” said the priest who performed the Divine Liturgy.

Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova was born in 1888. Although Anastasia Vasilievna born to the nobility, she was very simple in her way of life from early youth, she dressed very modestly, even old-fashioned and, unlike most noble girls, never participated in balls and entertainments.

In her youth, the Countess Hendrikova became the personal maid of honour of the Empress. The Empress, the Grand Duchesses, and the courtiers loved her for her kindness, affability, meekness, simplicity and openness in communication.

In February 1917, Countess Hendrikova, at the insistence of the Empress, went to a seriously ill Sister of Mercy in Kislovodsk, but when she arrived there she learned that the Emperor had abdicated the throne. Anastasia Vasilyevna hurried back to Tsarskoye Selo. It is known that at that time the majority of courtiers and servants, under different pretexts, took leave of the Tsar’s family, basically everyone cared only about their own well-being. Anastasia Vasilyevna could have remained in Kislovodsk where she would have been safe, but she, unlike the other courtiers, overcame all obstacles and returned to the Imperial family. A few hours after she arrived at the Alexander Palace, the former Imperial residence became a prison for all who voluntarily wished to remain in it. That evening, she wrote in her diary: “Thank God, I managed to arrive on time to be with them.” Her presence was a great support for the royal prisoners. Always happy, meek, smiling, she cheered everyone up. 

Anastasia Vasilievna followed the Tsar’s family into exile to Tobolsk. Before leaving, she wrote in her diary: “I can not leave here without thanking God for that wonderful peace and power that He sent me and supported me for all these almost five months of arrest. I close my eyes, give myself completely, without questions or murmurings into the hands of God with confidence and love. “

In May 1918 Anastasia Vasilievna arrived in Ekaterinburg with four of the Tsar’s children. But she was not admitted to the Ipatiev House, but was instead transferred to a Perm prison. Anastasia Vasilievna, prayed fervently and tried to remain cheerful, although she was exhausted by the illnesses and burdens of imprisonment.

On the night of 4th September 1918, Countess Hendrikova was awakened and taken with a group of prisoners outside the city where they were killed. Only a few months later, after the arrival of whites, the bodies of the dead were discovered, and Anastasia Hendrikova was buried in the cemetery in Perm.

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The corpse of Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova, discovered in Perm between November 1918 to January 1919

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Memorial cross to Countess Hendrikova and Ekaterina Schneider in the Yegoshikha Cemetery, Perm

The bodies of Hendrikova and Ekaterina Adolfovna Schneider (1856-1918) were recovered by the Whites in May 1919, and were reburied in the Yegoshikha Cemetery. However, their graves were later destroyed when the Bolsheviks regained control of the city. In October 2012, thanks to the efforts of a group of parishioners from churches in the city, and with the blessing of the Metropolitan of Perm and Solikamsky Methodius, a new cross was erected at the site where their remains had been initially buried.

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Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Perm

A memorial service with prayer was also performed for Hendrikova and Schneider on 4th September, at the alleged burial site in the Yegoshikha Cemetery, which is situated near the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Perm.

In October 1981, Hendrikova was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). On 16th October 2009, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation decided to rehabilitate 52 persons of the Imperial family and their retainers who had been subjected to repression, including Countess Anastasia Vasilievna Hendrikova. 

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 4 September 2018

Memorial Cross to the Holy Royal Martyrs erected in London

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On 13th July 2018, the day after the Feast of the Holy Apostles Sts Peter and Paul, a new memorial Cross to the Holy Royal Martyrs was erected on the grounds of the Diocesan Cathedral of the Mother of God and the Royal Martyrs in London.

The memorial Cross, which has been commissioned to mark the centenary of the martyrdom of the Imperial Family, was carved of red granite by special commission of the parish. The lower Altar of the Cathedral is dedicated to the honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and it seemed fitting to the faithful of the community to pay homage to the holy intercessors by erecting a Cross in their honour, to serve as a perpetual monument to the God-pleasing lives of these saints.

The initial erecting of the Cross will be followed by landscaping of the nearby territory to accommodate the new monument, which will be formally blessed on the day of the Cathedral’s full consecration on the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, 21st September 2018.

The Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Holy Royal Martyrs took place at the London Cathedral at 9.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 17th July 2018 (n.s.), served in the Lower Church. It was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Irenei together with clergy of the Cathedral, Diocese, and guests from the surrounding areas. The new memorial Cross was visited as part of the Cross Procession of the Altar Feast. 

© Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland (ROCOR). 22 August 2018

Cypriot Monastery Completes Video Tribute to Russian Royal Martyrs

The Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Mesa Potamos, Cyprus has published a series of high-quality video interviews with top Romanov historians in honor of the 100th anniversary of the martyrdom of the last Royal Family of Russia.

The tribute is entitled The Romanov Royal Martyrs: Centennial Tribute. The series consists of six episodes, which have been received very well, and which the monastery has now finished. The videos also include stunning unpublished Romanov colored pictures by acclaimed Russian colorist Olga Shirnina.

The series is as follows:

1. Tsar-Martyr Nicholas Through His Last Diary, with Helen Azar
An interview with Helen Azar about Tsar Nicholas’ II conduct during after his abdication, as seen in his last diary.

2. Tsarina Alexandra Through Her Letters, with Helen Azar
An interview with Helen Azar about the real Tsarina Alexandra as she is seen through her diaries and letters.

3. The Imperial Children Through Their Writings, with Helen Azar
An interview with Helen Azar about the personalities of all the Romanov children, according to their diaries’ entries and their letters. Helen also speaks about her involvement in the project “The Romanov Royal Martyrs: What Silence Could Not Conceal”.

4. Nicholas II: His Reign – His Faith – His Family, with Nicholas B.A. Nicholson
An interview with Nick Nicholson. Nicholas speaks about Nicholas’ II reign, faith, and family. He also speaks about his involvement in the project “The Romanov Royal Martyrs”.

5. The Conspiracy Against Nicholas’ II, with Paul Gilbert
An interview with Paul Gilbert. Paul speaks about the main plots which aimed to overthrow Nicholas II from his throne. He also refers to the myths regarding Nicholas’ II alleged weakness as a ruler.

6. Romanov Family – Faith in God to the End, with Helen Rappaport
An interview with Helen Rappaport about the spirituality of the Romanov family and the last stage of their imprisonment in Ekaterinburg.

Click HERE to visit the special Romanov Royal Martyrs web site, created by the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner Mesa Potamos

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The English edition of The Romanov Royal Martyrs will be available in early 2019

What is the truth about the last Romanovs? Why, for more than a hundred years, have there been methodical efforts to distort the facts of their life, while the Orthodox Church has glorified them as saints?

The Monastery of St John the Forerunner in Mesa Potamos, Cyprus, having made use of the primary sources, presents for the first time the biography of the Royal Martyrs through an Orthodox prism bringing to light what silence could not conceal.

The Monastery of St. John the Forerunner is also the publisher of the first complete Greek-language biography of the Royal Martyrs, which was released in January of this year. The English language edition of The Romanov Royal Martyrs will be published by  St Vladimir’s Seminary Press in early 2019. 

© Mesa Potamos Monastery. 15 August 2018

Russian Orthodox Church in Dispute Over Porosenkov Log

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Royal Russia Founder at Porosenkov Log, during his visit to Ekaterinburg, July 2018

Back in March 2016, I reported that Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye had made a request to the Sverdlovsk regional government to transfer the land in and around Porosenkov Log (3.7 hectares) to the Ekaterinburg Diocese. The territory is simultaneously claimed by the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local History in Ekaterinburg. My report was followed up by a second article on the dispute in July 2017 (see links below for both articles – PG). 

Since the events marking the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family last month, the subject is again making headlines in the Urals media.

According to a document signed by the head of the regional forestry department Oleg Sandakov, as early as 2016, Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye made a request to the regional government to transfer Porosenkov Log to the diocese “for gratuitous urgent use for religious activities.” Scans of the relevant documents (see below) were published last week on the Memorial of the Romanovs Facebook page.

 

In June 2014, a request was made to recognize Porosenkov Log as a cultural heritage site. Then, the regional ministry of culture planned to transfer the Romanov Memorial site to the Sverdlovsk Museum of Local History. The official opening of the memorial was planned to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of the Holy Royal Martyrs in July 2018.

In 2016, however, the Ekaterinburg Diocese began to interfere with the plans. In February of the same year, Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye sent an appeal to the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Evgeny Kuyvashev, in which he asked to declare invalid the document on the transfer of the site to the museum. The governor granted the Metropolitan’s appeal, with the regional ministry of culture subsequently putting the project on hold. 

“Due to the historical and spiritual significance of the territory, and in order to avoid any disagreements between secular and religious parties, an official note was sent to the governor of the Sverdlovsk region on the expediency of organizing a discussion on the development of the territory as a cultural heritage site with all interested parties,” said the head of the regional department of forestry Oleg Sandakov.

On the eve of the Tsar’s Days held in Ekaterinburg last month, the Russian Investigative Committee confirmed that genetic examinations on the remains found at Porosenkov Log belong to the murdered Imperial family. It was hoped that Patriarch Kirill would officially recognize the remains during his visit to Ekaterinburg, however, this did not happen. An estimated 100,000 people took part in the pilgrimage from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama, where once again the final prayer service was held, which is still considered by the ROC to be the final burial place of the bodies of the royal martyrs. Porosenkov Log was not included in the pilgrimage.

Despite the fact that the authenticity of the “royal remains” has not been recognized by the ROC, the Ekaterinburg Diocese is unlikely to back away from its plans. It can not be ruled out that the dispute over the site will be put on hold until the time when the church changes its position.

It is believed that not “if” but “when” the Moscow Patriarchate officially recognize the “Ekaterinburg remains”, that a new monastery in honour of the Holy Royal Martyrs, similar to the one situated 3.8 km down the road at Ganina Yama, will be constructed at Porosenkov Log.

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Paul Gilbert at the second grave where the remains of Alexei and Maria where discovered in 2007

Click HERE to read my article ROC Seeks Claim to Site of Royal Remains Grave Near Ekaterinburg (3 March 2016); and HERE to read my article Ekaterinburg Eparchy and Local Museum Argue Over Future of Porosenkov Log (24 July 2017)

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 August 2018

‘Last Days of the Last Tsar’ Exhibit Opens in Jordanville

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On July 17th, 2018, an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Tsar Nicholas II and his family opened at the Russian History Museum on the grounds of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York.

On the night of July 17, 1918, Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, their five children, and four loyal attendants were led to the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, Siberia. There they were brutally murdered by their Bolshevik captors. Last Days of the Last Tsar narrates the events leading up to this grim finale and portrays the family whose life and tragic fate have fascinated the world for a century. This is the first exhibition in North America dedicated exclusively to the final months of Nicholas II and his family.   

The exhibition follows the royal family from the opulence of the imperial court to the increasing austerity and confinement under house arrest and in exile. Beginning with Nicholas’s magnificent coronation, the exhibition depicts the Romanov dynasty at the turn of the 20th century and offers a glimpse into the life of the Tsar’s close-knit family. It goes on to present a chain of somber and fateful events: the outbreak of World War I, the upheaval of the February Revolution, and Nicholas’s abdication. The family’s time in the Alexander Palace under house arrest, their exile in Siberia, and, finally, their death are illustrated by objects and materials that they took with them and were recovered during the investigation of their murder. While the family’s quality of life deteriorated and material possessions steadily diminished, their ideals and core values of faith, family, and service to the fatherland remained constant until the end. The exhibition concludes with the murder’s aftermath and the memorialization of these historic events.   

Drawn from the rich museum, archival and library collections of the Russian History Foundation, the exhibition highlights the unique objects and documents collected by Nikolai Sokolov during the 1918-1919 investigation of the royal family’s murder. The Foundation’s artifacts are supplemented by loans from a dozen U.S. collections, which range from splendid coronation gifts and luxurious objets d’art by Fabergé to modest personal effects found during Sokolov’s investigation. After being dispersed for a century, these objects are brought together, many of them displayed for the first time. The exhibition is also the first to publicly present recent findings of a DNA analysis conducted by the FBI that shed light upon the ongoing investigation into the identification of the remains of Nicholas II, his family, and their faithful attendants. 

© Holy Trinity Monastery. 30 July 2018  

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

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The Russian Orthodox Church has been celebrating the centenary of the martyrdom of the last Imperial family of Russia with numerous events throughout Russia all year, with the celebrations culminating in a Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Ekaterinburg and all-night cross procession in their honor.

100,000 faithful Orthodox Christians, monarchists, among others from 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, gathered in Ekaterinburg on the night of 16/17 July for the liturgical celebrations.

 

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

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 broadcasted 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 Passion-Bearers at Ganina Yama ravine, covering a distance of 21 km (13 miles).

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According to law enforcement agencies, about 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 Royal Passion-Bearers Monastery 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 thus referred to Ganina Yama as “a living antimens, permeated with particles of the burnt holy relics.”

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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 @ Royal Russia. 25 July 2018

In Memory of the Russian Imperial Family – 17th July 2018

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In the early morning hours of 17th July 1918, Russia’s last Emperor and Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia Nikolaevna, their son and heir Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich were murdered by a Bolshevik firing squad in the basement of the Ipatiev House in the Ural city of Ekaterinburg. 

Their bodies were taken to an abandoned mine (Ganina’s Pit) were they were thrown into the mine. The following day, their bodies were removed and buried in a shallow grave about 3.8 km away in Porosenkov Log on the Koptyakovskaya Road on the northwestern outskirts of Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg).  There they would remain hidden for more than 60 years, before being discovered by local geologists in 1979.  It was not until the summer of 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, that the remains were dug up. The remains were were buried on 17th July 1998, in St Catherine’s Chapel of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The remains of Tsesarevich Alexei and Grand Duchess Maria were discovered in 2007, they are still awaiting burial, and are currently held in the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow.

On the night of 16/17 July 2018, Orthodox Christians, monarchists, and adherents of the Imperial Family from across Russia and around the world, will gather at the Church on the Blood for a Divine Liturgy performed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.  Following the Liturgy, tens of thousands will take part in a 21-km pilgrimage from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Passion Bearers in Ganina Yama.

I will be among these pilgrims, paying homage to the Imperial Family. Upon my return, I will prepare a summary of my spiritual journey to Ekaterinburg, complete with my own photos. I will also write a longer article for a future issue of Royal Russia, and update my forthcoming book My Russia. Ekaterinburg with additional information and photos. 

Click HERE to review a new page in my Royal Russia site, dedicated to the 2018 Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 July 2018 

Divine Liturgy for Two Other Loyal Servants of Nicholas II Performed in Ekaterinburg

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This article has been researched and written from Russian media sources by Royal Russia Founder Paul Gilbert © 2018

Thursday 28th June 2018,  marked the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of two faithful servants to Emperor Nicholas II and his family – Ivan Dmitriyevich Sednev (left) and Klimenty Grigorievich Nagorny (right).

A Divine Liturgy was performed on 28th June 2018, in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, situated in the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg. 

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

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Nagorny and Tsesarevich Alexei in Tsarskoe Selo, 1907

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

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

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

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

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

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Nagorny and Alexeei Nikolaevich, in the Finnish skerries, 1914 

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

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

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 30 June 2018

Holy Synod to discuss Ekaterinburg Remains next month

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Monument to Nicholas II and his family, Church on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

This article has been researched and written from Russian media sources by Royal Russia Founder Paul Gilbert © 2018

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will hold a meeting of the Holy Synod in Ekaterinburg from July 14 to 17. 

Will the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) finally make an announcement on the Ekaterinburg remains? The visiting session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will take place during the Tsar’s Days marking the 100th anniversary of the deaths and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. Alexander Volkov, a spokesperson for the Synodal Department for Church’s Relations with Society and Mass Media of the Moscow Patriarchate noted: “With a high degree of probability, we can say that the main topic of this meeting will be the issue of recognition of the royal remains that were discovered near Ekaterinburg.” See The Fate of the Ekaterinburg Remains by Paul Gilbert

Unrecognized remains

In 1979, on the north-western outskirts of Sverdlovsk (Ekaterinburg), the remains were found by a group headed by Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin. The find was hidden until 1991, and after the fall of the USSR the remains were excavated. In 2007, a group of archaeologists led by Sergei Pogorelov, representative of the Protection and Use of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Sverdlovsk Region, discovered more remains near the original burial site. 

Bone fragments discovered at the so-called Porosenkov Log, according to the results of several examinations, were determined to be the remains of Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, three of their five children and four servants, who were all shot on the night of 16/17 July 1918. However, the ROC did not recognize them. The church claimed that the bodies of the Romanovs were destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the area of ​​the former mines of the Isetsky mine, which later became known as Ganina Yana. 

The distance between Porosenkov Log and Ganina Yama is only 3.8 kilometers. In 2000, the Bishops’ Council of the ROC founded the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs, and virtually ignored the Porosenkov Log.

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Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) has great influence in the ROC

“The struggle to recognize the remains unfolded”

Scientists have confirmed the authenticity of the remains unequivocally, however, the issue of their recognition by the church has yet to be resolved. In the spring of this year, the spokesman for Patriarch Kirill noted that all visiting meetings of the Holy Synod in 2018 “will have a planned nature” and “no emergency solutions are planned.” 

However, back in October 2017, during the Dilettante Readings in Ekaterinburg, the editor-in-chief of a local radio station Alexei Venediktov, hinted at sources in the presidential administration that on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Imperial family, “the church will recognize the Ekaterinburg remains”. The other day Venediktov wrote in his telegram channel: “The struggle for the recognition of the Imperial remains has unfolded. Kirill – against, Tikhon – for.” 

Venediktov is referring to Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov). The latter, being considered the confessor of President Vladimir Putin, is Head of the Patriarchal Council for Culture. It was under the authority of this body that the order for a new examination of the Ekaterinburg remains as a new criminal case, conducted under the supervision of the ROC was initiated. In 2015, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation was created to launch a new investigation into the deaths of the Imperial family. It should be noted that a criminal investigation had previously been carried out from 1993 to 2008, by the investigative division of the Prosecutor’s Office.

Dangerous for the patriarch

Earlier this week, the President of the Center for Political Technologies, Igor Bunin, noted a comment made by political analyst Alexei Makarkin who said: “The division of the ROC into supporters and opponents of the recognition of the Ekaterinburg remains as Holy relics is associated with specific interests.” 

“All the main public figures of the ROC understand that the remains are real. However, for Patriarch Kirill to take responsibility for such recognition – means to provoke sharp criticism in his address from the church’s extreme conservatives, who had already reacted negatively to his meeting with the pope. 

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Investigator-criminologist Vladimir Soloviev (left)

From the situation there is an end

Interlocutors note that the leadership of the country insists that the ROC recognize the Ekaterinburg remains. “[Vladimir] Putin really wants to resolve this issue and has made every effort to persuade the ROC, which continues to resist. This is not related to [presidential] elections, this is based on his idea of ​​bringing all parties to reconciliation,” stressed Igor Bunin, President of the Center for Political Technologies.  

Last year Chief Major Crimes investigator Vladimir Soloviev, who headed an investigation into the murder of the Imperial family from 1991 to 2015, explained why the ROC still resists in recognizing the Ekaterinburg remains. In his opinion, it is not so much about the disagreements on the issue that arose between the ROC and the investigation team appointed by the first president of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, but rather about the decisions taken by the hierarchs in the 1930s.  

“Since 1928, all the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) believed that the Imperial family had been killed and their remains were burned.  Everyone was sure that the conclusions of Nikolai Sokolov, the investigator appointed by Admiral Alexander Kolchak, who was engaged in an investigation into the murder of the Tsar’s family in 1919, were correct. In the church there is a tradition: when all the hierarchs said “yes”, it is very difficult to say “no” to other hierarchs afterwards. Now, knowing the fighting nature of our patriarch, it seems that he wanted to finally understand the matter once and for all. That’s why there is a full investigation from the very beginning,” – said  Soloviev.

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The Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs at Ganina Yama

Another question is what to do with the church complex at Ganina Yama, if the ROC admit that the remains of the Imperial family were still found elsewhere. Does this mean that all this time that the faithful prayed in the wrong place? The best possible solution will be the recognition of both places (Ganina Yama and Porosenkov Log), both sacred to believers. 

Soloviev noted: “Both these places are sacred in themselves. There lay members of the Imperial family, their murderers spilled these places in their blood. The bodies lay for a day in the Ganina Pit, and yet they lay for a long time at Porosenkov Log!”  According to the memoirs of the archaeologists who participated in 1991 in extracting the first part of the skeleton from the burial site, they failed to extract a large amount of fat from the earth that was released during the decomposition of the bodies. Thus, the soil in the area of ​​the Porosenkov Log is literally imbued with the remains of the Romanovs, ranked among the Orthodox saints by the Church. 

It can be said that in March 2016 the Russian Orthodox Church began preparations for such a development of events. At a meeting with the first vice-premier of the Sverdlovsk government Vladimir Vlasov, the metropolitan of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill voiced the position of believers that if the remains were nevertheless recognized as authentic, that a church would be constructed at Porosenkov Log, similar to that at Ganina Yama. See ROC Seeks Claim to Site of Royal Remains Grave Near Ekaterinburg 

Because of this position, the implementation of the project, which was then carried out by the regional authorities, was stalled. They had planned to transfer the lands of the Porosenkov Log (about 3.7 hectares) to the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore and create there a commemorative museum complex for the 100th anniversary of the shooting of the Romanovs. See Ekaterinburg Eparchy and Local Museum Argue Over Future of Porosenkov Log

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Porosenkov Log is 3.8 km from Ganina Yama

Murder of the Romanovs and the discovery of remains

The family of the Emperor Nicholas II who abdicated in 1917 from the Russian throne, along with his family the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the Tsesarevich Alexei, the Grand Duchesses – Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and their four faithful retainers Dr. Eugene Botkin, the maid Anna Demidova, the cook Ivan Kharitonov, and the valet Aloysius Trupp were all shot on the night of 16/17 July 17 1918 in the house of engineer Ipatiev, situated in the area of ​​the Ascension Hill in the center of Ekaterinburg.

Their remains lay hidden in a forested area for more than 60 years before their initial discovery. It is believed that the first discoverer of this place in the Porosenkov Log on the Koptyakovskaya Road on the northwestern outskirts of Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg) in the summer of 1979 was the Ural geologist Alexander Avdonin with M. Kochurov, G. Vasiliev, and G. Ryabov. However, the remains then had to be reburied. The political climate at the time did not allow them to be revealed to the world. It was not until the summer of 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, that the remains were dug up. Only nine skeletons out of eleven were discovered. Not only did this give grounds for doubting the authenticity of the remains, it also led to conspiracy theories that perhaps two of the children had survived.

In July 1998, the remains found in the Porosenkov Log were buried in St Catherine’s Chapel of the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Despite a series of examinations, some of which were conducted in laboratories in the United States and England, the Moscow Patriarchate still did not recognize that the bodies found near the Koptyakovskaya Road were the Romanovs.

In 2007, thanks to the Ural specialists of local lore and archaeologists there in the Porosenkov Log area, a second grave was discovered near the original, which revealed the remains of the Tsesarevich Alexei and his sister the Grand Duchess Maria. The new examination confirmed their authenticity. However, the bones of the two children of Nicholas II are still not devoted to the earth. For some time they were kept in the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, then in the State Archives of the Russian Federation. They were then handed over to Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov) and transferred to the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. See Remains of Tsesarevich Alexey, Grand Duchess Maria Transferred to Novospassky Monastery

It is expected that closure of this issue rests with the results of the new criminal case, announced by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation on 23 September 2015. At a meeting of the Bishops’ Council in Moscow, which took place at the end of November 2017, members voiced a large array of their conclusions, generally acknowledging the validity of the initial examinations, thanks to which the Ekaterinburg remains were recognized. Nevertheless, the final judgment on this issue must be made by the Holy Synod.

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos of Ganina Yama

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos about the Ekaterinburg Remains

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos about the Holy Royal Martyrs

Click HERE to review more articles, news and photos about Ekaterinburg and the Romanovs

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 28 June 2018

Ekaterinburg Diocese confirms visit of Patriarch Kirill to the Ural capital

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The press service of the Ekaterinburg Diocese have confirmed that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will arrive in the Ural capital on 13th July, to participate in commemorative events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the death and martyrdom of Emperor Nicholas II and his family. The press service added that the head of the ROC will bring to the city the relics of the Holy New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna from the Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow.

The reliquary will be solemnly met at 17:00 in the Church on the Blood, followed by an all-night vigil. 

Then, as expected, Patriarch Kirill will take part in the main events of the Tsar’s Days in Ekaterinburg on 16th and 17th July. On 16th July he will attend the Divine Liturgy in the side-chapel of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers of the Church on the Blood. On the same day at 13:00, he will participate in a procession along the Ekaterinburg Path of Sorrows (which marks the route of the Royal Passion-Bearers in Ekaterinburg) – from Shartash Station to the Church on the Blood. At 15:00 he will participate in a small vespers with an akathist to the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers. At 16:30 an all-night vigil will begin in the courtyard in front of the Church on the Blood, in which His Holiness will attend. 

At 23:30 Patriarch Kirill will lead the main service of the Tsar’s Days – the night Divine Liturgy on the site near the Church on the Blood. The Divine Liturgy will end in the early hours of 17th July, after which, at 02:30 the 21 km royal procession from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Royal Passion-Bearers at Ganina Yama will commence. Upon the arrival of the procession at Ganima Yama, a prayer will be offered to the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers.

The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna took a martyr’s death along with the nun Varvara and representatives of the House of Romanov in Alapaevsk on 18th July, 1918. In this regard, according to the program of the Imperial Days on 18th July, at 02:00,  a Divine Liturgy will be performed at the Holy Trinity Bishop’s Compound in Alapaevsk and at 04:00 – a moleben at the mine, where they were murdered. His Holiness will take part in these events, and will perform the act of consecration of the Church of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 June 2018