On 17 -18 July we commemorate the martyrdom of the members of the Russian Royal Family – the feast day of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers Tsar Nicholas II, Tsaritsa Alexandra, Crown Prince Alexis, and Grand-duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and that of our Patron Saint, the Holy Royal Martyr Saint Elisabeth.
They lived during the tragic time of great upheaval, marked by widening divisions, mounting passions and raging hate, directed in large part at the members of the Russian Royal Family. The courage of the holy royal martyrs, their mercy, steadfast faith and readiness to entrust their fate to the Lord softened the hearts of many and paved the way for future reconciliation.
Less than a year before her martyrdom, Saint Elisabeth wrote: "I have deep pity for Russia and its children who do not know what they are doing. But do we not love our children a hundred times more when they are ill than when they are in good health? We must direct our thoughts towards the Kingdom of Heaven and say with submission: May Thy will be done.”
The lives of these saints are a great inspiration to the Convent’s ministry. In a sermon dedicated to the feast day of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers, the Convent’s spiritual father Andrey Lemeshonok said: “The Royal Martyrs are examples of love and life built on the Christian faith. They were killed, but the fruits of life sprout on the blood of the Holy Martyrs. Russians and Belarusians who lived separately from the Church and holiness for decades, are finding God, and this is not a coincidence. It happened through the prayers of the New Martyrs of the Russian Orthodox Church, and all those who suffered for Christ throughout the 20th century.”
To many in our wider monastic community, the commemoration of the feast days is a deeply personal experience. In 2018, a large team of artisans from the mosaic workshop travelled to Ekaterinburg to complete a mural with a depiction of the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers at the church erected at the place of the royal family’s assassination. The mosaic was inaugurated on the 100th anniversary of the royal family’s martyrdom. “Working on the mosaic icon of the Holy Passion bearers would not leave anyone indifferent. We felt the help and intervention of the saints, and it was a great blessing,” said Varvara Maslova, a member of the team that worked on the mosaic.
This year’s celebration takes place mainly at the Churches of the Holy Royal Martyrs and of the Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth. All-night vigils will be held on the eve of each feast day, followed by Divine Liturgies, the reading of Akathists and Holy Cross Processions in the morning. Guided tours will be offered to visitors to the Convent on 17 and 18 July.
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