The Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, Ekaterinburg (early 20th century)
In October of 1824, there was a great festivity at the Novo- Tikhvinsky Convent in Ekaterinburg, as the sisters welcomed an eminent guest: the Emperor Alexander I. For them, he was not only the Tsar but also their benefactor, for it was due to his royal patronage, the opening of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent became possible. At the moment of this joyous encounter no one could imagine that in less than a hundred years, the sisters would become the benefactors of the last Russian Emperor, Nicholas II...
During the difficult years of suffering under the Bolsheviks, the sisters did not forget all the good deeds they had received. When in 1918, Tsar Nicholas II with all of his family were kept under arrest in the Ipatiev House, the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent prayed for them, asking God to relieve their sufferings, to strengthen them, and to give them the strength to bear everything with Christian humility.
The sisters' help came not only through prayer but also through deeds: disregarding their own safety, they supported the Tsar and his family by passing over various foods to them through the guards on a daily basis. On June 18th of 1918, a month before their murders, the Empress Alexandra Fedorvna made the following entry in her diary: "The kind nuns are now sending milk and eggs for Aleksey and for us, as well as cream."
On July 16th, 1918,while making their daily visit bearing food for the August family, the nuns were told not to come any more. That night, the Tsar and his entire family perished as martyrs at the hands of the Bolsheviks.
During the 23 years of his reign, Nicholas II did not personally visit the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, but the following fact speaks of his benevolence. When the artists at the convent painted a portrait of the Emperor Nicholas II in the Life-Guards' uniform of hussar regiment and passed it along to St. Petersburg, the Emperor placed this gift in his personal apartment at the Winter Palace. The portrait was painted by Nun Emiliana in 1896. In October 1917, during the assault against the palace, this portrait was bayonetted by soldiers and sailors. For over 70 years, it was kept at the Museum of the October Revolution in Leningrad. Now it has been restored, but the cuts from the bayonets were left in place.
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent
During the 1920s, the Novo-Tikhvinsky Convent, like many other convents, monasteries and churches in Russia, was subjected to terrible persecution, looting and destruction at the hands of the Bolsheviks. The convent saw a revival in 1994, and today accomodates 150 nuns, all of whom carry out charitable work in the community, as well as work in the convents icon workshop, publishing house, or sewing workshops.
Situated in the southern outskirts of Ekaterinburg, the Novo-Tikvinsky Convent welcomes pilgrims and visitors. Each year on the night of July 16/17 a liturgy is held in memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs, whom the nuns of the convent had shown such kindness in their final days.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 8 August, 2012