Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
President of Abkhazia, Alexander Ankvab has been awarded the Order of the Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas on behalf of the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Hilarion, Vestnik Kavkaza reports.
The order was awarded for Ankvab's work in strengthening Orthodoxy and preserving Orthodox shrines in Abkhazia. Alexander Ankvab was also given a myrrh-streaming icon of Tsar Nicholas.
© Russkiy Mir and Royal Russia. 11 January, 2013
For the past 7 years, the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg has played host to the Star of Bethlehem Ice Sculpture Festival.
This year's theme marked the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty in which 11 teams took part. Each team created a sculpture of the Holy Royal Martyrs from ice.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 11 January, 2013
Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna on the roof of the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, 1903. Nicholas, like his father (Emperor Alexander III) preferred Moscow to St. Petersburg.
According to Marc Ferro: "Nicholas II preferred Moscow to St. Petersburg because the old city embodied the past, whereas St. Petersburg represented modernity, the Enlightenment and atheism."
During his reign, Nicholas expressed the desire to spend Holy Week in the former Russian capital, and it was here, during the coronation festivities (1896) and the Romanov Tercentennary (1913), Moscow's fervent greeting to their Tsar confirmed his feeling for the city.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 January, 2013
In 1909, Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (KR) and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna (nee Princess Elizabeth of Saxe-Altenburg) celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.
Konstantin presented his wife with this beautiful silver frame containing his image at the top and the dates 1884-1909, marking their 25 years of marriage.
Below are the images of their 8 children: Ioann, Gavriil, Tatiana, Konstantine, Oleg, Igor, Georgi and Vera.
Also depicted are their 4 residences: the Marble Palace, Strelna, Pavlovsk, and Ostashevo.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 January, 2013
The Russian publishing firm of Alfaret in St. Petersburg, have taken on the monumental task of issuing fascimile editions of the coronation albums of the Russian sovereigns.
A total of seven albums have been published of the following Romanov sovereigns: Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (originally issued in 1856); the Empresses Anna Ivanovna, Elizabeth Petrovna; and the Emperors Nicholas I, Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II.
The albums are exquisite collectors editions bound in leather with gilt lettering, complete with original text (Russian and French) and illustrations. Each album has been published as a limited edition with prices ranging from $5,000 - $15,0000 USD!
Please note that these books are not available for sale through Royal Russia's online bookshop.
© Paul Gilbert. 8 January, 2013
Today marks Christmas Day according to the Julian Calendar used by Orthodox Christians. This hour-long documentary was produced by Robin Scott and directed by Georges Gachot in 2006. It was filmed in the cathedrals, monasteries and sacred palaces in Moscow, the Golden Ring and New Jerusalem. The accompanying music is sung by the Moscow Chamber Choir and the Choir of Trinity St. Sergius Lavra. This wonderful documentary is presented here to all Orthodox Christians who visit the Royal Russia web site and blog, and to those who share a special interest and passion for all things Russian. It represents the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Saviour. "Christ is Born! Glorify Him!"
The spiritual culture of Russia is reflected in the beauty of churches and monasteries, in the paintings and frescoes that adorn them and - above all - in the sacred music that is sung in them.
The Russian Orthodox Church derives from that of Byzantium, which also inspired the 'onion-dome' style of church architecture. Many of the centers of ancient worship are contained within the high walls of kremlin fortresses, witnesses to a history of resistance to invasion.
The millennium of Christianity in Russia in 1988 coincided with the new age of 'glasnost' and 'perestroika' (openness and reconstruction), marking the beginning of the end for the Soviet state. For seventy years religious belief and practice had been discouraged, and hundreds of places of worship had been either destroyed or allowed to fall into almost hopeless disrepair.
A few of the very finest cathedrals and monasteries were maintained as museums, like those in the Kremlin in Moscow. Some monasteries miraculously survived. The Trinity St Sergius Monastery at Sergiev Posad (formerly Zagorsk) is the prime example.
Since 1988 many places of worship have been given back to the Orthodox Church, the 'established' church until the Revolution and regarded once again as Russia's national church. Massive restoration work has been accompanied by the return of sacred works of art hidden away for decades.
An aging congregation of believers - largely women - helped to keep Russian Orthodox Christianity alive. In recent years more and more young people have turned to the Church, not least for spiritual comfort and uplift. There has been a revival in choral singing and the rediscovery of many glorious works of sacred Russian music.
Even non-believers cannot fail to be moved by the orthodox liturgy in all its beauty; from the apparel of the priests, the pattern of the liturgy, the candle-lit icons, the responses of clergy, congregation and choir - to the devotion of the worshippers. It is this feeling of spiritual oneness in all its most Russian sense which Holy Russia seeks to reveal.
Christmas, (celebrated thirteen days after 'Western' Christmas under the old calendar) is one of the most important of the annual festivals of the Orthodox Church, the other two being the feast of Trinity (Pentecost) and, above all, Easter. The festival begins with the Christmas vigil and midnight liturgy on Christmas night (January 6 - 7) and ends twelve days later with Epiphany and the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ.
The Patriarch Alexei II (1929-2008) leads both of the main liturgies, parts of which are shown in Holy Russia, at the Epiphany (Yelokhovsky) and Assumption cathedrals in Moscow. Whereas the former remained a place of worship in the Soviet years, the latter (holiest of Russian cathedrals where Tsars were crowned) was only reopened for worship in 1989. At the Epiphany Cathedral the Patriarch is seen giving the final blessing (or 'dismissal') at the end of Christmas matins before beginning the midnight liturgy.
At the Cathedral of the Assumption (or Dormition) the Patriarch is seen completing the preparation of the bread and wine, which will be later consecrated for Holy Communion. The bread and the wine are carried then in procession from the offertory table to the altar for consecration. The Patriarch receives them; but before placing them on the altar he blesses the congregation as he offers them symbolically for the needs of the whole world. These are unique pictures never before shown in these surroundings.
Other services include part of the special Epiphany Liturgy at Kazan Cathedral at Kolomenskoye and an ordinary liturgy in the Church of the Resurrection at Kostroma (some three hundred kilometers from Moscow). The program ends with the Epiphany procession at the monastery of New Jerusalem and the great blessing of the waters.
This seventeenth century 'Holy City' was blown up by the retreating German Army in 1943 but is being gradually restored. The recently appointed Archdeacon leads a procession to the nearby - ice-cold - river for the blessing of the cross and symbolic bathing by some of the worshippers. It is the first time this ceremony has taken place since 1917.
The liturgy forms an important part of the program as does the music recorded by two of Russia's leading choirs: the Chamber Choir of Moscow conducted by Vladimir Minin and the Choir of Trinity St Sergius Monastery and Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary conducted by Archimandrite Mattheus. The choral singing is all a cappella (unaccompanied). It embraces a wide range of works, both traditional (for the monastic choir) and more modern for the essentially polyphonic singing of the Moscow Chamber Choir. © Royal Russia. 7 January, 2013
© Royal Russia. 7 January, 2013
It’s a day of strict fasting when nothing except “sochivo”, a special Christmas Eve dish prepared from wheat grains, rice, beans, peas or vegetables, is allowed, hence the name of the day – Sochelnik.
In his Christmas message, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill urged believers to be merciful and tolerant to others and reminded them of the love that God bestows on all his lambs.
The Patriarch will lead a Christmas Eve liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow tonight.
Celebrating Christmas on January 7th together with the Russian Church will be the Church of Jerusalem and the Serb and Georgian Churches.
Western Christians who use the Gregorian calendar celebrated Christmas on December 25.
© Voice of Russia, Interfax. 06 January, 2013
Gatchina Palace played host to an elaborate Christmas festival this year. The event was spread over 2 weeks from 25th to 31st December, 2012 and 2nd to 8th January, 2013.
The festival included special tours and programmes within the palace, including Christmas With the Imperial Family, as well as Christmas carols, and a Christmas Market in the courtyard of the palace.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 5 January, 2013