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Sunday, 14 April 2013
Beautiful Orthodox Churches of Russia No. 7
Topic: Beautiful Orthodox Churches


Situated just south of the Moscow Kremlin is the Holy Protection Cathedral at the Saints Martha and Mary Convent. Built between 1908 and 1912 by the Russian architect Aleksei Viktorovich Shchusev (1873-1949), is considered one of Russia's most remarkable examples of Art Nouveau style.

It is interesting to note that Shchusev also built the Lenin Mausoleum which houses the mummified remains of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

The frescoes and icons of the church are the work of painter Mikhail Nesterov

The frescoes and icons of the church are the work of painter Mikhail Nesterov, a protogé of the railway tycoon Savva Mamontov. Nesterov's works are noted for their lyrical colours, beautiful design and the accessible saintliness of the personage he depicts on his icons and frescoes.

The sisterhood of Saints Martha and Mary was founded in 1905 by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the sister of the last Russian empress, Alexandra Feodorovna. When her husband Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was killed by a terrorist bomb, the widowed Grand Duchess organized the semi-monastic order called the Sisters of Charity and devoted the rest of her life to aiding the sick and the wounded. On July 1918 she was murdered at Alapaevsk, along with other members of the Russian Imperial family.

In 1922 the Bolsheviks removed valuable gold and silver objects such as ikon oklads, rizas, gospel covers, crosses and other ecclesiastical and liturgical objects.

In 1926, the smaller Church of SS Martha & Mary was closed, though the remaining nuns were able to remove over 200 icons and the “royal doors” from the cathedral by moving them to the Holy Protection Cathedral. Shortly after this, the order was officially disbanded, and eighteen of the remaining nuns were exiled to Turkestan in Central Asia.

In 1928, both churches were finally closed, looted, pillaged, and desecrated. The frescos by Nesterov were covered and the church was turned into a movie theater. From 1945, the Church was used by the Grabar Institute as an icon and painting restoration studio.

In 1992 the celebration of divine services was resumed in the Church of Martha and Mary, and in 1994 the sisterhood was re-established.

In 1999 the Educational Center of the SS Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy was founded, with the blessings of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia (1929-2008), for the purpose of training Orthodox girls as certified nurses.

The Holy Protection Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 2006. It has undergone restoration and now holds regular services. 

The gates of the Martha and Mary Convent 

The Martha and Mary Convent is situated at Ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka, 34 and is open to worshippers and visitors. In 1990, a monument to the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna was erected in the courtyard and can be seen to this day.

© Royal Russia. 14 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:15 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 14 April 2013 7:23 AM EDT
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Saturday, 13 April 2013
ROC Urges Dialogue on Restoration of Monarchy in Russia
Topic: Russian Monarchy


The Head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin

In an interview with RIA Novosti (April 4th, 2013), the Head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said, when asked the question: "In the Orthodox community we often hear the opinion that the best policitical system for  Russia is the monarchy. Would you agree with this view, that is it possible, in principle, for a revival of the monarchy in Russia? "

"I would not rule out anything. In the "Basics of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church" refers to the possibility of a spiritual revival of society that would allow the transition to a more religiously rooted form of government, one that would include the monarchy. A more religiously rooted form of government is far better form of government than that of a republic. But I would caution against any artificially imposed monarchy, without the willingness of the Russian people, especially the spiritual readiness. This revival would be wrong - and that in itself would devalue and weaken the monarchical idea.

"Moreover, I know that there are some political and technological scenarios, developed by external forces to Russia, which suggest a monarchy under the strict control of foreign - as an option for Russia's subordination to such controls. I am afraid that this "revival" is not accepted by our people and unlikely to favor Russia.

"In general, the debate on this subject should be avoided. However, let the Russian people discuss, argue for and against, and most importantly, let them weight the pros and cons that have taken place during the monarchical history of Russia."

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 13 April, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:24 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 April 2013 1:10 PM EDT
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Rare Russian Vases Sell for $2.7 Million in Private Sale
Topic: Auctions


Jerry Holley, executive vice president of Dallas Auction Gallery, rotates a rare Russian vases made in 1833 by Russia's Imperial Porcelain Factory and on display at the gallery in Dallas. The rare 4 1/2-foot tall vases, which had been packs away for around a decade, were sold Thursday, April 11, 2013, for $2.7 million in a private sale about a week before they were to be auctioned. Photo Credit © L.M. Otero, Associated Press

Two vases produced at the Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory in the 19th century have been sold in the United States for $2.7 million, a report posted on Dallas Auction Gallery’s website says, Voice of Russia reports.

The vases, dated 1833, were acquired by a private collector who asked not to be named.

Before that, they were part of a private collection of American oil tycoon Franco Battram, who bought them at an auction in Munich in the early 20th century.

Battram’s descendants decided to put the vases up for auction after their authenticity was established and confirmed by experts.

For more information on this auction, please refer to our original article posted on March 15th, 2013: Dallas Auction Gallery to Sell Imperial Porcelain Vases

© Russkiy Mir. 13 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:06 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 April 2013 12:50 PM EDT
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Friday, 12 April 2013
Archive of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Moves to Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Tsarskoye Selo’s collection of items from the American descendants of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich is to be increased with over 100 photographs, letters, dozens of books, and paintings and portraits of close relatives to the Tsar’s family.

The generous gift is from Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky who has made another generous donation of items related to his grandfather, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov, the grandson of Emperor Alexander II and cousin of Emperor Nicholas II.

The handover ceremony, timed to celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, has taken place in New York. The Act of Donation was signed by Mr. Romanoff Ilyinsky and Consul General Mr. Igor Golubovsky of the Russian Federation.

The archive and other items, including the portraits of Grand Duke Dmitri (see above left) and Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fiodorovna (above right), will join our exhibition The Romanovs: From Tsarskoye Selo to Cincinnati, which will run at the Zubov Wing of the Catherine Palace from July 17th to September 30th, 2013.

The exhibition will highlight Grand Duke Dmitri. He is known to have had to leave Russia after the assassination of Rasputin in December 1916 and move to Persia; there he was in military service and then learned of the 1917 revolution. Afterwards Dmitri lived in London, Paris and Davos where he died in 1942.At the exhibition, that period of his life will be reflected in numerous photographs taken by the Grand Duke and in his “home videos” of the 1920s–1930s.

As Mr. Romanoff Ilyinsky said in New York, “The items I am handing over to the Museum are the personal belongings and materials related to the life of my grandfather, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. These are only part of the family archive. The remainder will gradually return to Russia. It’s a common decision of Dmitri’s descendants.”

© Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. 12 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:23 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 12 April 2013 8:31 AM EDT
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Thursday, 11 April 2013
French Cathedral Declared Russian Property
Topic: Russian Church



A French Court has ruled that one of the country's largest cathedrals is actually the property of Russia as it was paid for by Tsar Nicholas II. 

France’s Court of Cassation has upheld Russia’s ownership of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice, thus making the final decision over a seven-year dispute, AFP reports on Thursday.

In 2010, the Nice Superior Court declared Russia to be the rightful owner of St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral, dismissing a claim by the Russian Orthodox Association of Nice (ACOR), which had managed the church for over 80 years.

The ACOR filed an appeal with a court in the French city of Aix-en-Provence and refused to vacate the church. In May 2011, the court ruled in Russia’s favor and the ACOR representatives had to give up the keys and leave, but they filed a second appeal with a higher court.

The Court of Cassation has made the case final.

St. Nicholas Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral outside Russia, was built in 1912 in Nice and opened by Tsar Nicholas II, who had funded the construction, in the same place where his uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich died in 1865. The land on which the church was built had been purchased by Alexander II.  In the 1920s, the church came under ACOR management, however their lease to the church expired on December 31 2007. 

In 2006, Russia decided to retrieve its property and filed a lawsuit to this aim.  The church is a popular tourist attraction with up to 150,000 people visiting it annually, according to the French media.

© RAPSI Russian Legal Information Agency. 11 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:19 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 January 2016 6:53 AM EST
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The Art of Restoration at the Moscow Kremlin Museums
Topic: Exhibitions

Photo: Cup-Nautilus. © Moscow Kremlin Museums

A new exhibition, being held in the Assumption Belfry, incorporates outstanding artworks from the Moscow Kremlin Museums’ collection, that have passed through the hands of restorers over the last ten - fifteen years. The exposition serves as a representation of the profound research and scientific work, being carrying out in the museum but still staying a veiled mystery to our visitors.

Ninety five XIVth-XXth century masterpieces, made from various materials and finished with various techniques, are exposed at the exhibition. The museums’ specialists, having mastered to perfection the art of restoration, successfully employ current technologies and innovations in the restoration industry and show an exquisite workmanship in renovating artworks and historical artifacts. Their diligence and proficiency gave us an opportunity to admire the beauty and splendour of the restored items therefore to learn more about our past.

The exhibition runs until August 11th, 2013 in the Assumption Belfry of the Moscow Kremlin.

© Moscow Kremlin Museum. 11 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:11 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 April 2013 6:18 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Romanov Treasures to Return to Russia
Topic: Tsarskoye Selo


Angelica and Paul Ilyinsky, in a 1999 photograph. Source: Palm Beach Daily News 

The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve is to receive a collection of items from the American descendants of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.

Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky, the son of Paul Ilyinsky (1928-2004), and grandson of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich will present the museum with a gift which includes "more than 100 photographs, dozens of books, and portraits of members of the Imperial family."

"The personal items related to my grandfather returning to Russia are only part of the family archive," said Ilyinsky in New York, "the remainder of the collection will eventually find its way home to Russia." - Source: Itar-Tass

Michael Romanoff Ilyinsky made a previous gift to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve in January of this year. The article Russia's Largest Collection of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Memorabilia was added to Royal Russia Bulletin on January 30th.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 10 April, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:18 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:44 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 9 April 2013
A Russian Moment 10 - The Children's Island at Tsarskoye Selo
Topic: A Russian Moment


The Children's Island is situated in the Alexander Park at Tsarskoye Selo, and a short walk from the Alexander Palace.

Dominating the tiny island is a pavilion simply known as the Children's House. It was built in 1830 according to the design of the Russian architect Alexei Gornostayev for the children of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855). The house, island and pond were all later enjoyed by the August children of his successors: Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II.

The pavilion contained a Drawing-Room, and four small rooms; to the right of the Drawing-Room were the Rooms of the Tsesarevich Alexander Nicholaevich (the future Emperor Alexander II) and his sister, Grand Duchess Maria Nicholaevna, and to the left the Rooms of Grand Duchesses Alexandra Nicholaevna and Olga Nicholaevna. The rooms were decorated very simply; the ceilings painted in the Empire style and in the style of Louis XVI, and included children's furniture.

The Children's Island is currently in terrible state of disrepair and neglect. During the 1990s, the Pavilion was used by the homeless and by drug addicts, who left the interiors in an appalling state. The Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve have plans to eventually restore the pavilion and island and to incorporate it into the museum complex.

The Children's Island will be the subject of the next installment of My Russia, which will appear in Royal Russia Annual No. 4, to be published in August 2013.

My article will provide interesting facts and details on the history and use of the Children's Island and House based on Russian language sources, and will also include a floor plan of the Children's House and my own photographs which I took during two successive visits to Tsarskoye Selo in which I actually walked on the island to view the Children's House and the pet cemetery up close.

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 09 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:28 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:08 AM EDT
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Monday, 8 April 2013
Cossack Community Expands in Australia
Topic: Cossacks


A group of Russian Cossacks announced Monday the creation of an Australian branch and four new traditional units there.

A Siberian group of Cossacks, the Zabaikalsky Cossack Host Association, said that the decision to expand the organization was made following a request from Australia-based descendants of the Cossacks who emigrated after the 1917 Russian revolution.

The request was submitted by Australian Cossack ataman Simeon Boikov in light of “the growing number of Cossacks in Australia,” a spokesperson for the organization told RIA Novosti.

Four Australian “stanitsas,” historically villages inside a Cossack host, as a territory of Cossack settlements was known in imperial Russia, will be established in Melbourne, Geelong, Dandenong and on the island of Tasmania.

The first and only Cossack “stanitsa” in Australia was established as a cultural and historic organization in June 2012 in the town of Cabramatta near Sydney.

The local Cossack diaspora then compiled 152 people, some of whom have voiced their intention to move to Siberia’s Zabaikalsky Krai, the Cossack association said.

The Cossacks, who served as a special police force in tsarist Russia, are remembered for their role in fighting against the revolutionary side in the 1917 uprising against the tsar. Many of them fled abroad following the Bolshevik revolution.

Monday’s announcement came amid an ongoing revival of Cossack culture in Russia, though critics have questioned the authenticity of some self-proclaimed Cossacks.

© RIA Novosti. 08 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:55 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 April 2013 8:01 AM EDT
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Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Petersburg Celebrates 300th Anniversary
Topic: Russian Church


On April 5, 1713, in St. Petersburg, in the presence of Peter I, the wooden Church of the Annunciation was consecrated. This day is considered the official founding date of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.

According to legend, Peter I, surveying in 1710 the neighborhood of St. Petersburg, took notice of the place where, it is believed that on July 15, 1240, Prince Alexander scored a famous victory over the combined forces of the Swedes, Norwegians and Finns led by Birger Jarl. This important skirmish became known as the Battle of the Neva, for which Prince Alexander became known as Alexander Nevsky. Peter I ordered that a monastery in honor of the Holy Trinity and St. Alexander Nevsky be built at this site.

In 1714, monastic cells were built here and monastic communal life started. In 1720 under the monastery was opened a printing house, and later – the Theological Academy, which still operates. In 1722, in accordance with the project of Domenico Trezzini the wooden Church of the Annunciation was replaced by the Church of the Annunciation of the Holy Mary – the oldest church of St. Petersburg. On September 10, 1724, the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky were transferred here from Bogolyubski Nativity Monastery in Vladimir. Here they had stayed until 1790, and then were moved to the new Holy Trinity Cathedral, where they remained until 1922.

Construction work at the monastery lasted almost until the end of the 18th century. Metropolitan House, House of Bishops, the new buildings were constructed. In 1776, under the direction of the architect I. E. Starov, started the creation works of a new monumental Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. In addition to the Trinity Cathedral, Starov designed a round square at the entrance to the monastery, built the Gate Church, which completes the perspective of Nevsky Prospekt, the stone wall and two corner houses and building of the almshouses at the entrance to the square.

On December 29, 1797, Emperor Paul I ordered the Holy Synod to rename the Alexander Nevsky Monastery “into Lavra with the staff equal to the one of Kiev-Pechersk and Trinity St. Sergius.”

From the very beginning of St. Petersburg’s existence, Alexander Nevsky Lavra became the burial place for outstanding statesmen and public figures, representatives of art and culture. The ensemble of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra contains three cemeteries: Tikhvin, existing from 1823, Nikolsky, founded in 1861, and Lazarevskoye.

Numerous cultural figures were laid to rest at the monastery, including Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Glinka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and many others.

After the October Revolution of 1917 the monastery was abolished and its church closed, and countless relics and works of art were transferred to the Russian Museum, State Hermitage Museum and other museums of St. Petersburg.

In 1957, Holy Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church as a parish church. June 3, 1989, the cathedral received back the relics of St.. Alexander Nevsky. In 1987, St. Nicholas cemetery church opened. In the summer of 1995 Holy Spirit building was partially returned to the St. Petersburg diocese. The final transfer of all the Lavra buildings to the Diocese took place April 18, 2000.

© Russkiy Mir. 08 April, 2013

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:52 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 8 April 2013 7:55 AM EDT
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