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Wednesday, 9 October 2013
The Final Resting Place of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich
Topic: Sergei Alexandrovich GD

The remains of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, Novospassky Monastery in Moscow 

On February 17, 1905, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was assassinated near the Nikolsky Gate of the Moscow Kremlin. Unlike all the other grand dukes who were buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral St. Petersburg, his remains were buried in a crypt of the Chudov Monastery within the precincts of the Moscow Kremlin. On April 2, 1908, a memorial cross designed by Viktor Vasnetsov was erected on the spot where he was murdered. The cross was later destroyed by the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin himself on May 1, 1918.

The Chudov Monastery was demolished in 1930, to make way for the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet which was built on the site. The burial crypt of the Grand Duke was located in a courtyard of that building, which had been used as a parking lot. The crypt remained undisturbed for decades, when in 1986, building workers doing repairs in the Kremlin discovered the blocked up entrance of the burial vault. The coffin was opened and found to contain the Grand Duke’s remains, covered with the military greatcoat of the Kiev regiment, decorations, and an icon. He had left written instructions that he was to be buried in the Preobrazhensky Lifeguard regiment uniform, but as his body was so badly mutilated this proved impossible. 

On September 17, 1995, the coffin was officially exhumed.  His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II held a Panikhida in the Cathedral of the Archangel of the Moscow Kremlin. The grand duke’s remains were then transferred and reburied in a vault of the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow. In 1999, a replica of the memorial cross destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 was erected on the grounds of the monastery. The new monument was created by D. Grishin, and the sculptor Nikolai Orlov and based on the original sketches by Viktor Vasnetsov. 

A replica of Vasnetsov's memorial cross now stands on the grounds of the monastery marking the spot of the grand duke's crypt
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 09 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:22 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 February 2015 5:54 AM EST
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Tuesday, 8 October 2013
Russia Celebrates Life of St. Sergius of Radonezh
Topic: Russian Church

St. Sergius of Radonezh 

October 8 marks the anniversary of the death of the St. Sergius of Radonezh, a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia and one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s most highly venerated saints. Today Patriarch Kirill will preside over a service in honor of the saint at the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius.

According to the saint’s life tale, he was born to a boyar family near Rostov Velikiy, where Varnitsy Monastery now stands. He was originally baptized with the name Bartholomew. His parents Kirill and Maria became impoverished and moved to Radonezh together with their three sons: Stefan, Bartholomew and Peter. 

In 1334, after the death of his parents, Bartholomew moved to to Khotkovo near Moscow, joining his widowed older brother Stefan. In 1337, he was tonsured a monk with the name Sergius and was ordained to the priesthood. In seeking a more secluded place, he and his brother found such a place in the deep forest near the Marovets hill and built a small cell and a simple chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity in 1340.

The brothers lived a secluded life in the forest, and in time Stephen found the life of seclusion difficult and left Sergius to live in Epiphany monastery in Moscow. With the departure of his brother Sergius lived alone for a number of years. The wild animals seemed to recognize him, as packs of wolves and bears would come to his hut but would not harm him. According to legend, one bear came to his hut to share Sergius' last piece of bread with him.

Gradually people learned of Sergius and approach him for spiritual guidance. Soon, the cell grew to a small hermitage of twelve monks. The hermitage of the Holy Trinity soon became the spiritual center that eventually became the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius.

Sergius of Radonezh blessing Dmitri Donskoi before the Battle of Kulikovo. Artist: Ernst Lissner
As Holy Trinity monastery grew, Sergius began to send his disciples to spread the Gospel to the natives across central and northern Russia during the reign of Dmitry Donskoy. The number of monasteries founded by these disciples approached 400, some of which were established in the most difficult places. These included the monasteries of Borisoglebsky near Rostov, Ferapontov, Kyrillo-Belozersky, Golutvin in Kolomna, and Pokrovsky near Borovsk. All these monasteries formed links of a new country centered around Moscow. As the commerce centering on Holy Trinity monastery increased a settlement was formed at the monastery gates that grew into the town of Sergiev Posad.

The news of his life and works of wonder spread far and wide. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheus sent him a charter confirming the new rules of community cloister life established by Sergius at the Holy Trinity Monastery. Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow honored Sergius as a friend and entrusted him in the tasks of reconciling differences among the princes of Moscow and Russia. 

In the Russian struggles with the Tatar Khan Mamai, Sergius blessed the Prince Dimitry Donskoi as he departed for battle in 1380 with the words, "Go fearless prince and believe in God's help". Dimitri's victory at the Battle of Kulikovo was a momentous one in the history of Russia.

There are churches and cathedrals throughout the world built in honor of St. Sergius. The Roman Catholic Church officially recognizes Sergius as a saint, listing him in the Martyrologium Romanum. He is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on September 25, the date of his death according to the Old Style calendar.

Sergius died 1392 and was glorified (canonized) in 1452. His incorrupt relics were found in 1422 and placed in the new Trinity Cathedral of the Lavra. The church commemorates him on the day of his death, and on July 5, the day his relics were uncovered. Among the many affectionate titles given him, he has been referred to as the "Abbot of Russia" and "valiant voevod" of the Russian land.

In 2014 Russia will mark the 700th anniversary of the birth of St. Sergius. A working group has been established by the president of Russia to organize the festivities. 
© Russkiy Mir. 08 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:41 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 October 2013 6:51 AM EDT
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Exhibition: Willem II and Anna Pavlovna: Royal Splendour at the Dutch Court
Topic: Exhibitions

Photo: Wedding portrait of Crown Prince Willem II and Anna Pavlovna, 1816-1817.

Artist: Y. Pineman (1779-1853)

© Stadsmuseum, Tilburg, The Netherlands, 2013

A new exhibition Willem II and Anna Pavlovna: Royal Splendour at the Dutch Court opened on September 26th at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

The exhibition is at the heart of the Year of the Netherlands and Russia. It deals with one of the most significant episodes in the relations of the two countries which had an impact on entire nineteenth-century European history - the marriage of Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna and Prince Willem of Orange, heir to the Crown (Netherlands and Luxembourg). The wedding arranged after a number of war victories and Willem's wounding at Waterloo was ceremoniously held half a year later at the Winter Palace.

Upon visiting St Petersburg and seeing Imperial collections, Willem also developed a passion for art collecting and assembled one of the best collections of paintings in Europe. Due to economic difficulties his family had to pawn it to Nicholas I and then sell it at auction to pay the debt. Nicholas I wanted to have the entire collection but had to take part in the auction on equal terms with others, through his special agents, and purchased thirteen pictures, most of which are displayed at the Hermitage permanent exhibitions. An irreplaceable loss for the museum was the sale of Jan van Eyck's picture from this collection in 1917.

The exhibition features more than 250 items, and has been produced by the State Hermitage in cooperation with the Dordrecht Stedelijk Museum, Dutch Royal Collection and Villa Vauban Museum (Luxembourg). Since the collection of Willem II was sold out after his death and dispersed all over the world, the exhibition has also been contributed by other large art museums and private collections.

The exhibition is on display in the Armorial Hall, Winter Palace (Room 195) until January 12, 2014. 

© State Hermitage Museum. 08 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 1:40 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 October 2013 1:53 PM EDT
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Monument to Nicholas II in Belarus
Topic: Nicholas II

The largest church in the Belarusian town of Kreisky was named in honour of St. Nicholas. Situated near the church is a bronze bust of Saint-Tsar Nicholas II, in gratitude to the Royal Martyrs for many years of heavenly assistance to Christian believers.

To this day there remain only two active churches in Kreisky. One of them was built in 1897 in honour of Alexei of Moscow, and the second in honour of St. Nicholas was built in 1874. The second, larger church, which is located in the centre of the agricultural town was closed for 70 years due to local communist views. But in 2000, the Church of St. Nicholas in Kreisky was returned to believers. The consecration of one of the chapels was carried out on July 19, 2009. 

The bust was installed thanks to the efforts of local parishioners and Rev. Fr. Sergei Podolsky, the church priest. The artist of the bust is the Russian sculptor, Vladimir Zelyanko. The establishment of the memorial bust in 2008 was timed to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the murder of the royal family in 1918. Under the sculpture is placed the following inscription: "The Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas II. This bust - our thanks to the Royal Martyrs for many years of heavenly assistance, from believers, Christians and Orthodox Kreisky our parish." 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 08 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:23 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 12 October 2013 7:41 AM EDT
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The Romanovs and the Russian People Forum in Ekaterinburg
Topic: Russian Church

On October 10, in the "Kosmos" cinema and concert theatre of the city of Ekaterinburg, the second public forum of Middle Urals "The Romanovs and the Russian people" will take place.

This event will complete a chain of all-Russia celebrations, being held in 2013 in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kostroma and Ekaterinburg, devoted to the 400th anniversary of the end of the “time of troubles" (1610-1613) and accession to the throne of the royal dynasty of Romanov, reports the website of the Diocese of Ekaterinburg.

Ekaterinburg became the site of martyrdom of the last Romanovs, which is why the organizers decided to hold the final event, dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the royal dynasty, in this very place.

Leading Russian specialists in state building, demography, interethnic relations, history, and philosophy will take part in the second forum, organized by the Diocese of Ekaterinburg, the governor’s administration, and the “World Russian People's Council”.

The distinguished guests include: Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotury, The governor of the Sverdlov Region Evgeny Kuivashev, chief federal inspector of the Sverdlov region Vladimir Shabanov, Metropolitan Theophan of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust, Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, Mufti of Ural Sibagatullah Hazrat Saydulin, co-chairman of the “World Russian People's Council” Vladimir Khomyakov, Prince Alexander Trubetskoy, test cosmonaut of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center and mayor of "Star city" Valery Tokarev, pilot-cosmonaut Viktor Plakida, Russian politician, statesman and scientist Sergey Baburin, writer Sergey Chekmaev, editor-in-chief of the portal Russkaya Narodnaya Liniya Anatoly Stepanov, Russian economist and professor of the Moscow State University Marat Musin.  

During the forum, the icon of Holy Royal Martyrs that was taken into near-earth orbit with the crew of the Russian Space Station will be given to the Diocese of Ekaterinburg. At the present time, the icon is in the Zvyozdny Gorodok ("Star city", situated in the Shchelkovo district of Moscow region), where Russian and foreign cosmonauts live and receive training.
© 08 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:16 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 8 October 2013 7:20 AM EDT
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Monday, 7 October 2013
Theft of Tsar Nicholas II's Gifts from Swiss Museum
Topic: Nicholas II

Pierre Gilliard with Grand Duchesses Olga and Tatiana at Livadia Palace in the Crimea
The jewellery given by Emperor Nicholas II to his children’s tutor Pierre Gilliard of Switzerland was stolen from a safe in the Cantonal and University Library of Lausanne four years ago, the Swiss newsagency 24heures has reported.

Though the theft took place in 2009, it became known only after Gilliard’s nephew paid a visit to Lausanne and asked to be shown the Russian emperor’s gifts – a gold cigarette case adorned with the emblem of the House of Romanov and four jewellery pieces for the tutor’s bride – Gilliard’s family had handed over to the library.

The nephew was told that the jewellery had disappeared under unclear circumstances. No one explained to him why he hadn’t been informed about the theft earlier. The local police authority confirmed that the library’s safe had been cracked open and emptied on the night of October 29, 2009. The library reported the incident to the local police authority. An inquiry was launched but nothing has been found so far.

Pierre Gilliard was employed as a French language tutor for Nicholas II’s daughters in 1905. In 1912, he became a tutor for his son and heir, Tsesarevich Alexei. He followed the family into internal exile at Tobolsk in 1917, however, the Bolsheviks prevented him from joining them when they were transferred to the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg in May 1918.
Gilliard remained in Siberia after the murders of the Imperial family, assisting White Russian investigator Nicholas Sokolov. In 1919, he married Alexandra Tegleva, a nurse to the Grand Duchess Anastasia. In 1920, he returned to Switzerland. In 1921, he wrote his classic memoirs, Thirteen Years at the Russian Court, which have since been translated into Russian.
In 1958, Gilliard was severely injured in an automobile accident at Lausanne. He never fully recovered from his injuries and died on May 30th, 1962.  
© Russkiy Mir and Royal Russia. 07 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:08 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 7 October 2013 8:33 AM EDT
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State Hermitage Museum Gets Official Namesake Hotel

Russia’s famous State Hermitage Museum has opened an official namesake hotel in St Petersburg. This is the first experiment of the kind in which a museum cooperates with hotel business executives, ITAR-TASS reports. “The designers of this project didn’t try to reflect the Hermitage here,” Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director General of the State Hermitage Museum said at the opening ceremony. “Some elements here reveal an obvious connection between the museum and the hotel but no attempts to copy anything are visible.”
Pitrovsky said that this five-star hotel is the only one in Russia and in the world that has received the official right to use the Hermitage Museum’s trademarks on the basis of a licensing agreement. The museum will not be receiving any commercial profits from the hotel but the two will rather launch joint programs. For instance, the customers staying at there will get “privileged rights” in the museum, Piotrovsky said. “We’ve set a very good precedent of a cultural institution and a business outlet working together.”
The hotel is located in a downtown building erected in the 1930’s. It housed a Food Industry Workers’ Club during the Soviet period. Complete overhaul was made inside the building with a due observance of all the requirements for protection of architectural monuments.
The inside décor of the hotel echoes the décor of half at the State Hermitage Museum. Many things there are styled to resemble the old times - the decorative furnishings on the panels, door handles, parquet, and so on. Engravings depicting the Hermitage Museums can be seen in the lounges. Films and videol clips depicting the museum’s collection are demonstrated on overhead screens. 
For more information on this hotel, including a video, please refer to the following article;

Fit for a Tsar: St Petersburg's Hermitage Museum to Open Luxury Hotel

© Russkiy Mir. 07 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:02 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 7 October 2013 8:38 AM EDT
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Ukraine Issues Postage Stamp Marking Romanov Anniversary
Topic: 400th Anniversary

The Ukraine has issued a special postage stamp in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. Ukrposhta, the national state enterprise of postal service of Ukraine, has released a special stamp depicting the portraits of the first Romanov ruler, Tsar Michael Feodorovich and the current Head of the Russian Imperial House, HIH Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.

Ukrposhta also released a set of envelopes which reflect the Romanov dynasty in the history of the Crimea. The envelope shows the Massandra and Livadia and palaces, as well as the Church of the Ascension of Christ at Foros, the beautiful memorial church built to commemorate the miraculous survival of Emperor Alexander III and his family after the rail disaster at Borki in 1888.

The ceremony marking the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty took place during a reception at the Livadia Palace on September 22nd, in which members and representatives of some 39 royal houses (both reigning and non-reigning) from around the world attended. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 07 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:42 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 7 October 2013 8:39 AM EDT
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Sunday, 6 October 2013
Russian Crimean War Victims Honoured in UK
Topic: Russian History

The obelisk was erected in 1877 at the behest of the Emperor of Russia, Alexander II 
The Ambassadors of both Russia and Finland were in Lewes, Sussex, England on Saturday for a moving ceremony.

They attended the re-dedication of the Russian-Finnish Memorial in the churchyard at St John sub Castro.

The Grade II Listed obelisk has been repaired and cleaned at a cost approaching £9,000 and paid for by the Russians and organisations based in the Åland Islands of Finland.

The church was packed as guests were welcomed by Acting Minister the Rev Richard Field, the Russian Ambassador, His Excellency Alexander Yakovenko, and the Finnish Ambassador, His Excellency Pekka Huhtaniemi.

The historical background to the memorial was given by Graham Robins, Curator of Åland Museum.

It is dedicated to the 28 Finnish (*The Grand Duchy of Finland existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian Emperor as Grand Duke) from soldiers who died as prisoners of war in Lewes during the Crimean War of 1854-56 and are buried in the churchyard. They were from the Åland Islands and serving in the Russian Army.

The 17ft (5.2m) high obelisk was erected in 1877 at the behest of the Emperor of Russia, Alexander II.

Andrew Goodwin, of Lewes-based Mackellar Schwerdt Architects, oversaw the permits for the memorial’s facelift and commissioned stonemason Jon Tilley, of TE Tilley Ltd, Brighton, to carry out repairs.

Saturday’s ceremony continued in the churchyard, with blessings and prayers by the Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings, the Venerable Philip Jones (in English), the Rev Teemu Hälli (in Finnish) and the Very Rev Vadim Zakrevsky (in Russian).

Wreaths were then laid by Mr Huhtaniemi and Colonel Simo Hautala, by Mr Yakovenko and Colonel Mikhail Klimuk, and by the Premier of the Åland Islands, Camilla Gunell.

Representing Lewes at the re-dedication were Mayor Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe and the Chair of Lewes District Council, Cllr Michael Chartier.

Some 340 members of the Fusilier Grenadiers defending the fortress of Bormasund in the Baltic Sea were captured by British and French forces in August 1854 and taken to Lewes. The men were confined in the old County Gaol, which stood in North Street. 
© Sussex Express and Royal Russia. 06 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 10:09 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 6 October 2013 10:18 AM EDT
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Friday, 4 October 2013
Forgotten Faberge Comes Out of the Attic
Topic: Faberge

The following article is condensed from the October 3rd, 2013 edition of The New York Times. The author Eve M. Kahn owns the copyright presented below.  

Russian royals loved to collect figurines of their subjects. The Fabergé workshops produced about 50 sculptures in semiprecious stones and gold representing peasants, servants and the occasional Gypsy singer and street sweeper.

Two of the works, with glittering eyes and thick gray beards, realistically portrayed Imperial Cossack bodyguards. A depiction of Dowager Empress Marie’s servant Alexei A. Kudinov remains at Pavlovsk Palace near St. Petersburg. A statuette of Empress Alexandra’s bodyguard, Nikolai N. Pustynnikov , was long thought lost.

It was actually sitting in an attic in Rhinebeck, N.Y. In the 1930s, a Fabergé collector had acquired it in Manhattan from the dealer and industrialist Armand Hammer. It re-emerged this summer, with original receipts, when a descendant’s estate was cleaned out. Stair Galleries in Hudson, N.Y., will auction it on Oct. 26. (It is estimated at $500,000 to $800,000.)

“This is really a major addition to the literature — it’s a historical discovery,” said Gerard Hill, a Fabergé specialist who researched it for Stair. Fabergé fakes have been proliferating lately, Mr. Hill added, but he is convinced that the forgotten Cossack is real.

“The expression in the face — nobody can do that these days,” he said.

Fabergé artisans carved sardonyx, nephrite and cacholong to capture Pustynnikov’s careworn forehead, creased boots and chest medals.

The figurine was part of mounds of Soviet booty that Hammer helped sell off to shore up the Communist regime with hard currency. According to “Selling Russia’s Treasures: The Soviet Trade in Nationalized Art, 1917-1938” (M. T. Abraham Center/Abbeville), a forthcoming book by nine Russian scholars, “Hammer effectively acted as the main intermediary in the efforts made by the Soviet government to ‘export the world revolution,’ a role which proved quite profitable.”

Objects that he imported, with czar provenance, have reappeared in the last few months. A two-inch metal cross brought $5,100 at a Skinner auction in Boston. An enameled icon painting of the Resurrection sold for $50,000 at Humler & Nolan in Cincinnati.

More Imperial possessions are going on view in the next year. The Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg is renovating a palace in St. Petersburg for his Fabergé collection. Another Russian billionaire, Alexander Ivanov, keeps adding to his Fabergé museum in Baden-Baden, Germany. In November, an exhibition at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, “The Romanovs: Legacy of an Empire Lost,” will contain some of Hammer’s wares.
© The New York Times. 04 October, 2013


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:40 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 20 December 2013 7:09 AM EST
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