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Monday, 21 July 2014
Gatchina: From the Imperial Age to Today
Topic: Gatchina

Gatchina Palace served as a favorite residence of Emperors Paul I and Alexander III
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 20th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Veronika Prokhorova, owns the copyright presented below.

Gatchina is one of the most beautiful and enigmatic suburbs of St. Petersburg. It was the favorite residence of Emperors Paul I and Alexander III. Gatchina is also considered the birthplace of the Russian military air force, and it is here that the Maltese Order met

Gatchina’s history dates back to the start of the eighteenth century, when Tsar Peter I decreed the construction of an estate that he gifted to his favorite sister, Natalia Alekseevna. After the death of the Tsar, the estate was repeatedly passed from one owner to another until it was acquired by Empress Catherine II -- she complained about the estate to her favorite count Grigory Orlov, who then commenced active construction at Gatchina. After the death of Count Orlov, Gatchina became the residence of Paul I, who lived there for 18 years and granted Gatchina city status and its own coat of arms. Later the city came under the ownership of Maria Feodorovna, then Nicholas I, Alexander I, Alexander II and Nicholas II.

Gatchina is known for its palace and park. The royal palace is like a secluded castle, rising over the peaceful waters. One of the oldest buildings of the park, established under the first owner of Gatchina, Grigory Orlov, is the Eagle Pavilion, allegedly sponsored by V. Brenna. The pavilion is a circular temple -- the rotunda is 9.5 meters tall. It features a semicircular colonnade of ten Tuscan columns with a semi-dome roof decorated with coffers and seashells. Its stairs consist of three steps leading to a stylobate made of pure ashlar stone. The colonnade is crowned with an eagle, carved out of white marble, holding a shield with Paul I’s monogram.

One of the most romantic spots in the Palace Park is the Humped Bridge, which spans the Long Island across the channel that links the Silver and White lakes. The Humped Bridge consists of three main parts -- two strong abutments and a steep arch span.

The main building of the ensemble is the Palace of Paul (or Gatchina Palace). It was originally built by the architect Rinaldi for Catherine’s favorite, Count Orlov. Rinaldi designed a magnificent castle on the hill in front of Silver Lake. The three-story main building is decorated at the sides with high pentahedral towers, while two galleries withdraw to auxiliary wings their own closed courtyards -- the Arsenal and Kitchen wings. A collection of Italian paintings, assembled by the estate’s owners, is located on the top floor of the palace. Later Gatchina was passed on to Paul I, who invited the architect Vincenzo Brenna to reconstruct the palace.

The Menagerie occupies a large territory in the northern region of the Park and was intended for the court’s hunting. Part of the Menagerie is called Miracle Glade. It is now a specially protected nature territory, where rare plants grow.

The main road of Gatchina is 25th of October Prospect, which begins immediately upon entrance of Gatchina, behind a circular square, which is followed by district buildings. A planned development district, Hohlovo Fields, stretched from this area to the Orlov groves. Until the October Revolution, ladies-in-waiting and other palace folk lived in this area. After World War II a sanatorium kindergarten was located here. There is also a cemetery of German soldiers and not far from the kindergarten were concentration camps, in which many Soviet prisoners of war were killed during the war. At the turn of the fifties and sixties construction began on a residential town for employees of the Leningrad Institute of Nuclear Physics. Later the streets of Hoholovo were taken over, the fragile houses with sheds were removed and brick houses were built in their place.

The Priory Palace, situated in the park at Gatchina was built during the reign of Emperor Paul I
Next go to Sobornaya Street, and if you walk towards the center, the majestic Cathedral of St. Paul, with its sky blue domes, will rise in front of you. A few years before World War II the congregation was dissolved and the church building was reconstructed under the Culture House with a cinema. During the war, church services were reinstated and were used to hide wounded officers of the Soviet army from the Germans.

The Gatchina “Arbat” begins behind the church. Previously a market was located in this area, but now there are stores, cafes, and restaurants, as well as a small shopping center nearby. A “Cloth Factory” building is also located in front of the former market square. It has had that name since Paul I situated skilled seamstresses, who made Prussian-model uniforms out of red and green cloth for his soldiers.

An old, stone, two-story building in an eclectic style is located on Krasnaya Street. Long corridors and identical doors can be found inside the building. Before and during the war, this was a prison. It is said that in Gatchina there were many prisons with solitary confinement, in which it was only possible to sit on one’s haunches, which was thus called “glass.” Old residents say that the Germans were equipped with this “convenience.”

The grand, dark-red brick St. Basil’s Cathedral can be found to the right of the market. The cathedral was consecrated in 1914, and soon after World War I began. The cathedral was left at such and not plastered. During Soviet times the cathedral housed a warehouse and only resumed service at the end of the eighties.

The Warsaw Station is also notable in Gatchina. In 2013 the 160th anniversary of the arrival of the first railroad in Gatchina was celebrated. The modern Warsaw Station is a post-war building built in the strict and sparse style in pale-yellow. Before the war, the building was adorned with colored bricks and consisted of a long hall with arched windows and doors; the covered platform adjoined the building via stalls.

Another attraction of Gatchina, built at the very end of the eighteenth century under the orders of Paul I, is the Priory Palace and its landscaped park, built on a swamp on the shore of the Black Lake. The palace is surprising because, with the exception of its tall tower and socle, it is made of pure sifted earth, moistened with solution, and closely packed into form. This unique technique was used by the architect N.A. Lvov.

The palace was intended to serve for only 20 years, but it has stood for three centuries, a feat that could well be listed in the Guinness Book of Records. It owes its name to the Maltese Order, of which Paul I was a patron. The palace was constructed as a residence for the Prior -- one of the chief dignitaries of the Order, a French émigré, Prince de Conde. Conde never came to Gatchina, and the castle was instead used by the Russian Maltese Order for meetings.

Many streets in Gatchina are named for Russian and Soviet pilots, which is not surprising, since Gatchina is renowned for housing the first Russian aviation school. In 1909, a region near Gatchina was designated for testing airplanes, and the first military airfield was established there. In autumn of the following year, training began in the Officer Aeronautical School, which at the start of World War I was reorganized as the Gatchina Higher Aviation School. Graduates of the school included the famous pilot Pyotr Nesterov, author of the “death loop” and the first air ram in battle, which resulted in his death. The first Russian female pilot, L.V Zvereva, also graduated from the Gatchina Higher Aviation School. In 2002, Gatchina opened the only museum of aviation engine history in Russia. 
© Veronika Prokhorova / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 21 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:26 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 21 July 2014 4:35 AM EDT
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The Legendary Journey of Peter the Great
Topic: Peter the Great

Peter the Great at Deptford Dockyard. Artist: Daniel Maclise, 1857
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the July 18th, 2014 edition of Russia Beyond the Headlines. The author Joe Crescente, owns the copyright presented below.

Peter the Great travelled to many different countries on his educational voyage in the last years of the 17th and elements of the European lifestyle: all of which went on to help shape modern Russia

Nicholas II was the first Russian Tsar to travel to the Far East and Siberia. However, the inspiration for educational trips for future heirs to the crown came from Peter the Great’s legendary European journey of 1697-1698.

Peter the Great was that rare autocrat that liked to lead by example. He viewed his trip to Europe as a journey of knowledge that would have the potential to positively impact the people.

From an early age Peter was fascinated by shipbuilding and sailing, and always had ambitions of making Russia a major maritime power. When Peter became the sole ruler of Russia in 1696, the Russian Empire had access to only one port, in the North Sea at Arkhangelsk. At the time the north Baltic Sea was controlled by Sweden, and the Black and Caspian Seas were commanded respectively by the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid dynasty, an early Persian state. After capturing the fortress of Azov from the Ottomans in July 1696, Peter was determined to gain further access to the Black Sea. But, he knew that at that moment Russia couldn’t take on the Ottoman Empire alone.

Thus, Peter came up with the idea of his Grand Embassy, a diplomatic mission with the goal of securing allied support against the Ottoman Empire. In particular this trip sought to strengthen the Holy League, a union of Christian empires that Pope Innocent XI had formed in 1684. Russia joined in 1686. Peter also sought to use this journey to acquire knowledge and technology and hire foreign specialists for service in Russia.

In 1697 Peter set off with a 250-person entourage on an 18-month journey. Officially the “Embassy” was headed by three of his closest advisers and Peter used a pseudonym throughout the trip, Pyotr Mikhailov, as he wished to be anonymous. Although Peter was the first Tsar to travel abroad, he was easily recognizable as he was more than two meters tall. Records from the time attest that few European leaders were fooled by the disguise.

The first leg of the trip was considered unsuccessful. He met with the heads of France and Austria. France was unwavering in its support for the Ottoman Sultan and the Austrian leader was mostly concerned with keeping things quiet to their east, so that they could pursue their objectives to the west. Europeans on the whole were largely uninterested in Peter’s ambitions.

From there, Peter moved on to the Netherlands, where he took on an apprenticeship as a shipbuilder in Zaandam (the house where he lived is now a museum: http:/ / For the Tsar, learning about naval technology was crucial to his objective of creating a truly modern navy, and Dutch sailing vessels were considered among the most advanced in the world at the time. The home where Peter stayed belonged to Gerrit Kist, a Dutch blacksmith that had worked for a stint in Moscow for the Tsar. Kist and the Tsar remained friends for life.

Peter’s visit to the Netherlands was the most influential of any country he visited. There, he acquired not just technical knowledge, but also learned about how Europeans lived. One notable technology that Peter discovered was the fire hose. This was especially important considering the prevalence of fires in 17th Moscow. He learned about the technology from its inventor, Jan van der Heyden. Afterwards he went to Amsterdam and with a little help from its mayor, Nicolaas Witsen (an expert on shipbuilding), Peter was able to put what he had learned in Zaandam to use by going to work at the largest shipbuilding yard in the world. He spent four months at the wharf, which was owned by the Dutch East India Company. In addition to acquiring vast maritime knowledge, Peter also set to work hiring skilled workers, sailors, and lock builders. But his biggest prize was probably luring Cornelis Cruys, a high-ranking official in the Dutch Navy, to come to Russia. There, he was appointed the vice-admiral for the Russian Navy and became the most influential adviser to the Tsar for maritime affairs for decades to come.

From Holland Peter moved on to England, where he met King William III and toured the cities of Oxford and Manchester, where he learned about city planning. He would put this knowledge to use several years later when he founded St. Petersburg. After England, Peter’s entourage collectively journeyed to the cities of Leipzig, Dresden, and Vienna, and met with August the Strong, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, and Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor and a frequent antagonist of the Ottoman Empire.

Peter was forced to return early to Russia in 1698, as the Streltsy—armed Russian guard units—had rebelled. The uprising was crushed before Peter made it back from England.

Peter was very impressionable during his “Embassy” and came back convinced that certain European customs were superior to Russian ones. Peter announced upon his return that nobles had to cut their beards (or pay a tax) and wear European clothing. The calendar was changed to better align with the European one. The rest of Peter’s reign until his death in 1725 was marked by several victories over Sweden, which led to Russia’s status as the supreme power in northeastern Europe. While Russian troops engaged Ottoman forces on several occasions, no significant settlements were made. St. Petersburg was founded in 1703 and the country began to look west.

One of the first things that Peter did upon his return was to divorce his wife, Eudoxia Lopukhina. For Peter the Great it really was out with the “old” and in with the “new” after this life-changing journey. 
© Joe Crescente / Russia Beyond the Headlines. 21 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:13 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 21 July 2014 4:19 AM EDT
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Saturday, 19 July 2014
A Russian Moment No 41 - The Yelagin Palace, St. Petersburg
Topic: A Russian Moment

The Yelagin Palace was built during the reign of Alexander I for his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Paul I)
This charming summer palace located on one of the islands in the north-west of St. Petersburg was commissioned in 1818 by Emperor Alexander I from the young architect, Carlo Rossi, who would go on to become the undisputed master of neo-classicism in the city. 

The land and the original palace had been bought for the Imperial Estates from the heirs of Ivan Yelagin, a historian, poet, and statesman in the reign of Catherine the Great. Alexander chose it as the site of a summer residence for his mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Emperor Paul I), who found the journey between the city and her permanent home at Pavlovsk too wearisome. Rossi was responsible not only for the design of the palace building, but also for the stables and kitchen building, the pavilion with a granite pier, the guardhouse, the music pavilion and for much of the interior decoration of the palace, which feature richly painted marble walls and intricately inlaid wooden doors. The palace was completed in 1826.

Sadly, the palace served as the summer residence of Maria Feodorovna for only two years. After Maria Feodorovna's death in 1828, the Yelagin Palace became the summer residence of her younger son, Nicholas Pavlovich (Emperor Nicholas I). The palace then remained deserted for long periods of time. Emperor Nicholas II leased it to his prime ministers such as Sergei Witte, Pyotr Stolypin, and Ivan Goremykin. 

After the Revolution, the palace was briefly turned into a museum by the Bolshevik government. The palace was badly damaged during the Siege of Leningrad, but fully restored in the 1950s based on photographs and the original blueprints and used as a resort for workers. Since 1987, the Yelagin Palace has been home to the Museum of Decorative and Applied Art and Interiors from the 18th-20th Centuries. Exhibitions are hosted on the second floor of the building, while the ground floor is devoted to Rossi's restored interiors. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:31 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 19 July 2014 8:39 AM EDT
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Anna Vyrubova's House at Tsarskoye Selo Hosts Rare Exhibition
Topic: Vyrubova, Anna

A rare one day exhibition opened last week in the former home of Anna Vyrubova at Tsarskoye Selo. The Anna Vyrubova - A History in Photographs opened on July 17th at Vyrubova’s home which is situated at No. 4 Ulitsa Srednya, near both the Catherine and Alexander Palace’s. 

The exhibition is a joint venture prepared by the Department of Culture, the Pushkin District Administration of St. Petersburg, the St. Petersburg SBD Chamber Choir, and the Yale University Library in New York City (USA).

Anna Vyrubova (1884-1964), was a lady-in-waiting, friend and confidante of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Vyrubova purchased the house in 1907 and lived there up until 1917. It consisted of a dining room, a drawing room with an upright piano on which she played duets with the empress, and three bedrooms on the first floor. A telephone was installed in the Drawing Room with a direct line to the Alexander Palace nearby. 

It was here at “Anna’s little cottage” that she received and entertained Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, their children, as well as Grigorii Rasputin. 

Vyrubova  describes her little abode in her memoirs, Memories of the Russian Court, published in 1923: 

“. . . my little house in Tsarskoye Selo, its modest furnishings beautified by many gifts from the Empress. Among these gifts were some charming pictures and six exquisitely embroidered antique chairs. A silver-laden tea table helped to make the salon cozy, and I have many happy memories of intimate teas to which the Empress sent fruit and the Emperor the cherry brandy which he especially affected.

The little house, however, was far from being the luxurious palace in which I have often been pictured of living. As a matter of fact, it was frightfully cold in winter because the house had no stone foundation  but rested on the frozen earth. Sometimes when the Emperor and Empress came to tea we sat with our feet on the sofa to keep warm. Once the Emperor jokingly told me that after a visit to my house he kept himself from freezing only by going directly to a hot bath.”

Anna Vyrubova’s former home as it looks today. It is situated at No. 4 Ulitsa Srednya, near both the Catherine and Alexander Palace’s.
Every day hundreds of visitors to Tsarskoye Selo walk past it not realizing the history behind the famous house with a Romanov legacy.
A former owner of Vyrubova’s house was Tepper de Ferguson (1768-1838), a composer and music teacher from the Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum. In the early 1800s, he taught music to Grand Duchesses Helena, Maria, Ekaterina, and Anna, the younger sisters of the Emperor Alexander I. In 1811-1812, he gave music lessons to Elizabeth Alexeievna (Louise of Baden), the Consort of Alexander I. Other notable guests included a young Alexander Pushkin, who along with his schoolmates attended musical evening parties at de Ferguson’s home.

Anna Vyrubova was an avid photographer, a hobby she shared with all the members of the last Russian Imperial family. She escaped to Finland in 1920, taking with her six Romanov family photo albums, containing hundreds of pictures taken between 1907 and 1915. The albums are indeed a truly remarkable survival. Today, they are held at the Beinecke Library, Yale University in the United States. 

In recent years, the tiny lemon-yellow house on Ulitsa Srednya in Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) served as a wedding palace where the locals came to marry. Occasionally it hosts concerts, however, this is the first exhibition to my knowledge to be held in Anna Vyrubova’s former residence. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 19 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:02 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014 10:06 AM EDT
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Friday, 18 July 2014
Communists Lay Flowers at the Grave of the Murderer of Russia's Imperial Family
Topic: Bolsheviks

On July 16th Sverdlovsk communists laid flowers at the grave of the killer of the Romanov family, the revolutionary Peter Ermakov. The ceremony was headed by Alexander Ivachev, leader of the local Communist Party Branch.

Peter Ermakov, born at Ekaterinburg in 1884 was a Bolshevik commissar, notable as having been among those responsible for the murders of Tsar Nicholas II, his immediate family, and their retinue. In 1935, Ermakov gave an interview to the American journalist Richard Halliburton, describing the burning and destruction of the bodies of the Imperial family and their servants. He died in 1952 at the age of 70.

Ivachev issued the following statement the day before: "Tomorrow, July 16th, the Sverdlovsk Komsomol will lay flowers at the grave of the revolutionary Peter Ermakov enforcing the decision of the Ural Regional Council for the execution of Nicholas II and his family. The event is dedicated to the beginning of the Tsar's Days,"- said the head of the Sverdlovsk branch of the Communist Party.

He also confirmed that several days ago, the monument was doused with red paint, the second time since the 90s and that the Communists intend to clean it up and lay flowers. Local monarchists are blamed for dousing Ermakov’s grave. The red paint being symbolic of the blood this evil man spilled and his involvement with one of the most heinous crimes in 20th century Russian history. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:55 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 18 July 2014 5:00 PM EDT
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Saints Martha and Mary Convent in Moscow Celebrate the Feast-Day of its Foundress
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD
Today, July 18th is the feast-day of the Holy New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth (Romanova) and Nun Barbara (Yakovleva). The 96th anniversary of their martyrdom is celebrated this year. 

On this day, the SS. Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy in Moscow opened their doors, inviting all who wish to come to take part in the festive events, dedicated to commemoration of the Holy Grand Duchess. 

As Lyubov Petrovna Miller writes in her book, “Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna is among those saints of whom it can be said that their holiness is self-evident and indisputable. St. Elizabeth’s holiness is confirmed by her ascetic life, her martyrdom during which she prayed for her murderers, and, finally, by the fragrance exuding from her holy relics.”

Highlights of the Festival Program included: 

09:00 a.m. - Divine Liturgy begins in the Holy Protection Church of the Convent
11:30 a.m. - All the Convent’s guests of the Feast will be offered refreshments in the Convent garden
12:30 p.m. - Concert of the St. John Damascene Children’s and Youth Choir in the Holy Protection Church
  2:00 p.m. -  Tea in the Convent garden. A big surprise awaits the children. Tours of the Convent and Grand Duchess Elizabeth’s house will be organized for all who wish. 
  3:30 p.m. - String Quartet concert in the Convent garden pavilion with performers from the Bolshoy Theater “Bohemia” and the winner of international competitions Olga Philatova (soprano), and also the brass quintet of the P.I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory. There will be selections by both Russian composers and composers from abroad for string and wind instruments. 

12:00-5:00 Convent garden: Games, competitions, and master-classes for the children. 

The SS. Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy is situated at 34 Bol’shaya Ordynka Street, Moscow. 
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 18 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:50 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 18 July 2014 5:12 PM EDT
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Holy Royal Martyrs Commemorated in Ekaterinburg on Their Feast-Day
Topic: Holy Royal Martyrs

The night of July 16/17 is a tragic date in the history of Russia. On this day in Ekaterinburg, the Russian Tsar Nicolas II, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, their children as well as their faithful servants were brutally murdered. The Church “on the Blood” in honour of All Saints who have Shone Forth in the Russian Land, has now been built on the site of the crime. And the tragic night annually gathers thousands of pilgrims to this site from all over Russia and other countries for prayer, reports the News Agency of the Ekaterinburg Diocese.

The tradition of commemorating the martyred Royal Family began long before their canonization as Royal Martyrs. In 1992, Archbishop Melchisedek (Lebedev) of Sverdlovsk and Kurgan first gave a blessing to celebrate a service here and hold a procession of the Cross to the site of the destruction of their holy relics at Ganina Yama (“Ganya’s Pit”). 

On these days of the Royal Martyrs, in spite of the torrential rain (the first such in 22 years) tens of thousands of Ekaterinburg residents, pilgrims from all the corners of Russia and from abroad gathered to honour the Holy Passion-Bearers. 

Celebration of Small Vespers, Vigil service and Divine Liturgy on the night of the martyrdom of the Royal Family on the porch of the Church on the Blood was headed by permanent member of the Holy Synod Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, Metropolitan Nikon of Ufa and Sterlitamak, Metropolitan Kirill of Ekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, Bishop Markell of Beltsy and Falesti, Bishop Nikodim of Edinet and Briceni, Bishop Innocent of Nizhny Tagil and Serov, Bishop Nicolas of Salavat and Kumertau, Bishop Ambrose of Neftekamsk and Birsk, Bishop Methodius of Kamensk-Uralsky and Alapayevsk with several hundred priests and deacons concelebrating. 

Before the Divine Liturgy Metropolitan Kirill addressed the sea of people gathered in front of the Church on the Blood with his archpastor’s speech on the Holy Royal Martyrs, especially stressing the deep connection between the podvig (feat/ascetic struggle) of St. Sergius of Radonezh (the Church celebrates the 700th anniversary of his birth in 2014) and the feat of the Holy Royal Martyrs. 

During the singing of troparia at the Little Entrance “Eternal memory” was proclaimed to the Royal Passion-Bearers’ servants, martyred together with them on July 17, 1918. 

After the Litany of Fervent Supplication a prayer for peace in the Ukraine was offered up. 

At the Litany of the Departed special prayers were offered up for His Beatitude the newly-reposed Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) of Kiev and All the Ukraine; the servants of the Royal Family, who remained faithful to them even to the death; the victims of the Moscow underground railway (subway/Metro) accident; and those slain in the fratricidal war in the Ukraine. 

Because of the extremely large number of communicants the clergy of the Ekaterinburg Diocese gave Holy Communion from 100 chalices.

Soyuz (Union) TV channel carried live coverage of the service to 127 countries of the world. 

After the Liturgy the traditional 21-kilometre-long night procession of the Cross from the Church on the Blood to the Monastery of the Holy Royal Martyrs was held, following the way by which the slain martyrs were brought in 1918. 

Today, on the feast-day of the Holy Royal Martyrs, services are being celebrated non-stop at both the church and the monastery. And tomorrow, on July 18, services will be celebrated in Alapayevsk, where the New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova and Nun Barbara were martyred. 
© 18 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:19 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 18 July 2014 5:27 PM EDT
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Thursday, 17 July 2014
In Memory of the Holy Royal Martyrs - 17 July, 1918

Today marks the 96th anniversary of the murders of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. 
The Tsar, along with his wife, Alexandra Feodorovna, their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, and their only son and heir to the Russian throne, Alexei, and all those who chose to accompany them into exile – notably their four faithful retainers: Dr. Eugene Botkin, Anna Demidova, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Kharitonov were murdered in the basement of the Ipatiev House in the early morning hours of July 17th, 1918. There were no survivors.
The following day (July 18th) at Alapaevsk, more Romanov blood was spilled by the thugs and criminals of the new Bolshevik regime. Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, the Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich; Princes Ioann Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich and Vladimir Pavlovich Paley; Grand Duke Sergei's secretary, Feodor Remez; and Varvara Yakovleva, a sister from the Grand Duchess's convent, met a brutal death here being thrown down a mineshaft by their captors.
Their murders were followed by the Red Terror unleashed by Vladimir Lenin and later by his successor, Joseph Stalin. For more than 70 years Russia would suffer under the hands of an evil regime, one that resulted in the murder of millions of innocent people, and the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church.
From 1917-1991, the Soviet state was committed to the destruction of religion. They set about desecrating and destroying churches, ridiculed, harassed and massacred large numbers of clergy and believers. They proceeded to flood the schools and media with atheistic teachings, and generally promoted atheism as the truth that society should accept. The total number of Christian victims of Soviet state atheist policies, is estimated to be in the millions.
Since 1991, the world has witnessed the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism, the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia, the canonization of the last tsar and his family, plus the judicial rehabilitation of Tsar Nicholas II and his immediate family, new churches and memorials honour their memory. Indeed, the Bolsheviks have been brought down.
The family of Nicholas II was canonized on 1 November 1981 as new martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. They were canonized along with their servants, who had been killed along with them. All were canonized as victims of oppression by the Bolsheviks. The Russian Orthodox Church did not canonize the servants, two of whom were not Russian Orthodox: Alexei Trupp was Roman Catholic and Catherine Adolphovna Schneider was Lutheran.

Alexandra's sister, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna, was canonized on 1 November 1981 as New-Martyr Elizabeth by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, along with Prince Ioann Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Igor Konstantinovich of Russia, Prince Konstantine Konstantinovich of Russia, Grand Duke Sergey Mikhaylovich of Russia, and Prince Vladimir Pavlovich Paley, and Elizabeth's faithful companion, Sister Varvara Yakovleva, who were all killed with her. Fyodor Remez, Grand Duke Sergei's personal secretary, who was killed as well, was not canonized. They are known as the Martyrs of Alapaevsk.

In 1992, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna and Varvara Yakovleva were canonized as New-Martyr Elizabeth and New-Martyr Barbara by the Moscow Patriarchate (the Orthodox Church inside Russia). The grand dukes and others killed with them were not canonized.

On 20 August 2000, after much debate, the family of Nicholas II was canonized as passion bearers by the Moscow Patriarchate.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 17 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:17 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 July 2014 5:18 AM EDT
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Nationalists Seek to Change Russian Flag to Tsarist Imperial Standard
Topic: Imperial Russia

Since the 1990s this flag is used by monarchists and some extreme right political groups
A lawmaker from the populist nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) has prepared a motion to change Russia’s current white, blue and red state flag to the black, yellow and white flag adopted by Russian emperors in the late 19th century.

MP Mikhail Degtyaryov has said in a press interview that the imperial flag was much more appropriate for the important events taking place in Russia. These landmark occasions include Crimea’s accession into the Russian Federation, the start of the Russia-led economic bloc the Customs Union, and the rise of patriotism in general, he said.

A similar “victorious epoch of Russian history” was the period of the Russian Empire, Izvestia daily quoted the MP as saying.

In the explanations to the draft, Degtyaryov also wrote that when the Russian state was using the black, yellow and white flag its territory increased greatly and included Alaska, the Caucasus, Crimea, Eastern Prussia, Poland, the Baltics, Central Asian states and Finland.

“We were achieving brilliant victories when we used the imperial flag and today it is still capable of uniting all Russian citizens. The modern tri-color, returned by Boris Yeltsin in a rush, has never been discussed with the people, no research has been made. In early 1990s all decisions in our country were dictated by US advisers… We need people to think more about the flag that is flying over Russia. We must return the state flag that matches the resurrecting glory of our nation,” Degtyaryov told the newspaper.

He estimated the price of the nationwide transition to the new flag at 15.5 million rubles (about US$443 000).

Most Russian historians claim that the current white, blue and red flag was first introduced by Peter the Great in the late 17th century. The Tsar supposedly borrowed the design from the Netherlands, where he studied shipbuilding and other modern trades of his era.

The black, yellow and white flag was approved as a national symbol by Emperor Alexander II in 1858 and remained as such till 1896. According to the official explanation the flag borrowed the colors from the imperial coat of arms – the Byzantium eagle was black, the Byzantium banner was gold, and the horse of St George, also pictured on the Moscow city emblem, was white. However, the black, yellow and white scheme was also used by German Kaiser of the same period and back then Russia allied with Prussia and other German states.

Various combination of the imperial standard and the white-blue-red tricolor were used between the 1896 and 1917.

Modern Russia approved the white, blue and red tricolor in 1991. It was the flag used by supporters of Boris Yeltsin during the 1991 coup attempt and was modeled on the flag of the Russian Republic – the state that existed between the Tsar’s abdication in February 1917 and the October Revolution. The official explanation of the tricolor colors was the claim that it symbolizes the principles of Russian statehood.

However the fringe nationalists opposing Yeltsin and his pro-Western policies continued to use the imperial standard, claiming that it was the only ‘true Russian’ flag. It was flown regularly at the ‘Russian March’ rallies and other similar events and is still used by some radical groups. Representatives of these movements have not so far commented on Degtyaryov’s plan.

However, the draft drew comment from the founder of Russia’s Monarchist Party. Anton Bakovtold the URA news agency that such suggestions were discrediting the very idea of monarchy.

“How can Russia use the Romanov dynasty flag before the descendants of the emperors return to their homeland? The Tsars got the Kremlin stolen from them, and the Hermitage Palace. Now the LDPR deputy wants to steal their flag,” Bakov told reporters.

MP Vyacheslav Lysakov of the parliamentary majority United Russia party told Izvestia that the change of state flag in Russia was not very likely.

“We have a state flag already, there is nothing controversial about it. We have had such suggestions before, they never ended in anything but empty words,” Lysakov said. 
© Russia Today. 17 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 4:00 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 July 2014 5:04 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014
In Memoriam: Orthodox Artist Pavel Ryzhenko (1970-2014)
Topic: Russian Art

Pavel Viktorovich Ryzhenko 1970-2014
It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Pavel Ryzhenko. The famed Orthodox artist died today at the age of 44, the cause of death was a stroke. Pavel Ryzhenko was a particular favourite of mine, and it was during my visit to Ekaterinburg in 2012 where I saw an exhibition of his paintings on display at the Patriarchal Compound of the Church on the Blood.

Pavel Ryzhenko created many large-scale paintings dedicated to scenes from Imperial Russian history, including the Battle of Kulikovo, Sergius of Radonezh, Russian Orthodox saints, and the era of the Royal-Passion-bearer Nicholas II. Large-scale exhibits of his works have been showcased in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kostroma, Ekaterinburg among other Russian cities. 

A memorial service for Pavel Ryzhenko will be held on Sunday, July 22 at 12:00 in the Church of All Saints in the village of Krasnoselsky District, Moscow. The funeral will be held on the same day in Kaluga, followed by his burial at the Zhdamirovskom Cemetery, in the village of Zhdamirovo.

Pavel Ryzhenko was born at Kaluga, Russia in 1970. In 1982 he entered the Moscow Art School at the Surikov Institute. In 1990 he entered the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied in the historical and religious workshop of Professor Ilya Glazunov. From 1999, he taught at the Russian Academy of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. In 2007, Paul began working at the Ryzhenko Military Artists Studio, where he became one of the leading masters of diorama-panoramic art (during his life, he painted six large-scale dioramas). In 2012 Ryzhenko was awarded the title "Honored Artist of the Russian Federation."

Pavel Ryzhenko’s death is a tremendous loss to Russia’s artistic and spiritual communities. On behalf of Royal Russia and it’s supporters, I offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends and the people of Russia. Below are five popular works depicting Emperor Nicholas II by Pavel Ryzhenko:

Farewell to the Escort - No. 1 of the Imperial Golgotha triptych

Imprisonment in the Alexander Palace - No. 2 of the Imperial Golgotha triptych

The Ipatiev House Aftermath - No. 3 of the Imperial Golgotha triptych

Photo for Memory - No. 2 of the Russian Century triptych

Sovereign at the Hospital

© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 16 July, 2014


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 12:28 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 15 May 2017 2:13 PM EDT
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