A Russian Moment No. 4 - Ganina Yama Topic: A Russian Moment
A frosty, snow-covered evening envelopes Ganina Yama
Ganina Yama was a 9 foot pit in the Four Brother's Mine near the village of Koptyaki (about 15 km north of Ekaterinburg). In the early morning hours of July 17th 1918, the bodies of Tsar Nicholas II, his family and faithful retainers were secretly transported to Ganina Yama and thrown into the pit. Desperate to conceal their crime, the Bolsheviks later returned, retrieved the bodies from the pit and buried them in two unmarked graves at the Porosenskov Ravine, situated about 2.8 km from Ganina Yama.
A lone pilgrim approaches a wooden causeway built around the abandoned mine pit. The site has become a popular spot for Orthodox Christians and monarchists, who come here to pray and reflect on the Tsar Martyrs.
Ankvab Receives Order of Holy Martyr Tsar Nicholas Topic: Russian Church
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.
Feodorovsky Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo - Then and Now Topic: Tsarskoye Selo
The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral as it looked in 1977
My first visit to the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral at Tsarskoye Selo was in the early 1990s. I recall vividly the sadness that I felt in my heart upon seeing the state of the building for the first time. Decades of neglect at the hands of the local Soviet had left this historic and holy site in near ruin.
During the Soviet years the Cathedral was desecrated and pillaged before it was finally closed in 1933.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 the Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. It was consecrated again on February 29th, 1992. Restoration of the Cathedral lasted nearly 20 years, and once again, the Cathedral is the crown jewel of Tsarskoye Selo. Celebrations marking its 100th anniversary were held in September of last year.
Due to its history and association with the last Russian Imperial family, regular services are held in memory of Nicholas II and his family, all of whom were murdered at Ekaterinburg on July 17th, 1918.
It is one of the most beautiful churches in all of Russia and one that I highly recommend to visit and worship in.
The Feodorovsky Sovereign Cathedral as it looks today
Vintage Photo of Nicholas II No. 12 Topic: Nicholas II
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.
Russian Publishing Firm Issues New Editions of Coronation Albums Topic: Books
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.
Holy Russia - Celebrates the Festival of Christmas Now Playing: Language: NA. Duration: 58 minutes, 54 seconds Topic: Russian Church
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.