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Friday, 18 July 2014
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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Wednesday, 25 June 2014
A Crown, But Not On This Earth
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD


Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr
 
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 24th, 2014 edition of The American Conservative. The author Rod Dreher, owns the copyright of the  version presented below.

Look at that face. It belongs to St. Elizabeth the New Martyr. She was a Romanov Grand Duchess, German-born and the sister of Tsarina Alexandra, as well as married to Grand Duke Serge, an uncle of the Tsar. Excerpt:

Grand Duke Serge was killed by an assassin’s bomb on February 4, 1905, just as St Elizabeth was leaving for her workshops. She visited her husband’s killer in prison and urged him to repent, giving him an icon. She eventually built a shrine over the site of her husband’s martyrdom (which was said to have been destroyed by Vladimir Lenin himself in 1917).

After her husband’s murder, she began to withdraw from her former social life. She founded the Convent of Sts. Martha and Mary in Moscow, a community of nuns which focused on worshiping God and helping the poor. She sold all her fine clothes and jewels, and moved out of her palace into the buildings that she had purchased on behalf of the convent.

St. Elizabeth and her sisters continued to visit the poor and hungry in Moscow. During the First World War, she nursed sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals and on the battle front. She was respected and admired throughout Russia and people came to her for spiritual direction.

After her brother-in-law, Tsar Nicholas II, abdicated the throne and he and his family were placed under house arrest, St. Elizabeth was urged to abandon her convent and seek shelter with her remaining family in Western Europe. She refused all offers of help, saying she would not leave the other sisters and would die in Russia if that was His Will.

On Pascha 1918, Soviet soldiers came to the convent and ordered her to leave Moscow to join the royal family near Ekaterinburg. She was allowed to leave with a novice, Sister Barbara, but was not permitted to say goodbye to the other sisters.

After arriving in Ekaterinburg, St. Elizabeth was denied access to the Tsar’s family. She and Sister Barbara were placed in a convent, where she was warmly received by the sisters.

At the end of May St. Elizabeth and St. Barbara were moved to the nearby village of Alopaevsk with the Grand Dukes Sergius, John, and Constantine, and the young Count Vladimir Paley. They were all housed in a schoolhouse on the edge of town. St. Elizabeth was placed under guard, but was permitted to go to church and work in the garden.

On the night of July 5, they were all taken to a place in the woods, twelve miles from Alopaevsk, and executed. Grand Duke Sergius was shot, but the others were thrown down a mineshaft, with grenades being tossed in after them. St. Elizabeth lived for several hours, and could be heard singing hymns by local villagers who came up to the mineshaft after the murderers had left.

That face. Those eyes. 
 
© Rod Dreher / The American Conservative. 25 June, 2014
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 7:52 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 10 July 2014 8:23 AM EDT
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Monday, 27 January 2014
Extracts from Letters of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna to Emperor Nicholas II
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD

 
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Emperor Nicholas II
 
There survive some 100 letters and cards written by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth to Nicholas II. They were all written in English, although the Grand Duchess sometimes uses expressions in Russian, French or German. In the extracts selected below, originally published in the Russian journal Istochnik No 4, 1994, all Russian words have been translated into English and here appear in italics. Expressions in other languages are translated in brackets after them.
 
To read the letters, please refer to the following link;     

Extracts from Letters of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna to Emperor Nicholas II 

© Orthodox England. 27 January, 2014


 


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:57 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 27 January 2014 7:03 PM EST
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Monday, 5 August 2013
The Convent of St. Mary Magdelene, Jerusalem
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD


The Church of Saint Mary Magdalene is situated on the slope of the Mount of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane and is one of the most easily recognizable landmarks of Jerusalem. This striking example of Russian architecture was built in the Muscovite style with golden onion domes or cupolas.
 
It was built as a memorial to Empress Maria Alexandrovna (left) by her son the Russian Czar Alexander III and his brothers. Grand-Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, brother of Alexander III, and his wife Grand-Duchess Elizabeth (Princess Elizabeth of Hesse-Darmstadt), grand-daughter of Queen Victoria and sister of the last Empress of Russia, presided at the consecration of the church of Saint Mary Magdalene in 1888 as representatives of the Emperor.
 
The Grand-Duchess took a deep personal interest in the church and commissioned the well-known Russian artist Sergei Ivanov (1864-1910) to paint the large imposing murals depicting the life of Saint Mary Magdalene which were brought to Jerusalem for the consecration and hang in the church today.

The large canvas above the iconostasis shows Mary Magdalene before the Roman Emperor Tiberius. In her hand she holds a red egg which she presents to the Emperor, symbolizing the resurrection and eternal life. She tells Tiberius about the unjust judgment and death on the cross of Jesus Christ. It is known that after re-examining this unlawful trial Pilate, at that time governor of Jerusalem, was deposed and sent into exile. The elegant white marble and bronze iconostasis holds icons by the distinguished Russian artist, Vereshchaguin.

On the right side of the iconostasis in a specially carved wooden icon-case is the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God ‘HODIGITRIA’. This icon comes from Lebanon. Records of its miracles date back to the 16th century when it miraculously survived a fire that consumed the church. Later it healed many people during a cholera epidemic.

In this century, the metropolitan of Lebanon had repeated dreams telling him to give the icon of the Hodigitria to Abbess Mary in Palestine. After some inquiries he found Abbess Mary at the Russian Orthodox Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane, and this is how the icon came to be in the Church. To this day believers receive miraculous help from the Mother of God after praying before Her holy icon.  
 
Grand-Duchess Elizabeth, widowed by an assassin’s attack on her husband in 1905, became a nun and founded a convent devoted to nursing and charitable work in Moscow. After the revolution, in 1918, the Grand-Duchess together with her companion Sister Barbara and several members of the Russian Imperial Family were thrown into a mine shaft by the Bolsheviks and left to die. Her remains and those of Sister Barbara eventually were brought to Jerusalem. In 1920, they were laid to rest, as the Grand-Duchess wished, in a crypt below the Saint Mary Magdalene Church. They were canonized as Martyr Saints in 1981 and at this time their relics were moved into the main section of the church where they rest today in marble sarcophagi.   
 
Princess Andrew of Greece (Princess Alice of Battenberg), mother of the Duke of Edinburgh visited the church and stayed in the monastery in the 1930s. Her wish was to be buried near her Aunt ‘Ella’, the Grand-Duchess Elizabeth whose devotion to the church and to nursing and charitable service she strove to emulate. Princess Andrew died at Buckingham Palace in 1969. Her wish to be buried at the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane was finally realized in 1988 when her remains were transferred to her final resting place in a crypt below the church.
 
The church stands in the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus spent His last night on earth. Also found on the convent grounds are the remnants of a pre-Roman road, the biblical entry to Jerusalem. Not far from this road is a large stone on to which the Mother of God dropped her cincture to Apostle Thomas on the third day following her Dormition.

There are many caves in the Garden of Gethsemane which the Church tells us were used by Christ and his Disciples for prayer. One large cave in the grounds of the convent is used as a chapel, where the sisters meet to read their evening prayer rule.

Today, the church is the place of daily worship for the women’s convent of St. Mary Magdalene, under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. The sisterhood was established in 1936 by Mother Mary (Robinson), an English convert to Orthodoxy. The convent is a thriving community of 30 nuns from all over the world: Russians, Americans, Australians, Arabs, Serbs and Romanians.
 
The sisters are multi-talented: some paint icons, others embroider vestments and items for liturgical use. Hand-painted Russian eggs from Gethsemane are famous around the world as are the sisters’ prayer ropes, bookmarks, and other hand crafts. They also make incense for use in the church and for private prayer. All these items are available at the monastery kiosk.
 
These are perilous times for historical landmarks throughout the world. Each year our precious monuments of ‘living history’ fall victim to deterioration and decline, often due to lack of funds to maintain and repair them.

The Holy Land is no exception. The church is in a bad state of deterioration and ‘The Gethsemane Restoration Project’ was launched in 1994. Our goal is to repair and restore this famous landmark to its former magnificence. We ask for your help to achieve our aim. 
 

© Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem. 05 August, 2013
 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:06 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 5 August 2013 8:28 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 23 July 2013
A Sacrificing Love: New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD


Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (right) with her sister, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna at the Alexander Palace 
 
The Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (nee Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Louise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine) was born on October 20, 1861, the daughter of Princess Alice of Hesse and the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England, under whose strict tutelage she received both an extensive and a practical education. Her mother died when she was still young, the first tragedy in a life marked by inner suffering. But through greatness of spirit, her sorrow at the absence of maternal love was later transformed into a tender and solicitous compassion for others who lacked this love.
 
Please click on the link below to read an eloquent tribute to the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna by the late Metropolitan Anastassy.
 
A SACRIFICING LOVE: NEW MARTYR GRAND DUCHESS ELIZABETH

 © Orthodox America. 23 July, 2013

 

 

Posted by Paul Gilbert at 9:22 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 9:45 AM EDT
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Thursday, 18 July 2013
Festival in Honour of Grand Duchess Elizabeth in Moscow
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD

The open-air festival will be held on July 18 in Sts. Martha and Mary Convent in commemoration of the 95th anniversary of the martyrdom of Grand Duchess Elizaveta (Elizabeth) Feodorovna Romanova, reports Miloserdie.ru.

A concert with the participation of singers from the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera center and the "Vek" ("Century") Children's hareographic school will take place on the stage near the Church of Protection. The festival's visitors will have free refreshments and a tea party.

In the Convent's garden, graduates of St. Dimitry's School for Sisters of Mercy will teach all those who wish how to give first medical aid. The sisters of mercy will give a master class on bandaging, show how to stop bleeding, and explain how to help someone in case of a heart attack. The guests will try their hands at special mannequins. Theme games and souvenirs are being prepared for the youngest guests of the festival.

The excursions will be held the whole day in the Protection Church of the Convent and in the house-museum of Duchess Elizabeth, where unique exhibits are collected: items of everyday life and writing, photographs of Grand Duchess Elizabth.

Before the festival begins, a prayer service and Divine Liturgy will be celebrated; the Liturgy will be headed by Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevo, head of the Synodal Department for Church charity and social ministry.

Sts. Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy was founded by Grand Duchess Elizabeth in 1907 after the tragic death of her husband, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov from the hands of a terrorist. The poor and orphans, the disabled and elderly were those whom the sisters of the convent tirelessly took care of.

Today, 25 sisters living in the Convent are continuing this service. They visit old lonely people and the disabled at their homes. Various projects of the Orthodox aid service called "Miloserdie" ("Mercy") are working at the Sts. Martha and Mary Convent: children with severe forms of cerebral spastic infantile paralysis have rehabilitation here and a children's visiting palliative service works as well. Gravely sick people with neurogenetic diseases, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, are also given support.

Over 20 girls are being educated at St. Elizabeth orphanage on the territory of the Convent. Moreover, the Convent has a group of workers who set appointments with the needy at the Convent. Those in need address can come to them with requests for food, medicine and help in even more serious issues.The festival begins on July 18 with a prayer service and Liturgy at 7:45 a.m. The concert begins at 13.00.

© Pravoslavie.ru. 18 July, 2013


  


Posted by Paul Gilbert at 2:51 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 July 2013 2:56 PM EDT
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Monday, 2 April 2012
20-Year Anniversary of the Canonization of St. Elizabeth Romanov
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD

 

The Russian Orthodox Church is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the canonization of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna Romanova. She was renowned during her lifetime for her missionary, educational and charitable work. The Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy which she created with her own funds continues to this day to assist the needy, Vesti reports.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth was the widow of Grand Duke Sergeii Alexandrovich, who had been assassinated by terrorists in 1905. After her husband's death, she gave away her magnificent collection of jewels, including her wedding ring, and sold her other possessions. With the proceeds, she opened the convent and became its abbess. Her vision was to begin a religious community, made up of women from all social strata, that would merge the ideals of saints Martha and Mary, dedicated both to prayer and to serving the needs of the poor.

St. Elizabeth’s death was that of a martyr. Arrested on Lenin’s order, she was thrown into a mine and peppered with grenades, dying a slow and painful death.

Elizabeth was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and in 1992 by the Moscow Patriarchate as New Martyr Elizabeth. Her principal shrines are the convent she founded in Moscow, and the St. Mary Magdalene Convent on the Mount of Olives, which she and her husband helped build, and where her relics (along with the Nun Barbara) are enshrined. She is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London, England.

A statue of Elizabeth was erected in the garden of her convent after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its inscription reads: "To the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna: With Repentance."

© Russkiy Mir Foundation. 02 April, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 6:37 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 2 April 2012 6:53 AM EDT
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Monday, 26 March 2012
Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia - Westminster Abbey, London
Topic: Elizabeth Feodorovna GD

 

A statue to this modern martyr was unveiled in July 1998 and stands above the west entrance to Westminster Abbey. Sculptor John Roberts.

"I am leaving a glittering world where I had a glittering position, but with all of you I am descending into a greater world - the world of the poor and the suffering."

ELIZABETH of Hesse-Darmstadt was born on 1 November 1864. She was named after Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-31), a Catholic saint of her own family. Her mother died when she was a child, and she came to England to live under the protection of her grandmother, Queen Victoria. If her childhood was Lutheran, the religious culture of her adolescence was distinctively Anglican. In 1884 Elizabeth married Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, the fifth son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Elizabeth found Orthodoxy increasingly absorbing, and in 1891 she adopted the faith.

Although her life had assurance and all the comforts of eminence, it rested on fragile foundations. The Tsarist state maintained its grip over a changing society by repression. Talk of revolution persisted, and grew louder. Acts of terrorism mounted. On 18 February 1905, the Grand Duke Sergei was assassinated.

This marked a turning point in Elizabeth's life. Now she gave away her jewellery and sold her most luxurious possessions, and with the proceeds she opened the Martha and Mary home in Moscow, to foster the prayer and charity of devout women. Here there arose a new vision of a diaconate for women, one that combined intercession and action in the heart of a disordered world. In April 1909 Elizabeth and seventeen women were dedicated as Sisters of Love and Mercy. Their work flourished: soon they opened a hospital and a variety of other philanthropic ventures arose.

In March 1917 the Tsarist state, fatally damaged by the war with Germany, collapsed. In October, a revolutionary party, the Bolsheviks, seized power. Civil war followed. The Bolshevik party was avowedly atheistic, and it saw in the Orthodox Church a pillar of the old regime. In power, it persecuted the Church with terrible force. In time, hundreds of priests and nuns were imprisoned, taken away to distant labour camps, and killed. Churches were closed or destroyed. On 7 May 1918 Elizabeth was arrested with two sisters from her convent, and transported across country to Perm, then to Ekatarinburg, and finally to Alapaevsk. On 17 July the Tsar and his family were shot dead. During the following night Elizabeth, a sister from SS Mary and Martha named Varvara, and members of the royal family were murdered in a mineshaft.

In the Soviet Union Christianity survived in the face of periodic persecution and sustained oppression. But Elizabeth was remembered. In 1984 she was recognized as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and then by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1992.

© Westminster Abbey. 26 March, 2012



Posted by Paul Gilbert at 8:14 AM EDT
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