Russians Venerate Icon of Tsar-Martyr

A Russian Orthodox faithful kisses an icon depicting slain Tsar Nicholas II in Saint-Petersburg

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Hundreds of believers gathered Thursday at an Orthodox fair in the former imperial capital of Saint Petersburg to venerate a "miracle-working" icon of Russia's last monarch.

Tsar Nicholas II was shot by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution together with his family, and canonised by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.

"I am a Russian and an Orthodox, and for me the martyr saint Nicholas II is the symbol of Russia," 65 year-old Anatoly Kruglov said while standing in a long line to kiss the icon, which was brought to an expo centre south of the city.

The icon, which shows Nicholas II in full regal attire, is a replica of one painted in the United States in 1997. It was brought to Russia in 1998, where it was considered miraculous by believers for secreting myrrh.

Since coming to Russia, it has been travelling across the country by plane on orders of the former Orthodox patriarch Alexy II.

Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their five children, along with their servants, were shot in the Siberian city of Yekaterinburg in July 1918.

Even in Soviet times, the tsar and his family were secretly worshipped by Orthodox believers, while the place of their murder attracted a massive yearly pilgrimage.

Source: AFP
17 February, 2011