Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich
Conference Held in St. Petersburg

by Paul Gilbert

A conference dedicated to the life and legacy of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was held in St. Petersburg on May 11th

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The conference took place in the former Sergius Palace on Nevsky Prospekt, more commonly known as the Palace of Princes Beloselsky-Belozersky.

A conference dedicated to the life and legacy of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was held this week in St. Petersburg. The two-day conference was held on May 14-15, and took place in the grand duke's former residence, the Sergius Palace which is situated on the Nevsky Prospekt. Today, the palace is more commonly known as the Palace of Princes Beloselsky-Belozersky. The conference was the first of its kind dedicated to the memory of an outstanding representative of the Imperial dynasty, according to the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS .

It was organized by the Foundation for the Memory of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, with the support of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society, the Memorial Foundation of the Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomna, and other organizations.

Immediately prior to the conference was a presentation of the fourth volume of the letters and diaries of the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich Romanov. These unique volumes of exhaustive biographical material are published by the Novospassky Monastery Publishing House in Moscow. Prior to the conference participants also enjoyed a concert by the The St.John of Damascus Children's and Youth Choir, led by Irina Boldysheva.

The conference, timed to coincide with the birthday of the Sergei Alexandrovich, was opened with a liturgy and requiem for the grand duke by Metropolitan Macarius (Bulgakov) of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, in the palaces' Hall of Mirrors.

Delegates assemble in the Hall of Mirrors of the former Sergius Palace on Nevsky Prospekt where day one of the conference was held

Historians, linguists, philologists, clergy and other public figures from St. Petersburg and Moscow gathered for the conference, presenting papers on the life and many activities the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, in their service to the Fatherland.

Historian Dimitri Grishin, who has spent the last two decades studying the life of the grand duke gave a lecture speaking in favour of the canonization of Sergei Alexandrovich, believing him a "charitable man" and "a true Christian". In his view, the negative image commonly held by many Russians needs to be purged from slander, which has plagued the Romanovs since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

In his message to the conference, Kirill, head of the Committee Honorary Members of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, said that the name of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich is associated with selfless service to the Fatherland, the people and the Church. Remembering the tragic death of Sergei Alexandrovich, he stressed that "our common duty - is be aware of the troubles and discord in Russian society which led it to such a terrible outcome in the last century." According to His Holiness, the analysis of the past will not only restore the memory of the Grand Duke, but also to prevent the recurrence of further anti-government sentiment.

Deacon Roman Bogdasarov, of the Department of the Moscow Patriarchate for Church and Society, noted the prominent role that Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich played in Russia's history, also stressing that his death further led to the foul murder of the Holy Royal Martyrs in Ekaterinburg in 1918.

Sergei Zhitenev, the head of the pilgrims' section of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, stressed that the IOPS honour and remember their first chairman, who helped to radically change Russian policy in the Middle East. Since then, both figuratively said Zhitenev, the shining star of Russia's presence in the Holy Land.

On behalf of the Makaryevsky Fund, guests and participants also welcomed Emilia Gamayunova, the executive secretary of the advisory council fund. She drew a parallel between the Metropolitan Macarius and the Grand Duke Sergei, who, in her opinion have suffered for the Russian people.

Anna Gromov, Ph.D., of the Elizabethan Society of the Usovo Zvenigorod village district, told of how the community of the Usova village still worships Grand Duke Sergei and Grand Duchess Elizaveta, and that much is still done for the glorification of their memory. Before the revolution, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich owned an estate in the region.

Alexander Panin, a member of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, reported that the Fund had re-issued a pre-revolutionary edition of the book dedicated to Grand Duke Sergei. As a gift, he presented copies to the organizers of the conference.

According to Vladimir Melnik, a Doctor of Philology, and Professor of the State Academy of Slavic Culture, as well as an active member of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, "the former imperial capital laid the spiritual foundation for Sergei Alexandrovich.

It was in St. Petersburg that Grand Duke Sergei received a fundamental education, listening to the lectures of the best university professors. His soul being fully aware of his dynastic duty as a member of the Russian Imperial family. Here, he began his military career, being appointed to serve as commander of the Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration) Regiment by his brother, the Emperor Alexander III in 1882. It was also in St. Petersburg that he began his married life with the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, sister of the last Empress of Russia. This period of his life is told in the exhibition, which opened at the Palace on Nevsky Prospekt.

The second day of the conference was held at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery and ended with a concert performed by the children and youth choir of the Church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, as well as an excursion to St. Petersburg places associated with the life of the Imperial couple. Results of the conference were summed up in the evening with a round table discussion.

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich - the son of Emperor Alexander II, from 1891 was the military governor-general of Moscow. He headed the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, was the honorary chairman of the Russian Historical Museum, and a trustee of the Moscow Theological Academy. He was assassinated by terrorists on February 17, 1905. His remains were exhumed in 1995 and reburied in a vault of the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow.

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich's remains were exhumed in 1995 and reburied in a vault of the Novospassky Monastery in Moscow

The conference coincided with the upcoming celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, which will be celebrated in 2013. Many exhibitions, conferences, and other events are planned for this historic event.

Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia
Sources: Императорское Православное Палестинское Общество, Фонд "Русский мир", ИТАР-ТАСС, Православие.Ru
16 May, 2011