On July 4/17, we honor the memory of the Royal Passion-bearers, murdered in 1918: Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, and their children—Tsarevich Alexei and the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov speaks about the example given to us by the lives and deaths of the holy Royal Martyrs.
At one time, even fairly recently, the date July 17 in the so-called “new style,” was marked as a day of sorrow, because on this day the Russian people and the Russian diaspora remembered the great evil act when the Royal Family was brutally killed in the basement of Ipatiev House.
The history of Russia and the Romanov dynasty are so closely interwoven other that any new facts connected with the royal family become a real discovery of national importance. Until recently we knew of two holy icons associated with the House of Romanov. But not long ago it became known that there was another, a third icon which shared the destiny of the Royal Martyrs.
'I have a premonition. I have the certainty that I am destined for terrible trials, but I will not receive a reward for them in this world… Perhaps there must be a victim in expiation in order to save Russia. I will be this victim. May God’s will be done'!
Our guides say that very many people even change outwardly after visiting our monastery. They straighten their shoulders. Even their appearance changes! Attitudes to their own lives also change along with their perception of Russian history.
Tsar Nicholas and his beloved family— the Tsaritsa Alexandra, the Tsarevich Alexei, and the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia—along with their faithful servants were eventually to go to their deaths in a dank basement in Ekaterinburg. In their lives they stood for family, humility, nobility, duty, the Russian people, and above all for the holy Orthodox faith. And in the end they gave their lives for their nation and for that holy Orthodox faith, prevailing as the early martyrs before the lions. Having given their lives for Christ, they now intercede for us before Christ.
The Romanov children—the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatina, Maria, Anastasia and the heir, Grand Duke Alexis—were extraordinary in their ordinariness. Despite being born in one of the highest and most enviable positions in the world (from the secular point of view), and having access to all possible worldly goods, they lived and were brought up like ordinary children. Even more amazingly, despite being surrounded by a court environment made up of the entirely secular, godless and apostate aristocracy, the children grew up to be pious god-fearing and endowed with all manner of Christian virtue.
From that time on we often appealed to the holy Tsar Nicholas, and help came immediately under extraordinary circumstances. Since Tsar Nicholas Aleksandrovich was not only our Sovereign, but also head of a large family, we began to pray to him whenever we had family conflicts and disagreements. Peace was restored to our family very quickly. O holy Royal martyrs, pray to God for us!
Martyrdom is the same thing as Christianity. These two words have the same meaning. Hatred against Christ and His followers should not surprise us. It is natural, it was foretold by the Lord Himself, Who said: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). What sort of disciples would we then be, if we did not follow the footsteps of our Teacher?