Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, on the 100th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Righteous Royal Passion-Bearers

    

To My Eminent Brother Archpastors, Honorable Fathers, Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The 20th century was a difficult time for Orthodox Christians on the territory of the Russian Empire, which became the USSR after the Great War, the October Revolution and Civil War. But the more the Church endured persecution, the brighter the lanterns of faith and piety shone in the Russian land. From the Tsar and the members of the Royal Family close to him in spirit, from archpastors and simple monastics, priests, deacons to laypersons came forth a powerful spiritual army of the Church Militant. By 1918, the Russian Church showed two sorts of podvig—that of martyrdom and that of confession. Thank God, today we see how the blood of many millions of the host of Martyrs and Confessors who turned the Russian land red became the seeds of salvation for the spiritual rebirth of our people, in the Fatherland and in the diaspora.

Over my years of service to the Church, I have met various people in Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, who have emulated Archimandrite Nicholas (Gibbes), once the English tutor of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich. Witnessing the profound piety of the Royal Family, their lofty nobility and examples of spirituality, he gradually immersed himself in Orthodox Christianity. When World War I began, he bore witness to the ideals of charity and empathy of the Royal Family towards soldiers and their neighbors. After the Revolution, the overthrow and unprecedented mockery of the Emperor and the Royal Family, he, a foreigner, accompanied them to Tobolsk, but was not allowed to continue with them to Ekaterinburg. In 1934, in the distant city of Harbin, China, Alexei Gibbes was tonsured to the monkhood by the hands of the missionary Archbishop Nestor (Anisimov) of Kamchatka and given the name Nicholas in honor of St Nicholas the Wonderworker and in memory of the Tsar-Martyr.

Today, many Americans, Germans, Frenchmen, Australians and citizens of other nations are approaching the sanctified threshold of the Church of Christ, as did Archimandrite Nicholas in his day, after learning of the wondrous example of faith, patience, humility and endurance of suffering without grumbling by Tsar-Martyr Nicholas and his August Family, comparing their lives with those of the martyrs of the ancient Church. Thank God, even among our own people, many have been inspired by the manner in which the pious Royal Passion-Bearers calmly faced imprisonment, exile, suffering and death.

One cannot help but remember the struggle of other martyrs who accepted suffering for Christ 100 years ago: St Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev, whose uncorrupt hand with a gesture of blessing continued to bless his murderers, and all of us who pray to him; St Andronik, Archbishop of Perm, a one-time aide to St Nicholas of Japan, Equal-to-the-Apostles, and student of the founder of the Russian Church Abroad Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky); St Vasily, Archbishop of Chernigov, sent to Perm to head a commission of the All-Russian Pomestny Council to investigate the murder of Archbishop Andronik and earning in that city the martyr’s crown along with other members of the delegation. At almost the same time, the Bolsheviks killed St Varlaam, Archimandrite and Abbot of Belogorsky Monastery of Perm Diocese, who enjoyed the special attention and good will of Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna and St John of Kronstadt. By Divine mercy, Hegumen Seraphim (Kuznetsov), former head of a skete in Perm, along with several other of his monastic brethren, was delivered from arrest and execution. Fr Seraphim expended great effort in transferring the relics of the Martyrs of Alapaevsk: first the princely martyrs to Peking, then St Elizabeth and Nun Barbara to the Holy Land, where he found then a final resting place himself.

The Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church are our hope for Divine mercy. These were our ancestors, the roots which nourish us with God’s grace: without our prayerful bond with them, without preserving their memory and our active striving and emulation in our lives of their faith and patience, we have no future. That is why we should study this richest of histories, let us lovingly learn of the lives, suffering and legacy of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors, and commune with them in prayer, as we hear in the kontakion of the feast: “that we also, whenever the hour of trial finds us, may receive the gift of courage from God.” Amen.

With love in the Lord,
+HILARION,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

July 4/17, 2018.

See also
Popular biography of Romanov Royal Martyrs from Cypriot monastery soon available in English Popular biography of Romanov Royal Martyrs from Cypriot monastery soon available in English Popular biography of Romanov Royal Martyrs from Cypriot monastery soon available in English Popular biography of Romanov Royal Martyrs from Cypriot monastery soon available in English
The Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Mesa Potamos, Cyprus, wishes to announce that soon, by God’s grace, an English version of its recently published book The Romanov Royal Martyrs will be available.
The Romanovs: A Family Portrait The Romanovs: A Family Portrait
Photogallery
The Romanovs: A Family Portrait The Romanovs: A Family Portrait
Photogallery
In them we can trace the history of love—Nicholas and Alexandra as betrothed, then as husband and wife, and then with their firstborn child. Finally we see them all—as we see them depicted on icons.
The Daily Life of the Family of the Last Emperor Under Arrest in Tsarskoe Selo The Daily Life of the Family of the Last Emperor Under Arrest in Tsarskoe Selo
Anastasia Savchuk
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Anastasia Savchuk
When the tsar left Petrograd on February 22, 1917, there was no suspicion that his return would be connected with such tragic events. The family was reunited on March 9, although it was no longer the family of the autocrat of the great Russian Empire, before whom all were in awe, but the family of a prisoner.
On the Canonization of the Royal Martyrs On the Canonization of the Royal Martyrs
Archpriest Alexander Shargunov
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Archpriest Alexander Shargunov
The theme of canonization is truly, above all, the theme of awakening, reflecting on how the people’s memory was stifled, how it was held in a hypnotic state, suggesting that there was nothing, and no tsar. The most forbidden subject was the Tsar.
What is the Meaning of Passion-bearing? What is the Meaning of Passion-bearing?
Priest Valery Dukhanin, Priest Dimitry Shishkin, Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov
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Pastors’ Words on the Day of the Holy Passion-bearers Boris and Gleb
Priest Valery Dukhanin, Priest Dimitry Shishkin, Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov
The holy, right-believing Prince-Passion-bearers Boris and Gleb were the first saints to be canonized in Rus’. Despite this, many Christians, and especially in our time, do not understand the meaning of their podvig. And really, where is the virtue in being meekly killed? Deacon Valery Dukhanin, Fr. Dimitry Shishkin, and Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov speak about the meaning and importance of the podvig of the holy princes and the last Russian tsar.
Illuminated and Radiant: the Royal Martyrs Illuminated and Radiant: the Royal Martyrs
Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov
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Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov
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.
Comments
Mother Elizabeth (Bacha)7/18/2018 7:11 am
Yes, we must do as Vladyka Hilarion says and learn from these Martyrs of the 20th Century and commune with them in prayer. I too have had many friends who left Russia in the teenagehood as Vera Tolstoy (granddaughter of the great Author, Leo Tolstoy and speaker for many years on Radio Free Europe.Another Vera, her childhood friend Vera Tate (Boris Pasternak's great niece), who helped resettle many new arrivals in New York City as a Social Worker became very close to me when I was the "Matushka Carol" (in Titusville, Florida in the 1980's. The blessing of Vladyka Hilarion for our now New Tikhvin Skete of the Holy Mother of God in Palm Coast, FL carries forth the prayer requests of these +
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