On the night of July 16-17, 1918, the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarevich Alexei, and the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia and their faithful servants were brutally murdered in Ekaterinburg.
On July 19, the newspaper Izvestia reported “a message from the Ural Provincial Council on the shooting of the former Tsar Nicholas Romanov.”
On the same day, members of the Local Council, headed by His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, served a panikhida for the murdered Tsar. The Council also made an official decree to serve panikhidas in every church in Russia, with a commemoration according to the formula: “for the repose… of the former Emperor Nicholas II.”
One such panikhida was served by the former rector of the Church of the Resurrection at Vagankovo Cemetery (1903-1914), the missionary and publisher Archpriest Neophyte Lyubimov, well-known in Moscow, already retired at that time. On July 21,1918, at the request of the former Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod Alexander Dmitrievich Samarin, whom he knew well, Fr. Neophyte served a panikhida for “the newly-reposed, murdered former Tsar Nicholas” in the Church of St. Spyridon in Moscow, where he had been the rector after 1914. He was arrested that same night.
On September 17, 1918, a three-man presidium of the Department for Combating Counter-Revolution sentenced Archpriest Neophyte to death. The 72-year-old priest was shot and buried beyond the fence of the Kalitnikovskoe Cemetery on the same day.
Two days later, on September 19, his son-in-law, the Moscow Diocese missionary Nicholas Varzhansky, arrested in the case of Archpriest John Vostorgov, was shot in the same place (Hieromartyr John Vostorgov and Martyr Nicholas Varzhansky are commemorated on the same day, August 23/September 5). The martyr Nicholas’ missionary and anti-sectarian labors were widely known not just in Moscow. He paid special attention to the enlightenment of workers and the fight with the affliction of drunkenness in Russia’s first capital. He organized the Varnavinskoe Temperance Society, a branch of which was located in the Moscow Visoko-Petrovsky Monastery, near where his family lived.
Hieromartyr Neophyte Lyubimov had petitioned for the release of his son-in-law, addressing a letter to Lenin, whose father and sister he knew well in Simbirsk where he preached in the Simbirsk Diocesan Girl’s School in 1872-1885. He became a priest in 1885, continuing to preach, including in the Simbirsk Theological Seminary until 1902.
Fr. Neophyte wrote to Lenin in June 1918:
I knew your father well, and I very often saw him in private homes and at meetings where we discussed pedagogical matters. I was there when he died. I prayed for him then, and I pray for him now… There were hardships in your father’s family, they touched you, and you were dear to your parents. It is hard for me to bear the hardship of my daughter and my son (son-in-law)… I humbly ask you have compassion on my grief: Kindly release my son-in-law from any harassment and from prison, or release him to me on bail… He is a preacher of the Word of God—a missionary, and more.
He who “dared” to pray for the repose of the Tsar soon stood together with him before the King of Kings.
O holy Royal Passion-Bearers and all holy New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church, pray to God for us!