Ekaterinburg, July 18, 2022
The Ekaterinburg Diocese’s annual Royal Days celebrations in honor of Tsar Nicholas II and his family, who were brutally slain on the night of July 17, 1918, continue to be among the most popular pilgrimages for the Orthodox faithful both in Russia and from abroad.
This year’s pilgrimage gathered tens of thousands, with services celebrated by 9 hierarchs.
The main events began on Saturday, July 16, with a Divine Liturgy in the “Royal Room”—a chapel in the basement of the Church on the Blood, built over the exact room where the Royal Family and their loyal servants were martyred. The Liturgy was celebrated by Metropolitan Evgeny of Ekaterinburg, Bishop Theodosy of Isilkul, and Bishop Theodosy of Nizhny Tagil.
“We, being here, look at the icon, which is located on the eastern wall of the execution room. We see the holy Royal Passion-Bearers in glory, in Heavenly radiance. We understand that despite all this hellish hatred, the malice that may be present on earth, they’re above it,” preached Met. Evgeny. “They were already above it here on this day, and now they shine in glory. Being here, with one side of our hearts we come into contact with tragedy, with the other we see, we taste the glory in which the Royal Family abides.”
Later that day, the “Small Royal Procession” was held along the Ekaterinburg Way of Sorrow, passing through places that keep the memory of the Royal Martyrs. About 500 people participated in this first procession.
Then Small Vespers with an akathist to the Royal Martyrs was served in the Royal Room chapel by Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent, who previously served as Archbishop of Ekaterinburg.
The main services for the feast of the Royal Martyrs began that evening with a hierarchical All-Night Vigil on the square in front of the Church on the Blood, led by eight hierarchs of the Russian Church.
Fr. Konstantin Korepanov addressed the faithful with a word about the Royal Martyrs as a family:
Every family is like a small church, a family church, an icon of the Church… And looking at the icon of the Royal Passion-Bearers, we can see in it an icon of the Church, and that in fact, each of us in our families are called to build a church. And when each of us can do this in our families, then the greater Church will be strong, healthy, full of grace, and it will truly become the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
And on the night of July 16-17, the Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Holy Royal Martyrs was celebrated on the square in front of the Church on the Blood by nine hierarchs of the Russian Church. Tens of thousands of Orthodox faithful gathered for the service, filling the square.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Met. Vikenty invoked God’s blessing upon all joining in the annual procession, so that everyone could walk this path in prayer and repentance and bring this sacrificial service to God and love for the Royal Passion-Bearers.
At about 3:00 AM, to the chanting of the hymn “God Save the Tsar!” the procession started off for the monastery at Ganina Yama, the site where the precious bodies of the Royal Martyrs were callously discarded. Many foreign guests from the U.S., Germany, Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, Baltic countries, Uzbekistan, and other countries took part in the 13-mile procession. About 36,000 people participated altogether, reports the Ekaterinburg Diocese.
The front of the procession reached the monastery at about 7:00 AM. The brethren of the monastery greeted the procession hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and faithful with the ringing of the monastery bells.
Upon arrival, a moleben to the Royal Martyrs was served at the monastery’s memorial cross. Then Met. Vikenty thanked all those who participated in the holy march, saying: “We sacrificed ourselves so that the Lord would accept this small sacrifice of ours, cleanse our souls from our sins and, through the prayers of the Royal Passion-Bearers, grant us the strength to endure the difficulties of this life and undergo a very serious preparation for eternal life.”
“The procession turned out to be joyful and quick,” Met. Evgeny said, sharing his impressions with the media. “The people who walked in it conveyed some kind of inner joy to one another. It was very good, filled with grace; it wasn’t difficult.”
After the moleben, all the pilgrims were treated to breakfast by the monastery.
The Royal Days celebrations continue in Alapaevsk, where St. Elizabeth the Grand Ducess and sister of Tsaritsa Alexandra and those with her were brutally martyred.