THE HOLY ROYAL MARTYRS IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORY AND GOD ’S PROVIDENCE
- THE HOLY ROYAL MARTYRS IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORY AND GOD’S PROVIDENCE
Behind all wars, revolution, downfall of kingdoms, – all the political
events of external history – we see the hidden working of spiritual laws
and, in the final analysis, God’s Providence concerning the fates of
peoples and nations. Any other explanation of the reasons for the
revolutions of 1905 and 1917 would be incomprehensible and inaccurate. One
thing is certain: the Russian society’s apostasy from God and the Church
brought down God’s wrath upon Russia. As in the many cases of ancient
Israel’s apostasy from God, about which we read in the Bible, Russia’s
malady could not be cured by ordinary measures. For the sake of instruction
and correction God would hand the Jews over into the hands of infidels; the
very same fate befell Russia in the beginning of the 20th century.
Through Tsar Nicholas II – an irreproachably pure and wonderful person –
God’s will was made manifest in the world. His fate, in essence, was deeply
tragic. He was born on the day of St. Job the Much-suffering and was keenly
aware that his life was similar to Job’s martyric path.
His knowledge of his fate was truly prophetic. “I have more than a
presentiment, – he used to say, – that I am doomed to terrible trials, and
that I will not be rewarded for them in this world.” Beginning with
Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese war, which was followed by the
revolution of 1905-1907, which diminished the Tsar's power and freed the
forces of anarchy and outright evil, the foundations of Russian sovereignty
tottered more and more. “I am unsuccessful in all my undertakings, – the
Tsar bitterly concluded, – I have no luck. However, man’s will is so
powerless anyway.” He realized that he was not subjectively to blame for
Russia’s misfortunes; the good of the motherland meant more to him than
anything else, and he did everything he could for this good. Tsar
Nicholas’s conscience was clear before God, but his moral suffering,
nevertheless, reached extraordinary proportions. Thus once, – this was
during the first Russian revolution, – from the depths of his inner anguish
the Tsar uttered prophetic words which indicated with absolute accuracy the
role he was invisibly assigned to play in Russia’s fate by God Himself.
“Perhaps a sacrifice is needed for the salvation of Russia, – said the
Sovereign. – I shall be that sacrifice. May God’s will be done.” In saying
this the Tsar was like the martyrs of ancient times, who freely and without
coercion gave themselves up to suffering for Christ. Nicholas II was
murdered in July of 1918 not simply as a helpless and defenseless person:
the extraordinary courage of his behavior as he descended into the cellar
of the Ipatyev house with his sick son in his arms, and even earlier, when
he and the Empress refused to emigrate or flee the country, – all this
speaks of the fact that their souls were ready for sacrificial and
Christ-like suffering, which fulfilled the prophetic words spoken by him 10
When Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia came to the aid of this
small Slavic nation. This event still lives in the historic memory of the
Serbs; and if among European nations there is still anyone who loves Russia
and Russians – it is the Serbs. However, their greatest love was for Tsar
Nicholas II, who had sanctioned Russia’s participation in the war. It was
the Serbs who began venerating the Russian Tsar as a saint, placing him on
a par with their great Saint Savva of Serbia. And it was among the Russians
in Serbia that the issue of canonizing the Royal Family was brought up for
the first time in 1938.
The beginning of the war brought success to the Russians at the front, and
the country was gripped by patriotic fervor. The rear provided immense aid
to the front; the Empress and the Princesses took an active part in it.
After learning the art of nursing, they daily spent many hours in the
hospitals. The Empress and her daughters Olga and Tatyana tended the
wounded and sat with the dying, providing great comfort to the sufferers.
The Empress and Tatyana also worked as surgical nurses; it is not hard to
imagine their courage, patience and truly Christian love: assisting the
doctors in numerous amputations of injured limbs required, besides
training, great moral strength. The Winter Palace was also turned into a
huge hospital. This enterprise also included the preparation of
undergarments, warm clothes, and other items needed by the soldiers at the
front; the entire work was organized by the Empress. She also sent to the
front a multitude of Gospels, icons, and crosses, which were handed out to
the soldiers. One can imagine the joy of a soldier who had received such a
blessing from the Empress!
Soon, however, our armies’ offensive stopped, while our losses began to
increase. Discontent arose in the top circles of society – both in the
capital and at military headquarters. The revolutionaries made use of the
lack of success at the front, in order to disseminate their propaganda at
the front and in the rear. The Germans quickly moved toward the heart of
Russia; in these conditions, wishing to raise the spirit of the troops, the
Tsar took upon himself the supreme command and moved to General
Headquarters, deployed at Mogilev. Prince Alexis went with him to the
However, making use of the Tsar’s absence from the capital, oppositional
aristocracy increased its activity. The court discussed the advisability of
a coup d’etat, placing Grand Duke Nicholas (the Tsar’s uncle) on the
throne. The opposing faction asserted that the Tsar and the Empress stood
in the way of Russia’s victory in the war; Grand Duke Nicholas sent the
Tsar a telegram, entreating him to abdicate the throne. Similar telegrams
were also sent by the majority of the commanding officers at the front. And
when a revolution occurred in February 1917, the Tsar's entourage took the
side of the provisional government. The Tsar was assured that only his
abdication from the throne could save Russia. And in the face of such
betrayal the Tsar sacrificed himself, heeding these voices. After a fervent
prayer during the night in front of an icon, he abdicated the throne; this
took place on March 2nd. “There is no sacrifice that I would not make for
the true good and salvation of Russia. For this reason I am ready to
abdicate the throne” – such is the telegram he sent to the chairman of the
However, after the abdication everything turned out contrary to what the
opposition was expecting: the people began to fall prey to their basest
passions and moral decay set in; with unbridled speed Russia rushed towards
destruction. The Tsar’s sacrifice was accepted by God, but not in the way
that the architects of the abdication had in mind: there was no immediate
outward benefit from it. The Tsar had been that mystic principle which had
restrained the forces of evil; now nothing prevented anti-Christian
elements from entering into the world.
A new era began for the Sovereign and his family: their worldly life ended
and their saints’ life began, together with their Christian exploits. The
Tsar and his entourage were kept under guard at Tsarskoye Selo. The
prisoners pinned their hopes only on God’s will, and the Lord helped them
retain their inner peace until the very end. The Tsar and his family were
subjected to humiliation and mockery from the guards and the other “new”
people who now surrounded them. On July 31st the martyrs’ path to Golgotha
began: they were taken from their palace and sent on to Siberia.
Holy martyr Empress Alexandra On August 6th the Royal Family arrived in
Tobolsk on the ship “Rus’.” “My heart bleeds inexpressibly for the dear
homeland,” – these words of the Empress in a private letter describe the
inner state of the entire family. But its members were cheerful: they were
fortified by their faith, the Church, and God’s grace. They faithfully
participated in church services; the Empress and the children sang in the
choir. Through their suffering the Royal Martyrs’ spirit grew stronger.
“God’s way is a daily cross,” – the Empress wrote these words of St. Isaac
the Syrian in her notebook. “Christians must undergo sorrows and external
and internal warfare, in order to conquer these blows through patience.
Such is the path of Christianity,” – another of her excerpts (from St. Mark
the Great) reveals to us the inner state of the sufferers.
On the eve of Pascha of 1918 the Royal Family was parted. A commissar
arrived from the Bolsheviks in Moscow and announced to the Tsar that he
would be taken away. The Empress decided to accompany her husband despite
great inner agony, since she was thus being forced to part from the sick
Prince Alexis. Princess Maria went together with her parents…This parting
was a torment for the entire family.
The royal couple was detained by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg. In early
May the other members of the family came here, together with several loyal
servants. The martyrs had two and a half months to live. They were
tormented with increasing subtlety, but even among the brutal guards there
were those who bowed down before their Christian meekness and humility.
During the night of July 17th the greatest crime was committed: innocent,
holy people, together with God’s anointed, were heinously murdered. Three
days before this villainy a church service was served for the Royal Family.
When the prayer “Grant repose with the saints…” was sung, the martyrs
unexpectedly got down on their knees. As though sensing their imminent end,
they sang a funereal hymn for themselves… That fatal night the guards came
for them, saying that they were being taken out of the city. Instead, they
were taken down to the cellar; several chairs were standing there, and the
Tsar sat in the middle, holding the Tsarevich in his arms. Together with
the Royal Family were Doctor Botkin and their loyal servants. They waited
for a sign of departure, but instead a commissar entered the cellar
accompanied by soldiers.
The commissar – his name was Yurovskiy – announced the forthcoming
execution. The Empress only had time to make the sign of the cross; she was
killed instantly, at the same time as the Emperor. Prince Alexis and
Princess Anastasia suffered longer than the rest; the first bullets did not
bring them death, and so the soldiers killed them off with bayonets. The
doctor and the three servants died also, sharing the fate of the Royal
Family out of love for them. This sacrilegious murder was not simply a
private crime of the political revolution: it was a universal sin. The
burden of the sin of regicide still continues to lie upon Russia.
Tsar Nicholas II and his family were the carriers of the ideals of Holy
Russia, of the ideals of Orthodoxy. In contrast to many people of that era
– Christians in name only – they treated Orthodoxy with all seriousness.
They were God’s elect and, therefore, people not of this world; they were
alien to the society of those times. As true Christians, they were
persecuted in this world; their sorrowful path was crowned by martyrdom.
Now, together with all the other Russian saints, they stand before Christ
in prayer for Russia.
THE WHITE CRUSADE
Our shoulders held high, in our satchels
Wild honey and locusts we bear –
We’re the glorious warriors’ forerunners,
We pay homage to the holy crusade.
In our reverent and austere service
To the holy river Jordan we call,
For behind us who baptize with phrases
Will come warriors to baptize with swords.
May the white-winged cuirasses soar then!
May the golden spear glisten aloft!
I, the herald of unfading glory,
Gave to God my entire heart…
So be it! My uplifted shoulders
Bending down on the meadow of white,
My crusader’s songs like candles
Before the image of Russia I’ll light.
- Ivan Savin (poet of Russian sorrow)
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
- Can you please tell me who wrote the prose part of "The Holy Royal Martyrs in the Light of History and God's Providence," below?
On Mon, 31 Jul 2006 11:10:45 +1100, Basil Yakimov wrote:
�THE HOLY ROYAL MARTYRS IN THE LIGHT OF HISTORY AND GOD’S PROVIDENCE
�Behind all wars, revolution, downfall of kingdoms, – all the political
�events of external history – we see the hidden working of spiritual laws
�and, in the final analysis, God’s Providence concerning the fates of
�peoples and nations. Any other explanation of the reasons for the
�revolutions of 1905 and 1917 would be incomprehensible and inaccurate. One
�thing is certain: the Russian society’s apostasy from God and the Church
�brought down God’s wrath upon Russia. As in the many cases of ancient
�Israel’s apostasy from God, about which we read in the Bible, Russia’s
�malady could not be cured by ordinary measures. For the sake of instruction
�and correction God would hand the Jews over into the hands of infidels; the
�very same fate befell Russia in the beginning of the 20th century.