ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA: May 5, 2017
The Relics of Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth Arrive in Russia’s Northern Capital
A reliquary containing the hand of Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth arrived in St Petersburg, Russia, on May 6, 2017, brought from the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in New York City by Protopriest Andrei Sommer. The box also contains relics of Holy Martyr Nun Barbara, the Grand Duchess’ aide.
Greeting the holy relics at the airport were: His Grace Bishop Nazary of Kronstadt, Prior of St Alexander Nevsky Lavra; Protopriest Alexander Sorokin, President of the Diocesan Information Department, and other clergymen of the Diocese of St Petersburg. A moleben was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral at the monastery, where the relics were brought, after which worshipers were given the opportunity to pray before and venerate the relics.
“One hundred years ago, revolution broke out in our glorious city,” said Vladyka Nazary. “Many still view that as a worthy achievement, which means that reconciliation has not yet taken place within our society. I am inclined to call the Revolution a great catastrophe, which befell not only Russia in its present borders but the entire territory of the Russian Empire,” he stressed. “This Revolution lay the foundations for division. The only positive outcome of that period was that the Patriarchate was restored in Russia.”
Vladyka Nazary called upon every person who came to venerate the relics to ponder this question.
“History has a way of repeating. We must pray to God and the New Martyrs who suffered under the godless regime that nothing of the sort ever happens again,” said the hierarch, adding that a day earlier, on the very site where Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, the spouse of St Elizabeth, was martyred in Moscow, a memorial cross was erected. “I don’t know if this is a coincidence or not, but it is very symbolic. We are talking about reconciliation and unity, these are not only words, and we must actively strive for unity.”
Protopriest Konstantin Golovatsky, Head of the Diocesan Youth Department, said to a correspondent from “Voda Zhivaya” news service, that these relics were brought to Russia as a result of the bonds between young people in St Petersburg and in the USA.
“The delegation of St Petersburg youth has several times in the last couple of years attended the St Herman Conference in the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. These events are devoted to St Herman of Alaska in late December, and in 2016, gathered over 200 delegates. A delegation of Orthodox youth from America has also visited us. They had the idea of bringing the relics of St Elizabeth on the hundredth anniversary of the Revolution,” he said.
The visit of the relics was made possible with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of ROCOR, and His Eminence Metropolitan Varsonofy of St Petersburg and Ladoga.
The relics of St Elizabeth and St Barbara are found at Gethsemane Convent in Jerusalem, in the Church of St Mary Magdelene. In 1918, the remains of the Grand Duchess were brought from Alapaevsk, where she and her companion were martyred, through Shanghai to Jerusalem, where she had wished to be interred. In 1981, after the canonization of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the hand of the Grand Duchess and a portion of the relics of St Barbara were brought to the USA.
The reliquary will remain in St Alexander Nevsky Lavra from May 5-9, and from May 9-11 at the Church of the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God.
The Men’s Youth Choir of the Eastern American Diocese of ROCOR is also in St Petersburg from May 4-12, and will participate in divine services before the reliquary.
Photos: Andrei Petrov.