ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA: May 10, 2017
The Reliquary of Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth is Brought to St Theodore Cathedral in Russia’s Northern Capital
A reliquary of Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara were brought on May 9, 2017, from Holy Trinity Cathedral in St Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Petersburg to the city’s Fedorovsky Icon of the Mother of God Cathedral.
Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Senior Priest of the cathedral, Protopriest Alexander Sorokin along with Protopriest Andrei Sommer, Vice President of the Synodal Youth Department of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Protopriest Konstantin Golovatsky, Head of the Diocesan Youth Department of St Petersburg, along with other cathedral and visiting clergymen.
A choir composed of the cathedral’s singers under Anastasia Sorokina and the St Vladimir Youth Choir under Adrian Fekula sang.
Fr Alexander delivered a sermon, saying:
Today we gather not only to commemorate those who died during the war, which took place not so long ago, but also to celebrate the arrival of a reliquary of Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth and her faithful aid, Holy Nun Barbara. There is an underlying historical and spiritual logic to this coincidence: during the consecration of this cathedral, built a little over 100 years ago to mark the 300th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, the entire Royal House was present, headed by the Tsar and the widowed Empress Maria Feodorovna. It is assumed that Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna was present as well. The icon you see here of St Elizabeth and St Barbara was painted shortly after the decision was made to renovate the cathedral. It also represents Blessed Xenia of St Petersburg. This icon now lies in the center of the church, and the reliquary will be placed in front of it during its visit.
Fr Alexander noted that the Gospel reading that day (John 7:1-13) speaks of the relatives of Christ, who one might imagine understood the Savior, but address Him with words of irony and unbelief. “We should connect that which happened in our country in the early 20th century with the words we hear in today’s Gospel, about how difficult it is for our hearts to receive the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was preparing to reveal Himself to the world,” he continued. “Each person, and mankind itself, finds it difficult to accept His appearance in the world, though following the sacrifice of Christ Himself, other sacrifices were brought forth, those of the holy martyrs. Upon this blood is the Christian faith established. May the Gospel inspire us to this effort to let the words of Christ bring forth within us the fruits of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Fr Andrei then thanked Fr Alexander and the other clerics for their joint prayer, and offered a gift of an icon containing a portion of the relics of SS Elizabeth and Barbara, expressing the hope that the reliquary itself would once again visit Russia.
“My heart burns with joy for being here in this cathedral, where the Holy Royal Martyrs prayed, and maybe Elizaveta Fedorovna herself,” he said.
“There are many cathedrals, attended by a great many worshipers, but we who live abroad have smaller parishes, where everyone knows each other,” said Isaiah Trofimenko, one of the St Vladimir Youth singers, in an interview with Voda Zhivaya news service. “But we are all united by the Church Slavonic language. The Russian Church Abroad was founded and developed by emigres who fled during the Civil War, members of the White Movement. Later more recent emigres arrived, and one notices the difference. It is good that we can travel to Russia, I think we learn from each other.”