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  Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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The relics of martyred nuns Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Sister Barbara were brought today to St. Daniel's Monastery in Moscow
The relics of martyred nuns Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Sister Barbara were brought today to St. Daniel's Monastery in Moscow. Moscow's longest-established monastic abode, it is one of the urban residences of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia-Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. A procession brought the relics from St. Daniel's Square in front of the monastery to its Trinity Cathedral for a commemorative service. The holy relics will stay in the monastery up to August 5, when they start travel across entire Russia from its Pacific coast to the Baltic Sea. The two reliquaries left their convent in Jerusalem, of the Russian Church Abroad, with the blessing of Metropolitan Laurus, its Primate, and Alexis II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. They reached the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow's principal shrine, July 25, for public worship. More than fifty thousand Muscovites and people visiting the city have bowed to them. Grand Duchess Elizabeth Theodorovna, nee Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, granddaughter of Britain's dearly loved Queen Victoria, and elder sister of Alexandra, Russia's last Empress, was given in wedlock to Grand Duke Sergius, uncle of Nicholas II, and Moscow Governor General. Elizabeth willingly discarded her Protestant denomination to embrace Russian Orthodoxy, and became one of the most dedicated daughters of her adoptive Church. She took the veil after her husband fell in a terrorist bomb attack in 1905. Sts. Martha and Mary's Convent, of which Elizabeth was founding Mother Superior, threw its doors wide-open to the poor and the sick, and all otherwise in need of help. Elizabeth was working her hands to the bone together with her nuns. The laity lovingly referred to her as Royal Mother Abbess. With the revolution of 1917, the entire Martha and Mary sisterhood was put under house arrest on Easter 1918. Elizabeth was promised safe passage if she emigrated. The saintly lady staunchly refused to leave the land to which she had given her heart. Bolsheviks took Elizabeth and Sister Barbara, her dedicated follower, off to Perm and on to Alapayevsk, in the Ural foothills, where many of the Royal family were awaiting their doom under arrest. Nicholas, Alexandra, their five children and a few courtiers of ardent loyalty met their death by the firing squad in Yekaterinburg, in the small hours of July 17 (4, Old Style), 1918. Alexandra's sister shared her doom the day after with six Grand Dukes of the House of the Romanovs. Sister Barbara met martyrdom at her Mother Superior's side. That was the feast of St. Sergius of Radonezh, one of Russia's foremost saints, whom Elizabeth worshipped with her whole ardent heart. On that horrible day, Bolsheviks took the members of the Royal family and Sister Barbara to the discarded Nizhny Selimsky coal mine, 12 kilometers off the town, where they were heinously battered and thrown alive down the mine. The martyrs were dying of injuries and starvation for several days. Local peasants tearfully hearkened to canticles they sang. After Whiteguards under Admiral Kolchak took Alapayevsk, in autumn 1918, they reverentially removed the remains from the mine to bury them in the town Trinity Cathedral. A Red advance of the next summer sent the army in a retreat. White soldiers took the relics with them by train off to Chita in East Siberia and on to Beijing, in 1920. Later on, the relics of Elizabeth and Barbara found their way to Jerusalem. They traveled by sea to Shanghai and on to Port Said, Egypt, from where they were brought by train to Jerusalem to be displayed for worship in St. Mary Magdalene's Church in the garden of Gethsemane, property of the Russian Church in Exile. Patriarch Damien of Jerusalem buried the remains of Elizabeth and Barbara, February 21, 1921. The Russian Church Abroad canonized the holy nuns with the other new Russian martyrs back in the 1920s. The Russian Orthodox Church followed itas late as 1992.
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