Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Just, and Firm of Purpose Are We

November 12th, 2009, Promulgated by Gen

I thought that, given our new heading and the quotes thereon, we should look for a moment at some of the unsung martyrs of the past century. Though you may say, “Hey, this is English Month, not Russian Month,” I should like to remind you that these Orthodox souls were related to the English royal family. Who am I talking about?

Why, none other than the Romanov family, the line of czars that ruled Russia for three hundred years. While many people know that the Russian royal family was deposed and executed in the Russian or “Bolshevik” Revolution, few know that the Czar, his wife, their five children, and four household servants were canonized in the Russian Orthodox Church which, in a sense, makes them “half-saints” of the Catholic Church. We may not have been the actual “canonizers,” but I think we in the Latin Church can still appreciate the trials they went through and which contributed to their being named “Passion Bearers” for Christ in recent years.

Here is a summary of the last few days of the Romanov family:

“Gradually these guards were humanised by contact with their prisoners. They were astonished at their simplicity, attracted by their gentleness, subdued by their serene dignity, and soon found themselves dominated by those whom they thought they held in their power. The drunken Avdiev found himself disarmed by such greatness of soul; he grew conscious of his own infamy. The early ferocity of these men was succeeded by profound piety.”

When this would happen, the inhuman Bolsheviks would replace the guards who had been so touched with crueller and more animalistic ones.

Seldom being allowed to go to church, they nevertheless nourished their souls with home prayers and greatly rejoiced at every opportunity to receive the Divine sacraments. Three days before their martyrdom, in the very house in which they were imprisoned, there took place the last church service of their suffering lives. As the officiating priest, Fr. John Storozhev, related: “‘It appeared to me that the Emperor, and all his daughters, too, were very tired. During such a service it is customary to read a prayer for the deceased. For some reason, the Deacon began to sing it, and I joined him… As soon as we started to sing, we heard the Imperial Family behind us drop to their knees’ (as is done during funeral services)… Thus they prepared themselves, without suspecting it, for their own death – in accepting the funeral viaticum. Contrary to their custom none of the family sang during the service, and upon leaving the house the clergymen expressed the opinion that they ‘appeared different’ – as if something had happened to them.”

The Tsaritsa (wife of Nicholas II, the czar) used to say:

“We are one, and this, alas, is so rare today. We are tightly united together… a small, tightly knit family…”

Inseparable in life, they were now to remain unseparated in death.

After midnight on July 4/17, 1918, the entire family, with their doctor and two faithful servants, was brought to the basement of the house of their confinement under the pretext of moving them once again. There they were brutally and mercilessly murdered, the children as well as the adults, under the cover of darkness – for “men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3.19). The Tsar was shot as he stood forward to defend his family. Tsaritsa Alexandra was able to make the sign of the Cross before she, too, fell. The first bullets did not bring death to the youngest ones, and they were savagely clubbed, bayoneted and shot at point-blank range.

Those killed were: the Tsar (born 1868), the Tsaritsa (1872), Olga (both 1895), Tatiana (1897), Maria (born 1899), Anastasia (born 1901), Alexis (born 1904), the Tsar’s physician Eugene Botkin, the Tsaritsa’s chamber-maid Anna Demidova, the cook Kharitonov and the servant Trupp. The sailor Clement Nagorny, who had looked after the Tsarevich since early childhood, and Sergius Sednev, the servant to the Grand Duchesses, both of whom had defended the Royal Family from robbery and insults in Ekaterinburg, were taken away to prison and shot there. Those who were refused permission to stay with the Royal Family at Ekaterinburg, and who were also shot in prison were General Elias Tatishchev and Prince Basil Dolgorukov. The maid-of-honour, Countess Anastasia Hendrikova, and the court teacher, Ekaterina Schneider, were taken to Perm and shot there.

The Romanovs, as history has been able to remove the spin of Soviet Russia, have been put in a different light. Nicholas did not delight in the sufferings of his people – he wished to join them in suffering. They lived in opulence – but they also gave much to their country and much to God. The royal family would often meet trains of troops going to the front in WWI, and hand each soldier, personally, a prayer card.

There are accounts of Alexei, the son of the Czar and a hemophiliac, fighting from his sick bed with a guard who attempted to steal his Chotki, an Orthodox version of the Rosary.

If only all royalty would have had such courage and love for their faith!



5 Responses to “Just, and Firm of Purpose Are We”

  1. gretchen says:

    My husband and I were in Ekaterinburg in September and December 2001 to adopt our third daughter. There was a small wooden chapel on the grounds where the Ipatiev house had been. Outside the chapel was a stone tablet listing the names of the Romanov family members and their attendants. It said something like, "For they so loved Russia that they gave their lives."

    There is now a beautiful church there, Cathedral-on-the-Blood. We had the privilege of seeing its beginnings, but have not been back since it was completed.

  2. Gen says:

    From what I've heard, it's absolutely amazing. I can't find any pictures of the interior, but the exterior is beautiful.

  3. gretchen says:

    I have pictures of the exterior under construction. It was interesting to watch. The building process is different over there than it is here.

    Surfing around, here's what I've found of the interior:$20church$20on$20bloodJPG.JPG;=scaled/media/inside$20church$20on$20blood.JPG&w;=600&h;=450&t;=inside%20church%20on%20blood&l;=1246740265000&x;=./../..#./../../include/url.js

    OK, so now I really want to go back to Russia, but instead I have to get back to work!

  4. Gen says:

    Thanks very, very much for those photos. They were very beautiful. I think it's a true testament to their sanctity, even if they're not Catholic saints.

  5. gretchen says:

    They are saints with a small "s"!

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