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DIOCESE OF EASTERN AMERICA AND NEW YORK: September 28, 2006
Priest Victor Boldewskul, Returning from Russia, Tells of the “Royal Days” in Ekaterinburg

Two years ago, Epiphany Parish in Boston made an offer to Archbishop Vikenty of Ekaterinburg and Verkhotursk to donate bells to his diocese in Alapaevsk, where Holy Martyrs Elizaveta and Varvara were killed. Proposed at first were three medium-sized bells. All the parishioners and worshipers of Epiphany Church were given the opportunity to donate towards these bells and include prayer commemoration slips for their living and reposed relatives and friends, to be read at the Monastery of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia located next to the mine shaft where the Holy Martyrs met their end.

Donations streamed in quickly, and when it came time to order the bells, the Ural Mountains foundry Pyatovka, where the bells were ordered, offered to add another five smaller bells. Since donations were quickly accumulating, that was not a problem. Also, one family donated one large, bass bell. As the order was finalized, the foundry itself donated two small bells. Thus, what began as a donation of three bells grew to eleven.

The large bell, weighing 620 kilograms, is dedicated to the Royal Martyrs and to SS Elizaveta and Varvara. It was ordered in memory of Prince Belosselsky-Belozersky, who played a great role in the establishment of Epiphany Parish in Boston, and his wife Svetlana. The second bell, donated by Epiphany Church, is dedicated to the feast day of the Baptism of the Lord. The third bell was dedicated to Royal Martyr Alexei Nikolaevich, donated by the Parish School. A fourth bell dedicated to the Protection of the Most-Holy Mother of God was donated by the Protection Sisterhood at Epiphany Church.

The bells were delivered to the monastery in early June in time for their consecration on the feast day of SS Elizaveta and Varvara. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, the Deputy to Parish Rector, Mitred Protopriest Roman Lukianov, Priest Victor Boldewskul, who was in Moscow at the time, was sent to Ekaterinburg and Alapaevsk. Upon his return, Fr Victor told us the following:

“On Sunday, July 16, I was taken to a midnight service at Church-on-the-Blood. As I approached the church, I was stunned to see hundreds of people sleeping on the sidewalk and side streets, awaiting the beginning of services. The enormous church, recently built on the site of Ipatiev House, was already overfilled at 11 pm. Service began at about midnight with a matins, followed by Divine Liturgy. The services were conducted by Archbishop Vikenty and Metropolitan Timofei of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, along with some 150 diocesan and visiting clergymen from all over Russia. Services ended at about 5 o'clock in the morning. The people received the Holy Gifts from ten chalices, which lasted for 45 minutes. After Liturgy, Archbishop Vikenty called upon everyone to follow the procession of the cross to Ganina Yama [mine-shaft], where the bodies of the Royal Martyrs were first taken and disposed of. The procession departed at 5 am, headed by Archbishop Vikenty and priests wearing their phelons. It is 13 miles from Church-on-the-Blood to Ganina Yama. Vladyka Vikenty walked at a fast pace in front, holding an icon from Jerusalem containing a part of the Cross of the Lord and leading the singing, which was joined in by the priests and the people. Fifteen thousand pilgrims participated in the procession. When we reached a small hillock, I turned and saw that the procession stretched for at least two miles. After four hours, at about 9 o'clock, the procession reached Ganina Yama and a moleben was served there to the Royal Martyrs. The monastery located near their initial burial has seven small, beautiful log chapels in honor of the Royal Family.

The next day, July 18, in the chapel near the place where Holy Martyrs Elizaveta and Varvara were killed, hours were read, followed by Divine Liturgy. At the end of the hours, the bishops and all the priests emerged from the chapel and approached the bells, which were set on a beautiful carpet. A deacon intoned a litany, Archbishop Vikenty read the prayer of blessing the bells, and Metropolitan Timothy sprinkled them with holy water. Vladyka Vikenty, and then Hegumen Moisei, spoke touching words of gratitude to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which had glorified the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia in 1981. They also thanked Epiphany Parish, its clergymen and parishioners.”

Everyone who heard Fr Victor's words joyfully and endearingly sensed the spiritual unity of the Church in Russia with the Church of Jerusalem and the Russian Church Abroad. May the prayerful peal of the bells, now already hanging in place, be our common voice of repentance before the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.

To see a video of the consecration of the bells, visit www.bostonrusschurch.org

Mitred Protopriest Roman Lukianov,
Rector of Epiphany Parish in Boston, USA