KURSK: July 19, 2013
A Delegation of Clergy and Youth From the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand Participates in Feast-Day Celebrations at Royal Martyrs Church in the Homeland of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of The Sign"
On July 17, 2013, the feast day of Holy Royal Passion-Bearers Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, Tsarevich Alexey, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, His Eminence Metropolitan German of Kursk and Rylsk celebrated Divine Liturgy in a church built in 2010 in their honor.
Joining Vladyka German in the service were Protopriest Oleg Chebanov, Secretary of the Kursk Diocesan Administration and Rector of the Royal Passion-Bearers Church; Protopriest Michael Protopopoff, Dean of Victoria in the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; Protopriest Vladimir Monosilov, Dean of the First Deanery of the Central Region of Kursk; Hieromonk Filipp (Sapronov); and clergymen leading the delegation of the 6th International Conference “Union of Orthodox Youth” and clerics of the Royal Passion-Bearers Church.
The organizers and participants of the youth event, which opened several days earlier at the Korenny Pilgrims’ Center in Kursk, were guests at the services. Clergymen and youth from dioceses of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Australia, Austria, the US, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, as well as the Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, Serbian, Moldovan Transdniestrian and Finnish Churches participated. A unified choir of the conference’s participants sang together with the local “bishop’s quartet” and the parish choir.
At the end of the service, Metropolitan German led a procession of the cross. He expressed his heartfelt greetings to the parishioners and guests. In an inspired sermon, the archpastor noted that the Holy Royal Family, headed by Nicholas II, demonstrated by their lives a great example of Christian virtues. They headed the great host of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, and their podvig serves as an example of lofty Christian morality and patience. The head of the Kursk Metropoliate welcomed the delegation of Orthodox youth gathered in Kursk for the conference and invoked God’s blessing upon them.
“On the 400th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty, not knowing that we would be serving at the Church of the Royal Passion-Bearers,” said Fr Michael, “I brought with me a section of the plaid blanket belonging to Holy Martyr Tsarevich Alexey, made by his august sisters, which he used to cover himself during bouts of hemophilia, which was found in Ipatiev House on July 25, 1918… And I have the great pleasure of giving it as a gift to this church.”
Metropolitan German thanked Fr Michael for the holy relic, which he deems also a gift from the Royal Passion-Bearers, because it is presented on their feast day, and also expressed joy and thanks for the joint service in memory of the martyric death of the Royal Family, a day of such great importance to all Russians.
This feast day was established on August 20, 2000, in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, in the presence of the heads of all Autocephalous Orthodox Churches with the glorification of the Royal Family. The Act of the glorification of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia declared:
“To glorify the Royal Family as Passion-Bearers among the host of New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia: Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, Tsarevich Alexey, Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. In the last Russian Orthodox monarch and members of his Family we see people genuinely striving to manifest in their lives the commandments of the Gospel. In the sufferings endured by the Royal Family during their imprisonment with meekness, patience and humility, in their martyr’s death in Ekaterinburg on the night of July 4 (17), 1918, the light of faith in Christ defeating evil was revealed, just as it shone forth in the lives and deaths of millions of Orthodox Christians suffering persecution for Christ in the 20th century.”
It is worth noting that the members of the Royal Family were canonized not as martyrs (who suffer for direct witness of Christ) but as passion-bearers:
“[They were] emulating Christ, patiently enduring physical and moral sufferings and death at the hands of political enemies. In the history of the Russian Church, such passion-bearers included Righteous Princes Boris and Gleb (+1015), Igor of Chernigov (+1047), Andrei Bogolyubsky (+1174), Michael of Tver (+1319) and Tsarevich Dimitry (+1591).”