MOSCOW: February 25, 2005

Press Conference Held on the Visit of the Holy Relics of SS Elizaveta and Varvara to Russia

The Fund of St Andrew the First-called will soon publish a documentary on the visit to Russia of the holy relics of Holy New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna and Nun Varvara, as reported by the Fund's President, Alexander Melnik, during a press conference held on February 24 in Moscow.

During the last seven months, an unprecedented procession of the cross traveled through 61 dioceses both in Russia and the countries of the CIS.

"She has not been forgotten; in the hearts of the Russian people, she lives on. While the entire world is moving further from Christ, these New Martyrs are saving the Russian land from this," said Bishop Michael of Boston, who escorted the relics throughout the entire procession.

Bishop Alexander of Dmitrovsk, Vicar of the His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Alexy, expressed the opinion that "the visit of the relics has done more [for the two parts of the Russian Church—ed.] than any negotiations."

The large reliquary with the right hand of St Elizaveta will return to Jerusalem on February 28, whence it embarked in June of last year to Russia, and then will be taken to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York.

A smaller reliquary containing the relics of the saints will be given to Marfo-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow when the monastery is completely restored. "This reliquary itself is a holy item," remarked Bishop Michael. "The reliquary is made of the boards from the coffins in which the honorable relics of the saints were transported from Bolshevist Russia through China and Egypt to the Holy Land. The reliquary holds not only the relics of the holy women, but also earth from Darmstadt, where Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna was born, soil from Gethsemane, where SS Elizaveta and Varvara were interred since 1921, and soil from Alapaevsk, where they were crowned with martyrdom. In addition, the reliquary is adorned with a medallion given to the Grand Duchess by Emperor Nicholas II on the day of her conversion to Orthodoxy."

The large and small reliquaries will be held at Christ the Savior Church, where a midnight service will be held on the last day of their visit, concluding in a Divine Liturgy, during which many clergymen and laity will partake of the Holy Gifts.