In the early morning hours of July 17, a huge procession set in motion from the Yekaterinburg, leading 20 kilometers to the basilica, which was held in honor of the tsar's family murdered 100 years ago.
(Moscow) With a gigantic procession in honor of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia's Christians commemorated the murder of the tsarist family by the Communists.
Blood Basilica in Katharinenburg, built at the site of the assassination
In Katharinenburg in the Ural Mountains, hundreds of thousands of Russians participated in a gigantic procession on July 17, which took place on the anniversary and place of the crime. The procession led to the basilica, which was built in honor of the imperial family at the place of their murder. The basilica keeps relics of the last tsar. The murdered Tsar's family was canonized in 2000 by the Russian Orthodox Church, which recognized their murder by the Communists as a martyrdom.
Katharinenburg (Yekaterinburg) is located about 2,000 kilometers east of Moscow. After renouncing the affairs of state, which took place during the February Revolution of 1917, the Czar was interned with his family in Katharinenburg. There he, his wife and five children were murdered by the Bolsheviks in July 1918. The execution command was led by the Communist of Jewish descent Yakov Sverdlov, who acted on the direct orders of Lenin.
On July 17, the gigantic procession set in motion at 4 o'clock in the morning. On the night of the 16th to the 17th of July the murder was done. One hundred thousand participants were needed alone to carry the 100,000 icons (one icon per person) that were carried along. Countless other believers followed the train of the icons, which covered a distance of 20 kilometers. More and more people joined them, so that the procession took on gigantic proportions.
The procession in which the entire Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church participated was led by the Moscow Patriarch Cyril I. in front of the Basilica, the Patriarch celebrated a Holy Mass in memory of the Tsar's family.
The martyrs of Alapayevsk
Grand Duchess Elisabeth, born Princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, a martyr of Alapayevsk
Already on July 15 in Alapayevsk, Kyril consecrated in the church of the Theodora Icon, an icon of the Mother of God, with whom Tsar Michael I, the first Romanov on the throne of the Tsar, had been blessed. In 1918, the Communists brought some members of the Tsar's family to Alapayevsk. There they were murdered in a mine near the city, also on 18 July. Among them was Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fyodorovna, who had been born as German Princess Elizabeth of Hesse-Darmstadt in Darmstadt. Following the murder of her husband in 1905 by the assassination of a socialist, she divested all her possessions and founded in Moscow the Women's Order of the Sisters of Charity and Mercy and the Martha Maria Monastery, which she herself entered and led as abbess.
After the White Army was able to recapture Alapayevsk briefly from the Red Army, the bodies of the murdered were born and carried on the retreat to the east and initially buried in Beijing. At the urging of her sister Vikotoria of Hesse-Darmstadt, who was married in Britain, they were transferred to Palestine and interred in the Russian Orthodox Mary Magdalene Monastery in Jerusalem in 1921. Their monastery in Moscow was abolished by the Communists and the sisters were deported to Siberia. Since then, the order no longer exists.
In 1998, the mortal remains of the Tzar's family were solemnly buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The then Russian President Boris Yeltsin called the murder "one of the most shameful parts of our history". In 2008, Tsar Nicholas II was rehabilitated by the Supreme Court of Russia and the family recognized as victims of the "political repression of the Bolsheviks".
The worship of the Tsar's family is deeply felt in Russia. It represents a central element of historical continuity as it overcomes the 70 years of communist tyranny and is an aspect of national identity.
On May 25, 2017, the incumbent President Vladimir Putin also venerated the relics of Tsar Nicholas II. The ceremony took place in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.
One century after the massacre, Russia and the world experienced one of the greatest processions of recent history.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi