Friday, October 12, 2018

St. Elizabeth the New Martyr

The Orthodox Church is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the relics of Holy Grand Duchess Elizabeth on October 11, 2018.

In February 1905, the terrorist Ivan Kalyaev killed her husband, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. The carriage he was in had not yet driven far from their home when it exploded, and the Grand Duchess heard it and ran out of the house.

On the blood-spattered snow, she saw fragments of clothing and the carriage, and of the body of her husband, whom she said goodbye to only moments earlier. The Grand Duchess personally collected the body parts of her husband and put them on a stretcher. Three days later, she came to Butyrsky Prison to tell the arrested terrorist that she forgave him.

She brought a Gospel to the jail cell along with an icon, and asked the terrorist to repent, to spare his own soul. For the first time since the death of Sergei Alexandrovich, a smile appeared on her lips when she was told that Kalyaev put the icon she gave him under his pillow.

The terrorist was later hanged despite the appeal of Grand Duchess Elizabeth to pardon him. Thirteen years later she would likewise ask the Lord to have mercy on the drunken Red Army soldiers who struck her with their rifle butts and threw her into an abandoned mine near the city of Alapaevsk.

The relics of the Grand Duchess were discovered on September 28/October 11, 1918, in the Alapaevsk mine and brought to Jerusalem through China by Hegumen Seraphim (Kuznetsov), former abbot of Belogorsky Monastery in the city of Perm. The crypt containing the saint’s relics are housed in the “Royal” Church of St Mary Magdalene, Equal-to-the-Apostles, in Gethsemane Convent of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in East Jerusalem.

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