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Virtually all Western books about the last Tsar and his Family, and there are hundreds of them, appear to be filled with political prejudice and political agendas, pro-Leninist propaganda, secularist ideology and opinion, virulent anti-religious stereotypes, conjecture and speculation, idly repeated gossip, malice and outright slander, crass mistakes and ignorance, and, quite simply, hatred for everything Russian and, above all, everything Orthodox. Facts figure little in them.

When the Imperial Family was imprisoned in Tobolsk, there appears to have been some plan to free them, organized by a mysterious ‘Brotherhood of St John of Tobolsk’, a forebear of our own St John of Shanghai and a saint who had been canonized through the piety of Tsar Nicholas (1). Perhaps we now need to organize such a Brotherhood once more. It is not that saints need rescuing (the saints rescue us). Rather it would be to rescue mankind from the slander it invents and spreads about the saints. Perhaps one day an Orthodox film-maker will produce and direct a film about the fifty-five days that the Royal Martyrs spent together at the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg from 23 May to 18 July 1918 and present the truth.

Little wonder that when, in 1991, it was claimed that the remains of five members of the Royal Family and their four servants had been found outside Ekaterinburg, many believed that this was just another act of KGB disinformation. As we know, those remains were later reburied in St Petersburg in 1998 in the presence of Boris Yeltsin, who had had the Ipatiev House destroyed over twenty years before in 1977. The Church buried them as victims of the Revolution, without names.

This was simply because there was still no positive identification. The set of ten questions which had been posed by the Russian Orthodox Church still had not been satisfactorily answered. Obviously, the Church cannot accept any human remains as those of the Royal Family without authentication. That would be foolish, especially in the midst of all manner of politicized manipulations in the Russia of the 1990s. Indeed, the doubts of the Church were confirmed when in 2001 Japanese scientists also cast doubt on the DNA identification of the remains.

However it may be, the new remains recovered near Ekaterinburg in July 2007, as announced last week, are now claimed by some to be those of the two missing members of the Royal Family. For all had agreed that the remains of nine bodies had been found in 1991. If those were in fact the remains of five members of the Imperial Family and their four faithful servants (2), then the remains of two other bodies of the Family are missing. Russian forensic experts had claimed at that time that these two missing sets of remains were those of the Tsarevich Alexei and the Grand Duchess Maria, though American experts claimed that they were of Tsarevich Alexei and the Grand Duchess Anastasia. In 1928, one soldier guard, Gregory Sukhorukov, indeed left an account that the bodies of Alexei and Anastasia had been disposed of apart from the others (3).

Whatever the truth, one way or the other, and God will reveal His saints in His own time and only when the world is prepared to honour them worthily, there are a number of haunting ‘coincidences’ in this whole story that we would like to point out:
1. Romanov, son of Roman, can also be understood as New Rome. Under the Romanovs, Moscow did indeed become the New, Third, Rome.

2. The Romanov dynasty began in 1613 at the Ipatiev Monastery, It ended in 1918 - at the Ipatiev House.

3. Tsar Nicholas was born on the feast of the Much-Suffering Job (6/19 May) and
mystically sensed that he was destined to live as Job, saying: ‘I have a secret
conviction that I am destined for a terrible trial, that I shall not receive my
reward on this earth’

4. St Seraphim of Sarov, canonized by the Tsar, had prophesied: ‘I will glorify him
who glorifies me

5. The Ipatiev House was located in Ekaterinburg, which was named after Catherine II of Russia. A German princess, Sophia von Anhalt-Zerbst, who had married a Romanov, Catherine belonged to the Brandenburg dynasty. The doom of this dynasty had been prophesied by a thirteenth century monk, Hermann, who came from the small German town of Lehnin. It was from this town and his prophecy that the mass murderer Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, had taken his pseudonym, for, as he was filled with hatred for the Romanovs, he saw himself as mystically fulfilling the prophecy.

6. The Tsar, the Tsarina and the Grand Duchess Maria arrived at the Ipatiev House on 30 April 1918, Holy Tuesday, in time for their Gethsemane.

7. The Ipatiev House was built on the site of the first Church of the Ascension in Ekaterinburg and a seventeenth-century cemetery. Its address was 49, Ascension Avenue (Voznesenky Prospekt) and was situated opposite the Cathedral of the Ascension. The Tsar was aged 49 when he arrived at the Ipatiev House. Tsar Nicholas was martyred in 1918 and canonized in 1981. The entry into canonical communion of the Patriarchal Church and the Church Outside Russia took place on the Feast of the Ascension 2007. The next day was the Feast of the Much-Suffering Job, also Tsar Nicholas’ birthday.

All the above are what the world calls ‘coincidences’. However, in the Church we do not believe in ‘coincidences’. We believe in the Will of God (4).

Fr Andrew

16/29 August 2007
Finding of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God in 1239


1. Paul Bulygin and Alexander Kerensky, The Murder of the Romanovs, London, Hutchinson 1935, p. 199

2. The fact that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia canonized faithful servants of the Imperial Family who were not even Orthodox should surprise no-one. The Church has always canonized unbaptized martyrs, who are considered to have been baptized in their blood.

3. Suchorukov, 3 April 1928, in Tsentr dokumentatsii obshchestvennykh organizatsii Sverdlovskoi oblasti, Ekaterinburg., f. 41, op. 1, d. 149

4. A purely personal ‘coincidence’, not in any way to be compared with the above: I was born 38 years after the martyrdom of the Imperial Family, but at the time when their burial was terminated, at 6.00 am on 19 July.

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