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July 17, 2008

Memorial Church of the Saviour on the Blood, Ekaterinburg

In the darkness of the early hours of Thursday 17 July some 35,000 people took part in a religious procession in Ekaterinburg. This was the 90th anniversary of the murder of the Imperial Family. According to the Diocese of Ekaterinburg, the procession was preceded by an all-night vigil at the Memorial Church of the Saviour on the Blood, which is built on the precise spot where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were martyred. There was not enough room in the church for all of the worshippers, many knelt in the street and the area directly in front of the church was filled with a vast throng.

Exactly at midnight the bells rang out, and a liturgy was served by bishops of the Patriarchal part of the Russian Church together with bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). ‘Thousands of people received the Eucharist on this night of prayer and repentance at this holy place of Christ, a place soaked with the blood of the martyrs. Pilgrims came from all over the esarth, Orthodox Christians came here to the Urals to confess, receive absolution and ask forgiveness from the Holy Royal Martyrs’, a spokesman of the diocese told journalists. Throughout the solemnities the Memorial Church was floodlit.

The services were broadcast in their entirety to the region, and those who could not enter the packed church prayed in the open. The liturgy concluded at 4.00 am, after which the bells rang out again, signalling the beginning of a religious procession to Ganina Yama. Thousands of people filled the streets of Ekaterinburg in the darkness of the pre-dawn morning, ready to walk the twelve miles to Ganina Yama (the original burial site of the Royal Martyrs). On Thursday, the feastday of the Holy Royal Martyrs, liturgies were celebrated in all the parishes of the Patriarchal Church and ROCOR.

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