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The Life and Death of a Saint. Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia. Her brutal murder by the communists.
The Saint and her murderers.
In Memoriam. Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia.
When we consider the horrors that disfigured the twentieth century, from the holocaust against the Jews to the mass murders committed by Mao Tse Tung, not to forget the dropping of the first atomic bomb, the death of one woman seems like "small change". Yet knowledge of the life of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia, and revulsion at the appalling and gruesome way she met her death, can only fill us with antipathy for those who brought it about. It is fair to say that high on the list of charges that brought Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin) to his residency in Hell must have been his treatment of this saintly lady.
Grand Duchess Elizabeth was the wife of Grand Duke Sergie Alexandrovich. She was born a Princess of Hesse, and a member of the Lutheran Church. She converted to Russian Orthodoxy when she married her husband. She was greatly beloved among the aristocracy and the common people of the Russian Empire, both for her great beauty and her good works among the poor. She was very much in love with her husband.
In February 1905 Grand Duke Sergie was assassinated in Moscow by the Socialist-Revolutionary Ivan Kalayev. Despite being stricken with grief for the loss of her beloved spouse Elizabeth forgave his murderer. She had inscribed the words of Jesus on his tombstone "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" She even visited Kalayev in prison to forgive him in person. She then campaigned for his pardon. That campaign failed and he was sentenced to death and hanged for his crime.
After the death of her husband she retreated from the court, and in 1909 she sold off all of her possessions, right down to her wedding ring, and opened a convent in Moscow, where she devoted herself to prayer and to charitable works among the impoverished inhabitants of that city. Her convent included an orphanage, a pharmacy, and a hospital. She worked tirelessly to help alleviate the sufferings of the people, and she didn't hesitate to enter the greatest slums when she thought she could do some good.
Meanwhile, away from Moscow, the situation in the Russian Empire deteriorated badly. The first world war brought great misery to the country. The government of The Czar Nicholas II was totally unable to cope. In February 1917 The First Russian Revolution brought the overthrow of The Czar, and in October of the same year the unfortunate country fell prey to that bunch of criminals called The Bolsheviks, led by Vladimar Ulyanov (Lenin).
Throughout all this upheaval Elizabeth continued her work in Moscow. But in 1918 her arrest was ordered by Lenin. She was first taken to Perm and later to Yekaterinburg, where she was joined by other members of The Royal Family. Later they were moved to imprisonment in Alapaevsk.
The murder of Grand Duchess Elizabeth by the communists.
On 17th July some members of the secret police, accompanied by some Bolshevik workers arrived at their prison. Whatever money they had left was taken from the prisoners and they were told that they were being transferred to another location. They were accompanied only by members of The Cheka (secret police). About twenty kilometres outside Alapaevsk the carts that carried the prisoners stopped near the pit of an abandoned mineshaft.The Cheka beat all the prisoners before throwing their victims into this pit, Elizabeth being the first. Hand grenades were then hurled down the shaft, but only one victim, Feodor Remez, died as a result of the grenades.According to the personal account of Vassili Ryabov, one of their killers, Elizabeth and the others survived the initial fall into the mine, prompting Ryabov to toss in a grenade after them. Following the explosion, he claimed to hear Elizabeth and the others singing a Russian hymn from the bottom of the shaft. Unnerved, Ryabov threw down a second grenade, but the singing continued. Finally a large quantity of brushwood was shoved into the opening and set alight, upon which Ryabov posted a guard over the site and left the scene.
In October 1918 the remains of The Grand Duchess and her companions were found. It was determined that Elizabeth had died from wounds sustained when she fell into the mineshaft, but she had been able to bandage the head of one of her companions before her death. Her remains were removed, and ultimately buried in The Church of Maria Magdalene in Jerusalem.
Grand Duchess Elizabeth was canonised a saint by The Russian Orthodox Church in 1992.
Some people may consider that the words of condemnation that I used at the beginning of this article against Ulyanov(Lenin) were a bit harsh. Perhaps, as a christian, I should emulate the late Grand Duchess and forgive him his crime. Technically, of course, I do. Nothing would please me any better than to discover that he was granted the grace of repentance before he died. If I am fortunate enough to meet him in Heaven I will gladly shake his hand. But nothing can take away from the fact that in life he was a murderous "scumbag", and he inaugurated a form of government that brought misery and death to untold millions. But, whatever the Judgement of God may be on him, one crime that will forever stain his putrescent memory is that he brought death to a Princess who's sole offence was to help those who were less fortunate than herself, and who's life should be forever held up as an example of heroic virtue, something that can never be said about his.
The life of a Lovely Lady, and a Saint
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