Nicholas II of Russia

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Icon of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II of Russia (Courtesy Ivanovo Monastery)

The holy and right-believing Emperor Saint Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanov was the last reigning Emperor (commonly called "Tsar") of Russia at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Together with his wife, Alexandra Fyodoronova, formerly Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstad, and their children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia and Alexey, and their servants Doctor Evgeni Botkin, cook Ivan Kharitonov, attendant Aleksey Trupp and attendant Anna Demidova, they are recognized as Passion-bearers by the Russian Orthodox Church. His feast day is on July 4.

Contents

Life and death

Born on 6 [17] May 1868, the day of the Holy Job the Long-Suffering, St Nicholas was the eldest son of Crown Prince Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Alexander III) and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorvna (the future Empress). He received an excellent education under the supervision of his father, speaking fluently Russian, English, French, German, and Italian, and learning Russian and world history, Russian literature, and the art of warfare.

In 1884, St Nicholas met the future Empress St. Alexandra, then Princess Alice Victoria Helen Louise Beatrix von Hessen-Darmstadt, at the wedding of the latter's sister, Grand Duches-Martyr St Elizabeth Fyodorovna with the Emperor's uncle, Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich. Princess Alice was a daughter of Prince Ludwig von Hessen-Darmstadt and Princess Alice and a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England. The two became good friends, a friendship that later grew into love. In 1894, St Nicholas received a blessing from his father to wed Princess Alice on the condition that she become Orthodox. On October 20, 1894, Emperor Alexander III died at the imperial palace in Livadia, Crimea. On the next day, Princess Alice was received into the Orthodox faith and given the name Alexandra Feodorovna. The two were married in a low-key ceremony on November 14, 1894.

In February 1917, during the February Revolution, Nicholas reluctantly abdicated the throne, hoping that doing so might save the nation some violence. After the Bolshevik (October) revolution, he and his family were exiled to Siberia, where they were detained under house-arrest. On July 16, 1918, the family was lined up in the basement and shot. The bodies were buried in an unmarked grave.

The remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in the Catherine Side Chapel of the Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 1991, in Yekaterinburg, Sibera, their bodies were exhumed. DNA testing confirmed that they were indeed the Romanovs.

In 1998, with Boris Yeltsin in attendance, most of the Royal Family was finally laid to rest with proper ceremony. However, neither the Russian Orthodox Church nor the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia formally recognized that the remains found near Yekaterinburg were those of the Royal Family.

Photograph of St. Nicholas the Tsar-Martyr.

Glorification

Nicholas and his family were glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1981 but this was a hotly debated decision. Both within and outside of Russia there were those who claimed that Nicholas' reign was weak and prone to extravagence and indifference to the plight of Russia's needy. On the other hand, there was widespread popular devotion to Tsar Nicholas among those who claimed that he was called of God to lead his people at a difficult time in history and did so to the best of his abilities. The religious devotion and piety of the family is well documented and not seriously contested.

In 2000, after some 8 years of study, the council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church voted unanimously to recognize Nicholas, Alexandra and their five children as saints.

Hymns

Troparion (Tone 1)

Most noble and sublime was your life and death, O Sovereigns;
Wise Nicholas and blest Alexandra, we praise you,
Acclaiming your piety, meekness, faith, and humility,
Whereby ye attained to crowns of glory in Christ our God,
With your five renowned and godly children of blessed fame.
O passion–bearers decked in purple, intercede for us.

Kontakion (Tone 2)

Royalty and martyrdom were joined together, O blessed ones,
In your death for righteousness and right belief, O wise Sovereigns,
Nicholas and Alexandra, with your five children.
Hence, Christ our God counted you worthy of thrones in Heaven;
And with twofold crowns of glory,
You reign forever, adorned with grace divine.

External links


Succession box:
Nicholas II of Russia
Preceded by:
Alexander III
Emperor of Russia
1894-1917
Succeeded by:
monarchy abolished
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