Elizabeth the New Martyr

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Template:Infobox Biography

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna as a nun after her husband's death

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna of Russia (Russian: Елизавета Фёдоровна), née Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Elisabeth Alexandra Luise Alice of Hesse and by Rhine (24 February 186418 July 1918), was the wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia, the fifth son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia and Maria Alexandrovna (née Princess Marie of Hesse-Darmstadt). She was the second child and daughter of Grand Duke Louis IV of Hesse and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, a daughter of Queen Victoria. She was also the elder sister of Alexandra Fyodorovna, the last Empress of Russia. Elizabeth was affectionately called Ella by her family.

In the winter of 1878, diphtheria swept through the Hesse household killing Elisabeth's youngest sister and mother, Princess Alice. Elisabeth was not in Hesse at the time and was the only member of the family not affected by this outbreak.

Elisabeth once caught the eyes of her elder cousin William II but Elisabeth flatly rejected him and instead married Grand Duke Sergei of Russia in June, 1884.

She and her husband, Grand Duke Sergei, adopted and raised the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovitch, and his sister Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna after their mother died during Dmitri's birth.

After Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia was assassinated, while on service in the Kremlin by Socialist-Revolutionary, Ivan Kalyayev, on February 18 1905, Grand Duchess Elizabeth became a nun, and gave away her jewelry and sold her most luxurious possessions. With the proceeds she opened the Martha and Mary home in Moscow, and for many years helped the poor and the orphans in Moscow to foster the prayer and charity of devout women. Here there arose a new vision of a diaconate for women, one that combined intercession and action in the heart of a disordered world. In April 1909 Elizabeth and seventeen women were dedicated as Sisters of Love and Mercy. Their work flourished: soon they opened a hospital and a variety of other philanthropic ventures arose.

In 1918, the Communist government exiled her to Yekaterinburg and then to Alapaevsk, where she was violently killed by the local Bolsheviks on July 18 1918, along with Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich Romanov; the Princes Ioann Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich and Vladimir Pavlovich Paley; Grand Duke Sergei's secretary, Fyodor Remez; and Varvara Yakovleva, a sister from the Grand Duchess Elizabeth's convent. They were herded into the forest, pushed into an abandoned mineshaft and grenades were then hurled into the mineshaft. Her remains were buried in Jerusalem, in the Church of Maria Magdalene.

She was glorified by the the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1981, and by Russian Orthodox Church as a whole in 2001 as New-Martyr Elizabeth. Her principal shrine is the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent she founded in Moscow. She is one of the ten 20th-century martyrs from across the world who are depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey, London.


  • Her Grand Ducal Highness Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine (1864 - 1884)
  • Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna of Russia (1884 - 1918)


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