The night of July 16/17 is a tragic date in the history of Russia. On this day in Yekaterinburg, the Russian Tsar Nicolas II, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, their children as well as their faithful servants were brutally murdered. The Church “on the Blood” in honour of All Saints who have Shone Forth in the Russian Land, has now been built on the site of the crime. And the tragic night annually gathers thousands of pilgrims to this site from all over Russia and other countries for prayer, reports the News Agency of the Yekaterinburg Diocese.
The tradition of commemorating the martyred Royal Family began long before their canonization as Royal Martyrs. In 1992, Archbishop Melchisedek (Lebedev) of Sverdlovsk and Kurgan first gave a blessing to celebrate a service here and hold a procession of the Cross to the site of the destruction of their holy relics at Ganina Yama (“Ganya’s Pit”).
On these days of the Royal Martyrs, in spite of the torrential rain (the first such in 22 years) tens of thousands of Yekaterinburg residents, pilgrims from all the corners of Russia and from abroad gathered to honor the Holy Passion-Bearers.
Celebration of Small Vespers, Vigil service and Divine Liturgy on the night of the martyrdom of the Royal Family on the porch of the Church on the Blood was headed by permanent member of the Holy Synod Metropolitan Vikenty of Tashkent and Uzbekistan, Metropolitan Nikon of Ufa and Sterlitamak, Metropolitan Kirill of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye, Bishop Markell of Beltsy and Falesti, Bishop Nikodim of Edinet and Briceni, Bishop Innocent of Nizhny Tagil and Serov, Bishop Nicolas of Salavat and Kumertau, Bishop Ambrose of Neftekamsk and Birsk, Bishop Methodius of Kamensk-Uralsky and Alapayevsk with several hundred priests and deacons concelebrating.
Before the Divine Liturgy Metropolitan Kirill addressed the sea of people gathered in front of the Church on the Blood with his archpastor’s speech on the Holy Royal Martyrs, especially stressing the deep connection between the podvig (feat/ascetic struggle) of St. Sergius of Radonezh (the Church celebrates the 700th anniversary of his birth in 2014) and the feat of the Holy Royal Martyrs.
During the singing of troparia at the Little Entrance “Eternal memory” was proclaimed to the Royal Passion-Bearers’ servants, martyred together with them on July 17, 1918.
After the Litany of Fervent Supplication a prayer for peace in the Ukraine was offered up.
At the Litany of the Departed special prayers were offered up for His Beatitude the newly-reposed Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan) of Kiev and All the Ukraine; the servants of the Royal Family, who remained faithful to them even to the death; the victims of the Moscow underground railway (subway/Metro) accident; and those slain in the fratricidal war in the Ukraine.
Because of the extremely large number of communicants the clergy of the Yekaterinburg Diocese gave Holy Communion from 100 chalices.