On April 29-30, 2018, pannikhida services were performed in many cities of Russia and the Russian diaspora in memory of Emperor Alexander II, the Tsar-Emancipator, who was born 200 years ago.
In St Petersburg, the international committee “200 Years of the Tsar-Emancipator,” initiated by the Russian Imperial Union-Order and Alexander Historical Society organized a litiya at the crypt of the Emperor in SS Peter and Paul Fortress. Archimandrite Alexander (Fedorov), Rector of the fortress church, led the service.
Flowers and wreaths from the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and other ecclesiastical and social organizations were lain on the coffin.
The righteous Tsar was commemorated during the great entrance at Divine Liturgy at St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Howell, NJ, in accordance with an ukase by the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR (the church, dedicated to the patron saint of Tsar Alexander II, was first erected in the form of a wooden chapel in 1936). With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, the parishioners of the cathedral made a procession of the cross with the singing of Paschal canons to the neighboring Park of Glory after Liturgy. At the monument to the Tsar-Emancipator, Protopriest Boris Slutsky performed a pannikhida. Carried during the procession were a Tikhvin “Royal Icon” of the Mother of God, which had once belonged to Holy Empress Alexandra the Passion-Bearer, and an icon of St Alexander Nevsky.
Marina Valentinovna von Jahr, East-Coast representative of the Russiam Imperial Union-Order then placed a tricolor wreath on the monument as a symbol of the grateful Russian peoples. Fr Boris then outlined the achievements of the Tsar-Emancipator in repealing serfdom in Russia: “This was a great breakthrough in the history of the Russian Empire. And for this, and not only this, we are thankful to Tsar Alexander II.”
On the return trip to the cathedral, the worshipers broke out with the singing of “God Save the Tsar,” the official anthem of the Russian Empire. The worshipers were then treated to Paschal kulich and cheese pascha at the hall of the Diocesan Center.
All churches of the Russian Church Abroad also prayed for the repose of Tsar Alexander II on this day.