Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Abp. of Canterbury on centenary of St. Elizabeth's martyrdom

(ROC) - On 18 July 2018, the centenary of the martyrdom in Alapayevsk of the Venerable Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth, the head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, sent a letter to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. The message reads, in particular: “A grand-daughter of Queen Victoria and kinswoman of the blessed martyrs Nicholas, Alexandra and their family, St Elizabeth was a model of Christian charity, service and fortitude.”

As the Archbishop of Canterbury noted in his letter, there is a statue of the Venerable Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth on the west front of Westminster Abbey, among other martyrs of the twentieth century.

The head of the Anglican Communion mentioned that during his visit to Moscow in 2017 he had visited Ss Martha and Mary Convent founded by Grand Duchess Elizabeth. “My party was greeted with true hospitality and I was moved by the devotion of the sisters in their ministry with orphans and disabled children,” the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in his letter.

“Your Holiness, today we commemorate St Elizabeth and, yesterday, the Russian Imperial Family. As I recall them and their witness in my prayers I pray also for you, for your ministry, for the strengthening of the relationship between our churches,” Archbishop Justin Welby wrote in conclusion, addressing the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth was a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England and the older sister of the Empress Alexandra (July 4). After marrying Grand Duke Sergei she converted to the Orthodox faith, though this was not required by her position. After her husband was assassinated in 1905, she took monastic vows and withdrew from the world, founding the Convent of Saints Mary and Martha. There she served as superior, devoting her time to prayer, fasting, and caring for the sick and the poor.

During the Russian Revolution, she was seized by the God-hating Bolsheviks and taken to the Urals, where she and several with her were martyred by being thrown alive down an abandoned mine-shaft. When the fall did not kill them, soldiers threw grenades down the shaft to complete their work. Saint Elizabeth was singing the Cherubic Hymn when she died.

The Nun Barbara, her cell-attendant, voluntarily followed St Elizabeth into exile and received martyrdom with her. Their relics were recovered and taken at great risk to China, then to Jerusalem, where they were deposited in the Convent of St Mary Magdalene. When their reliquaries were opened in 1981, their bodies were found to be partly incorrupt, and gave off a sweet fragrance.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Archbishop Welby consulted his Anglican episcopal colleague, Nick Holtham, Bishop of Salisbury, before writing this missive?