This year on the 4/ 17th of July, we mark the 100th year anniversary of the murder of the Russian Royal family of the Romanovs, whom Lenin's Bolshevik revolutionaries brutally slaughtered in Ekaterinburg during the summer following the October Revolution. Emperor Nikolai, Empress Alexandra, Prince Alexei, and Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia were killed in a completely unjust and horrible manner. This crime was not merely a political assassination, but rather something much greater, for it brought with it apocalyptic consequences not only for Russia, but for the whole world. As St. John of Kronstadt said, “The greatest menace in the world who will appear in the last times – the Antichrist – will not be able to appear among us because of the autocratic imperial power which restrains the shameful, senseless teachings of the Godless.”
Indeed, since then until now, we can see how all sorts of evils have been unleashed from the abyss. Since the removal of a pious Orthodox autocratic ruler, the anointed one of God, Christianity, Christian morals and Christian values have become nearly illegal. Meanwhile, through the Godless, God-fighting democratic, liberal and communist anti-governments, evil grows and advances in broad strides, preparing the way for the coming of Antichrist.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the murder of the Russian Royal family,
His Grace Bishop Akakije of Uteshiteljevo was invited to commemorate it with a Holy Liturgy at the Convent of Our Lady of Lesna, an historical center of the Russian Church Abroad in Western Europe.
The Lesna Convent, led by its first abbess, St. Catherine (Countess Eugenia Efimovsky) of Lesna, was forced to flee Russia after the revolution, first to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and then, after the Communist takeover at the end of WWII, to France. The convent is now located in Normandy.
Abbess Catherine of Lesna, during her time in Serbia, renewed Serbian women’s monasticism by sending her nuns from her main convent of Hopovo to found and renew many monasteries throughout all of Serbia.
For more than a century, Lesna Convent has been the guardian of the wondrous, miraculous icon of Our Lady of Lesna, a great holy artifact of pre-Revolutionary Russia and the Russian diaspora.
The wonder-working icon of Our Lady of Lesna
The Convent of Lesna was founded in Russia with the blessing of St. John of Kronstadt and St. Ambrose of Optina, and enjoyed the patronage of the right-believing Emperor Nikolai II himself. In Serbia, the convent was protected by His Royal Majesty, King-Martyr Alexander Karadjordjevic and the Serbian Patriarch-martyr Barnabas. In France, the convent was under the care of St. John of Shanghai who took upon himself the responsibility of finding a place where it could settle. It was the favorite monastery of the third First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, St. Philaret, Metropolitan of New York, who frequently used it as his summer residence.
On the 100th anniversary of their murder, the celebration of the feastday of the Royal Martyrs began with a festive All-night Vigil on the eve of the feast, and continued with a Holy Hierarchical Liturgy on the day of the feast itself. His Grace Bishop Akakije of Uteshiteljevo led the celebration of the holy service with the co-celebration of several Russian priests and Priest Jovan Ristic, the parochial priest at the Uteshiteljevo episcopal seat. Abbess Efrosinia of Novi Stjenik and the nuns of Uteshiteljevo also attended.
Bishop Akakije and Mother Macrina, Abbess of Lesna, holding one of Lesna’s spiritual treasures, a portrait of Tsar Nikolai II complete with his signature which he personally gave to Catherine, First Abbess of Lesna (Countess Efimovsky)
The All-night Vigil and Holy Liturgy were truly something special, both because of the prayerful spirit of all present and their heartfelt devotion to the Royal Martyrs, and thanks to the renowned, compunctionate singing of the Lesna nuns.
His Grace Bishop Akakije gave a very powerful sermon about the terrible, eschatological consequences of this crime, which, as His Grace explained, can only be understood in its deeper dimensions as an occult sacrifice of the holy and pure Royal family, offered to Satan, that ritually inaugurated the present era of lawlessness. At the end of the sermon, he addressed the Holy Royal Martyrs, begging them for their help to deliver us from the godless authorities, to establish again a right-believing monarchical government, to give us repentance, and loyalty to God and to monarchy as an institution established by God.
The feastday ended with a festive banquet of love in the monastery trapeza, followed by fellowship over Russian tea for the rest of the day in the monastery bookstore.