Orthodox America


   Holy Martyr Tsarevitch Dimitry


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In 1580 the Russian Tsar Ivan IV (also known as Ivan the Terrible) married Maria Feodorovna Nagoi. They had a son whom they named Dimitry. Two years after the birth of Dimitry, Ivan IV died and the throne passed to Ivan's oldest son Feodor. However, the actual power passed into the hands of the council of boyars (duma) who did not like the .Nagoi clan. They exiled Maria Feodorovna and her young son Dimitry; to, Uglich.

Because Tsar Feodorwas still young and in poor health, he needed help in ruling. The boyar Boris Godunov helped him. Godunov realized that when Tsar Feodor died, the Tsarevitch Dimitry would ascend the throne. Boris was afraid that the Nagoi clan might then pay him back for exiling them by killing him. At the same time Boris was very ambitious and wanted the throne for himself. Therefore he tried to have the young Tsarevitch poisoned, but God preserved the righteous one. Then Boris sent several of his men to Uglich to kill the Tsareyitch..

Suspecting the evil plan's of Boris, Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna began to keep a close watch over the Tsarevitch and did not allow. him out of the palace. The murderers then persuaded his nursemaid to bring the righteous one outside. There one of the murderers "slit the righteous one's throat, down to the windpipe."' The murder took place on May 15,1591 when the young Tsarevitch was not yet 9 years old.

The body of the righteous one was placed in a coffin and taken to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. In 1606 the tomb of the Tsarevitch was opened and his relics were found to be almost entirely whole and incorrupt. At that time many who were suffering from various diseases received healing at this tomb and the accounts of these miracles were written down God glorified this innocent child who suffered as a martyr because he was meant to be one of God's anointed rulers.

Condensed and simplified for children by Basil Voytan. (Original text in "Orthodox Life", Vol 27, No.1.)

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