Orthodox America

New Martyrs' Relics Uncovered   

Troparion (Tone 4)

In that meekness, humility and love made their abode in thy soul, thou didst diligently minister to the suffering, O holy passion-bearer Princess Elizabeth, and with faith didst endure suffering and death for Christ with the Martyr Barbara. With her do thou pray for all that honor thee with love.

The latest issue of the Russian language magazine, "Orthodox Russia, to reach us contains an article on the recent uncovering of the relics of the Grand Duchess and her cell attendant, which had been resting in a crypt chapel of the Russian Orthodox Convent in the Garden of Gethsemane. Each of the martyrs was found to have been buried in five coffins, the outer one of oak containing two further zinc caskets, a wooden one, and an inner one of metal

When the inner casket of the Grand Duchess was opened, the chapel was filled with a sweet fragrance, which was said to be like that of honey and jasmine. Although the chapel was open and well-aired, this fragrance remained.

The clothing of the martyrs was found to be damp, although the atmosphere at Gethsemane is very dry. The material was as if some liquid had been poured over it, so moist was it, although hitherto the coffins had been sealed. When a small portion of the relics, which were only partially corrupted, was placed in a glass-topped receptacle, the glass became moist, and it was found that the sacred relics of both the martyrs exude a fragrant myrrh.

There has been some question as to whether the Grand Duchess had received the monastic tonsure. When her sacred relics were uncovered, they found her paramand (monastic cross), thus confirming that she had received the monastic tonsure. It is believed that she was tonsured a nun by Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, the first of the hierarchs to die as a martyr.

Portions of the relics were taken to New York for the Glorification ceremonies at the Synodal Cathedral on November 1st. And soon after the opening of the coffins the Russian Convent at Gethsemane was visited by the Most Blessed Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, Diodorus, who prayed before the sacred relics, saying: "Undoubtedly these are holy martyrs, and through their prayers the Lord will aid the Church of Jerusalem and the Russian Church."

(Reprinted from "The Shepherd", Vol. 11, No. 14; London)

A most eloquent account of the life of this remarkable Grand Duchess and New Martyr written by the late Metropolitan Anastassy, appeared recently in Orthodox Life (Sept.- Oct. , 1981). He describes the outstanding traits of her noble- character:

..... She was a rare combination of exalted Christian spirit, moral nobility, enlightened mind, gentle heart, and refined taste. She possessed an extremely delicate and multi- faceted spiritual composition and her outward appearance reflected the beauty and great ness of her spirit..