New Martyrs, Confessors, and
Passion-Bearers of Russia
Emperor Nicholas II and the Royal Passion-Bearers of Russia
From the sermon delivered by St. John
(then Bishop of Shanghai) on July 4/17, 1934, before a memorial service
for the repose of the souls of Tsar Nicholas II and those killed with him.
The Sovereign of Russia was killed under the vaults of the Ekaterinberg cellar, deprived of the royal crown by human insidiousness, but not - by God's justice - deprived of holy anointing... The entire Russian nation is guilty of the spilled blood of their Tsar. Some partook in the murder, others just as blameworthy, approved of it, while still others did nothing to interfere. All are guilty, and truly we must say: "His blood be on us, and on our children" Betrayal, treachery, the breaking of the oath of faithfulness to Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich and all his successors, passivity, coldheartedness, insensitivity - these are the elements of which the Russian people wove the wreath with which they crowned their Tsar...
Now the Emperor has received a Martyr's crown. But this does not justify us, it does not lessen our guilt. In the same way Judas, Pilate, Caiaphas, and those who demanded Christ's death were not justified but even more severely indicted by Christ's Resurrection.
It is a great sin to lift one's hand against God's anointed. When news of Saul's murder was brought to King David, he ordered the messenger to be killed, although the messenger did not take part in the murder but only rushed to bring the news, thereby implicating himself in the king's death. The least involvement in such a sin is not left unpunished.
From the Special Edition of the magazine,
Orthodox America, Vol.II, No.4, 1981:
Very soon after Russia accepted the seed of the Gospel (in the year 988) her soil was sanctified by the blood of the martyrs. The pure young sons of Grand Duke Vladimir, Boris and Gleb, accepted death at the hands of a political assassin in order to save their people from civil war and terrible upheaval. They became sufferers for righteousness (I Peter 3:14); being conformed to the innocent suffering of Christ, they became true Passion-bearers.
As in the beginning of Holy Russia, so at the end: it pleased God to reveal Himself to the Russian people through the innocent suffering of Boris and Gleb; now, in these latter times, He has again unveiled Himself through the purifying suffering of a Tsar, the Anointed of God and supreme Protector of Christ's Church in Russia, Nicholas II...
In 1917, Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow saw in a vision the Saviour speaking to Tsar Nicholas: You see, said the Lord, two cups in my hands: one is bitter for your people, and the other is sweet for you. In the vision the Tsar begged for the bitter cup. The Saviour then took a large glowing coal from the cup and put it in the Tsar's hands. The Tsar's whole body then began to grow light, until he was shining like a radiant spirit. Then the vision changed to a field of flowers, in the middle of which Nicholas was distributing manna to a multitude of people. A voice spoke: The Tsar has taken the guilt of the Russian people upon himself and the Russian people is forgiven.
Nicholas himself once said: Perhaps an expiatory sacrifice is needed for Russia's salvation. I will be that sacrifice. May God's will be done! He had a very strong sense of his destiny as an Orthodox ruler. Although he had an opportunity to flee the country with his family and seek refuge outside Russia, he and his Empress deliberately chose to stay and accept whatever awaited them.
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New Martyrs, Confessors, and Passion-Bearers of Russia
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