“Their Destiny Was Complicated, and Their Way to Russia Was Long”
Unique Romanov Relics Brought to the Martha-Mary Convent
“For the first time, ninety-one years after the murder of the Royal Family in Ekaterinburg and of members of the Imperial House in Alapaevsk, in Russia, unique materials are presented for a wide audience in an exhibition in the Mary-Martha Convent in Moscow. Their destiny was complicated, and their way to Russia was long,” reads a press release from Holy Trinity Seminary.
“In January 1919, according to order N36 of Admiral A. V. Kolchak, Supreme Ruler in Siberia, General M. K. Diterikhs was ordered to deliver from Ekaterinburg all items and objects found during the investigation of the Royal Family. In the beginning of February 1919, the general brought these items to Omsk for the disposal of the Supreme Ruler. Admiral Kolchak, dissatisfied with the previous investigation, on February 7 charged N. A. Sokolov, investigator of cases of particular importance in the Omsk district court, to continue the investigation of the murder of the Royal Family. The items brought to Omsk were supplemented by items delivered by Major General Golitsyn from Alapaevsk, which had belonged to Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Princes John, Igor and Konstantin Konstantinovich, and Vladimir Palei, who had been killed there. All materials were packed into chests, suitcases, and boxes without an inventory of contents. Of the items collected in Ekaterinburg, selected first of all were those items and documents which had been found during inspection of the Ipatiev house, the Popov house, a rubbish pit in the court yard of the Ipatiev house, in the course of research and examination in the area of the ‘Ganina hole,’ in the rooms of the former regional council, and in the post office. All these items and documents represented material and documentary evidence for the case, and therefore they became objects of detailed inspection, study, and description. After examination for the purpose of the investigation, the majority of items, including those which had the greatest material value, were put on new inventory lists, packed again, and sealed.
“Due to the approach of Red Army, it was decided to send the items of the Royal Family to Europe. According to the testimony of P. Zhiliar, General M. K. Diterikhs handed over the boxes to Miles Lampson, British Supreme Commissioner in Siberia, with the request to deliver them to England. According to the diaries of Sydney Gibbes and the testimonies of M. K. Diterikhs and N. A. Sokolov, the boxes were shipped by train to Lampson, who was heading to Vladivostok. In March 1920, only twenty-none of fifty boxes were loaded onto the British ship ‘Kent’ and the steamship ‘Аrteus.’ Upon their arrival in the Great Britain, the boxes were committed to Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna.
“According to the memoirs of Matilda Kseshinskaia, all the small objects found on the bodies of the Grand Dukes killed in Alapaevsk ‘were sent by Admiral Kolchak to the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, who sent them to members of the Royal Family.’ A portion of the items was offered by the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna to the ROCOR Memorial Church in Brussels in memory of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II after its consecration in 1950. Among them were: a Bible presented to the Imperial Heir, the Tsarevich, by the Empress; a cross with icons and rings found in the mine in Ekaterinburg; an icon of St. John the Baptist which was with the Royal Family in the Ipatiev house; an epaulet of the Sovereign, and his overcoat.
“In spring 1948, the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna decided to give a part of relics of the Royal Family to Archpriest Michael Polsky, rector of the London parish, who had arrived in England ten years previously and was then preparing to move to San Francisco. In her letter to Fr. Michael of March 16/29, 1948, she asked to keep secret the fact of transfer and the place of the preservation of the relics until ‘that time when, with the fall of the godless power in Russia, it will become possible to tell our Holy Church about them.’ In 1949, Fr. Michael Polsky was elevated to the rank of Protopresbyter, and he died in 1960. After his death, Archpriest Nikolai Dombrovsky, the senior priest of the Cathedral of the Joy of All Who Sorrow in San Francisco, carrying out the will of the recently departed, handed over the collection to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville in February 1962, where it has been carefully stored all these years.”
Among items of the exhibition:
- An icon of the Savior found in the Ipatiev house;
- A wonder-working icon of Mother of God of Tambov, found in the Ipatiev house;
- A beige-green military jacket of Tsarevich Alexei;
- Blue breeches of the Leib Guard of the shooting regiment of the guards’ cavalry division, belonging to Emperor Nicholas II;
- Red (private) epaulets belonging to the Tsarevich Alexei;
- A plate with the Royal arms from the ordinary Royal service from Ekaterinburg;
- A fragment of a blanket knitted by the Great Duchesses for the Tsarevich Alexei, found in the Ipatev house;
- An apostolnik (nun’s veil) of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fedorovna, found in Alapaevsk;
- A canvas napkin for presentation of bread and salt with brushes and an embroidered inscription on all sides: “Matushka Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, do not refuse to accept bread and salt according to the old Russian custom, from the peasants of the Neivo-Alapaevsk region, true servants of the Tsar and fatherland”;
- Two chalice covers and an aer embroidered by the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fedorovna;
- An apostolnik (nun’s veil) of the nun Barbara (Iakovleva) with the embroidered initials “V. I.,” found in Alapaevsk; - A letter of the Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna to the rector of the London parish, Archpriest Michael Polsky, about the handing over of a part of the items of the Royal Family from Ekaterinburg.
Source: Russkaia linia (www.rusk.ru)