IN HONOR OF
ALL SAINTS RESPLENDENT IN THE RUSSIAN LAND
THE BOLSHEVIK INTERREGNUM (1917 - 1991) represents a temporary break in the course of Russian history when nation and people were diverted from their accustomed journey by a small band of conspirators inspired by the alien 19th century utopian and this-worldly-perfection ideology of two Germans, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as subsequently augmented by the contributions of Lenin and Stalin who seized the Empire and led it down the evil road of atheistic dialectical materialism and tyranny until its dissolution thirteen years ago. These conspirators, known as Bolsheviks, conceived of a new social and political order based on the dictatorship of the proletariat under the vanguard of the Communist Party. This new order commenced with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 which overthrew and replaced the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky,  During the following five years, a new state called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established and succeeded in destroying its enemies as well as the old order which it replaced. Capitalists, landowners, the old aristocracy and the Russian Orthodox Church were persecuted with vigor and the intent to obliterate them forever. As with its progenitor, the French Revolution of 1789, the Bolshevik Revolution had its hated symbols which it sought to eliminate. Chief among these was the Romanov dynasty which had ruled Russia since the 17th century and, more particularly, the Imperial family of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, and their five children. Their suffering and murder at the hands of the enemies of Christ are dealt with in greater detail elsewhere. In this page we propose, rather, to discuss the impact of their death on following generations up to the present, for in murdering the Imperial family the Bolsheviks succeeded only in creating more enduring images which blossomed after the demise of the Soviet state. The subsequent symbolic rebirth of the Romanovs in the post-interregnum and the means by which the new Russian state and the Russian Church sought to accommodate their "return" will be discussed herein.
JOURNEY TO EKATERINBURG
In the First World War (1914 - 1918) the Russian Empire was allied with France and Great Britain against Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Ill supported by its allies and poorly led by its leadership the Russian Empire suffered several defeats by the armies of the Central Powers. By early 1917 Russia was verging on collapse. On March 15, 1917 Tsar Nicholas II abdicated in favor his brother, Michael, who promptly refused to accept the crown. The Russian Duma appointed Alexander Kerensky as head of the provisional government. The Imperial family was confined at Tsarskoye Syelo near St. Petersburg. On August 13 the family was sent to Tobolsk by order of the provisional government where it was imprisoned in the governor's residence. On November 7, 1917 the Bolsheviks overthrew the provisional government and seized power. In April 1918 the Bolshevik government transferred the Tsar and his family to Ekaterinburg  where they were lodged in a large house requisitioned from Nikolai Ipatiev .  Accompanying the Tsar were four loyal servants, Evgeny Botkin, physician, Anna Demodova, maid, Ivan Haritonov, chef, and Alexis Trupp, attendant.  We shall not dwell long on the 78 days of imprisonment in Ekaterinburg and the murder of the family and its servants except to advise that the subject matter is treated in great detail in the two books referred to in footnote  below.
The murder of the Imperial family and their servants on the night of July 16/17, 1918 by direct order of Lenin, the efforts of the local Bolsheviks to dispose of the bodies, and the Bolsheviks' campaign in the following years to conceal their evil deeds failed to have their intended effects. Down through the dark decades of the Interregnum the word got out. By 1977 the Soviet government was well aware that the site of the Imperial family's murder was becoming a popular place of pilgrimage and veneration by the Orthodox faithful. An edict came down from Moscow to the local gauleiter, Boris Yeltsin (later first president of the post-interregnum Russian Federation) to destroy the Ipatiev House. On the night of July 27, 1977 bulldozers appeared at the site and within three days the house and its foundation were razed and the trash removed to the city dump. Ipatiev House was gone forever, but the memories of the events of July 16/17, 1917 continued to spread. Crucifixes appeared on the razed site, were removed by the Bolsheviks, only to be replaced again by the faithful. Time passed and in 1991 the house that Marx and Lenin built was also demolished and swept into the trash heap of history.
Following the end of the Bolshevik Interregnum, the new Russian state and the remnants of the Orthodox Church, strove and strive mightily to restore Russia to a reasonable successor of its past and to meet the challenges of the future. The state and its institutions were in disarray, the economy collapsed, and piratical capitalist elements had appropriated the state's assets through a process called privatization. Nevertheless, scarce resources were applied to the renovation and reconstruction of palaces and churches; many of the symbols of the Bolshevik regime were removed, and the symbols of the Empire reappeared.  (see our related page, Christ the Savior, at: http://www.byzantines.net/epiphany/christsavior.htm) However, when it came to the rehabilitation of the Romanovs, state and Church proceeded with caution. Before the Church would agree to the interment of the remains of the Imperial family by proper burial in St. Petersburg, their authenticity had to be confirmed by DNA testing. Moreover, there was no consensus in the Holy Synod for recognizing the Imperial family as martyrs.
THE TEMPLE ON THE HILL
With the end of the Bolshevik Interregnum in 1991 and the restoration of the Orthodox Church to its traditional role in Russian society, popular agitation for creating on the site of the Ipatiev House a suitable memorial to the last Romanovs grew steadily. A state commission was organized consisting of engineers, architects, contractors, historians, local and state politicians and representatives of the Archdiocese of Ekaterinburg to draft plans and to raise money for the construction of the magnificent temple which would crown Vosnesensky Hill. In December 1997 the provincial governor ordered commencement of construction of the memorial church dedicated to All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land. To the extent possible, building materials and construction personnel were drawn from local sources.
The architecture of the proposed temple is in Russian/Byzantine style characteristic of the last several decades of the Romanov dynasty and favored by the last Tsar. The temple has five golden domes and encompasses a total space of 29,700 square feet. The structure contains two churches and a patriarchal annex. The ground floor is occupied by the memorial Church on the Blood, a museum dedicated to Tsar Nicholas II and his family, a memorial hall containing plaques of the Romanovs as well as bronze reliefs of the Romanov rulers, and also a conference hall large enough to accommodate 200 people. The iconostasis of the ground-floor church is of porcelain made by the craftsmen of a local porcelain factory. The upper church, dedicated to All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land, has an area of 9,900 square feet and is adorned with an iconostasis made of white marble, 100 feet long and 37 feet high. The structure also possesses a canopy erected over the very place of execution which can be viewed from above. On July 17, 2003, exactly 85 years after the murder of the Tsar, his family and servants, the new temple was consecrated by the archbishop and bishops of the Ekaterinburg province assisted by hierarchs from all over Russia and some from abroad.
CONCLUSION AND COMMENTARY
We marvel at the dedication and determination of the Russian state and Church to move forward with the construction of the memorial church on the site of the Ipatiev House even before Tsar Nicholas and his family had been canonized viz. glorified by the Church. Their canonization was not a foregone conclusion at the time that the construction of the temple on the hill began. In fact much controversy surrounded the issue for several years. Even after the scant remains of most family members had been identified through DNA tests, old Bolsheviks continued to object to "bloody Nicholas". Others claimed that the Tsar was no saintly person and was murdered solely because he was a Romanov, hated symbol of the monarchy, rather than for his Orthodox faith. In spite of the Holy Synod's ambivalence and reluctance to offend some members of the Duma, popular support for canonization continued to grow, encouraged by the media and by many of the clergy all over Russia.
At this point we want to point out to our readers that saints are not made by prelates assembled in solemn conclave, but by the grace of God and by the popular acclamation of the faithful. In the Early Church and in the Orthodox Churches today, one is recognized as "holy" - svyati, hagios, sanctus - by the will and declaration of the faithful. The role of the Church is to confirm this popular acclamation through a process called canonization or glorification. By the end of the 20th century the Holy Synod acquiesced to the will of the people and announced its intention to proceed with the canonization of the Tsar and his family as "holy passion bearers" along with thousands of others who suffered and perished as victims of Bolshevik persecution. The canonization took place in August 2000 in the newly restored Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, presided over by Patriarch Alexis II, the hierarchs of Russia and from many other countries. See the page, Christ the Savior, at: http://www.byzantines.net/epiphany/christsavior.htm
The query is often raised by many why the Russian state and Church  bothered to "rehabilitate" the Romanovs and to restore old palaces and churches and build new ones when both were impoverished and hard pressed to come up with enough money to meet necessary demands. Repeatedly one hears the justification expressed in terms of atonement and repentance. We wonder, however, whether atonement and repentance for the sins of the Bolshevik Interregnum tell the whole story or whether there may be other motives not readily apparent such as the inherent need of Russians to recover and restore themselves as Russians and as Orthodox after seven decades of denial and oppression by a tyrannical regime inspired by an alien doctrine. The reassertion of narodnost viz Russian ethnicity and the resumption of their identity as Russian Orthodox Christians seem strong motives to explain the willingness to expend scarce resources in restoring the symbols of the past and building new ones.  What can be more Russian than the Romanov dynasty and the Russian Church? While the Romanovs represent the past, the Church is past, present and future as Russians seek their own resurrection from the spiritual death which was Marxism/Leninism. Thus Russians are finding their way back to themselves, singing, shouting, and crying out as they proclaim in the words of the third Resurrection antiphon:
"Let God arise and let those who hate Him
The icon of ALL SAINTS IN THE RUSSIAN LAND was received from the Moscow Patriarchate. Its official Web site is at: http://www.mospat.ru Photographs of the Church on the Blood and of its consecration are courtesy of the Pravoslavnaya Gazeta Ekaterinburg, official organ of the Diocese (Eparchy) of Ekaterinburg. Its Web site is at: http://orthodox.etel.ru Other information is from the Ekaterinburg Eparchy at: http://www.ekaterinburg-eparhia.ru We express our gratitude to Ms Darya Zlatorunskaya of the FOND MIRA Travel Agency in Ekaterinburg whose Web site is at: http://fondmira.ru for her assistance in preparing this page.
We are indebted to the sisters of Novo Tikhvin Womens' Monastery in Ekaterinburg for the copy of the above icon which they wrote for use in the Church on the Blood in Ekaterinburg. Among the many missions of the sisters of Novo Tikhvin is the writing of icons on commission. Please visit their Web site at: http://www.sestry.ru/eng Digital copies of this icon in higher resolution may be obtained from the Webmaster whose email address is on the front page of this Web site.
1) The Russian Empire's involvement in World War I as ally of Great Britain and France against the Central Powers of Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire was a disaster. Just nine years after its ignominious defeat on land and sea by the Japanese in the Far East, the Empire entered another war on a grander scale against the better equipped and better led armies of the Central Powers. Warned by many that another war might bring down the monarchy and at the head of a poorly equipped army backed by insufficient military industrial capacity and primitive infrastructure, Tsar Nicholas barged ahead with a war which he could not win. At best he was incompetent; at worst foolish. In any case he was certainly not an evil man. Ill supported by its allies and under ceaseless attacks by its enemies, the Empire's limited resources and inadequate leadership resulted in repeated defeats in the field and its eventual collapse. Tsar Nicholas abdicated on March 15, 1917 and a new provisional government led by Alexander Kerensky was formed. Its decision to continue the unpopular war against the Central Powers and inability to resist the internal attacks of the Bolsheviks resulted in the violent overthrow of the provisional government on November 7, The new Marxist/Leninist regime envisioned a completely new social order based on the dictatorship of the proletariat under the leadership of the Communist Party during which the enemies of state would be annihilated and the new order established beginning first in the Soviet Union and then carried to the rest of the world by the revolution of the toiling masses. That would eventually be followed by a stateless, classless society in which all the material needs of mankind would be met in abundance.
2) EKATERINBURG is the third largest Russian city, administrative center of the Sverdlovsk oblast and capital of the Ural Federal District region and also an archiepiscopal see. It is presently highly industrialized, rich in minerals and other raw materials. The climate is continental, i. e. very cold in winter and warm in summer. The city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in the 18th century and named after his wife, Catherine.
3) NIKOLAI ALEXEIVICH IPATIEV, the man, is overlooked in the reference materials dealing with the last
Romanovs. He was born in Moscow in 1869, the son of Alexei Ipatiev, a well known architect. He was educated in a military
gymnasium and later entered an officers' training academy to study military engineering, following which he was assigned
to the task of railroad construction in the Urals where he participated in the building of the Ekaterinburg - Perm
railroad. After he settled in Ekaterinburg, he organized his own railroad construction business. Ipatiev purchased a large
two-story house located on Voznesenski Hill, the highest point in Ekaterinburg. When the Bolsheviks came to power, he
sought to accommodate himself to the new reality but apparently failed. The Bolsheviks requisitioned his house to
imprison the Tsar, his family and servants. Following their deaths on the night of July 16/17, 1917 the Bolsheviks offered
to return his house but horrified by the events which took place there he and his family chose instead to flee abroad to
Prague where he lived and worked as a builder until his death in 1938. There is no evidence that N. A. Ipatiev
participated in any way in the Imperial family's murder except to involuntarily provide the place of their imprisonment
and murder. Of course, he could not have anticipated that his house or the site thereof would later serve as the place
for the construction of the splendid Temple on the Blood of the Romanovs.
4) On the fateful night of July 16/17, 1917 eleven people died - seven Romanovs and their four loyal servants. We wonder why the servants have never appeared in the iconography and imagery of the event. Perhaps they are remembered in the dedication of the church to All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land.
5) We commend our readers to the following source materials:
6) Before the Bolshevik Revolution the three pillars of Russian society were traditionally regarded as a) Samoderjhaviye - autocracy; b) Narodnost - Russian ethnicity, and c) Pravoslaviye - Orthodoxy. Samodjerjhaviye has yielded to Demokrasiya but the other two pillars remain very much extant.
7) This is the portion of the iconostasis right of the Royal Doors located in the lower church.
8) BELLS OF REPENTANCE - smaller bells for use in the church domes blessed by the Bishop. The large bells have not yet been made. The Russians are fond of their clanging church bells, particularly those cast from melted-down Lenin statues.
9) In this footnote we want to address the charges of xenophobia levied by many against the Russian Church.
The term "xenophobia" means nothing more than the fear or hatred of that which is foreign or strange. Throughout their
thousand-year history the vast and open Russian lands have been attacked and invaded repeatedly by foreign armies -
Mongols, Tatars, Turks, Germans, French, Swedes, Poles, Lithuanians - some of which bore with them alien religions and
ideologies, the natural consequence of which has been a dread of that which emerges from beyond the Russian frontiers. The
appearances of armies of Catholic Teutonic knights, Catholic Poles and Catholic Lithuanians in Russian lands have rendered
the terms "Katolyik", "Unyat" and "zapadnii" pejoratives east of the Njemen River. The Russian Church as the Church in and
of Russia is a national Church coexistent with the Russian state and people. Consequently it has shared this dread.
Accordingly, one can ill afford to overlook the fact that national heroes and military commanders in Russia are sometimes
glorified, to wit: St. Alexander Nevsky who defeated the invading Swedes in 1240 in the Battle of the Neva and the
Teutonic Knights in 1242 in the Battle of the Lake, and St. Dmitry Donskoy who vanquished the Mongols in 1380 at the
Battle of Kulikova.
10) We take issue with the pundits, whose business is looking backwards, and who opine that Putin's Russia is reverting to its recent past a) by calling to account its neo-capitalists, apparatchiki from the old Soviet nomenklatura, who appropriated the state's assets through a process called privatization viz. piratization during the Yeltsin years; b) by reining in its free-wheeling provincial satraps who rule their turfs like potentates; c) for continuing the struggle against Islamic terrorism out of Chechnya which threatens the security of the state and the welfare of the people, and d) by reminding the Ukrainians not to forget that the three Russias - Velika-, Mala- and Byela- share the common land space of ancient Rus since the time of St. Vladimir the Great, speak mutually intelligible Eastern Slavic languages and share the same religion, culture and historical experience for a millennium, and thus should seek to accommodate one other's anxieties about the meddling of outsiders in pursuit of short-term gains. For most of the 20th century the Russians were on a wild troika ride which ended in their country's despair and ruin. It is unlikely that they want to return to that experience. Yet the present Russian society remains haunted by the ghosts of its Bolshevik past and the growing decline in social cohesion occasioned by the widening gap between the poverty of the masses and the crass materialism, gaudy lifestyles and arrogant power mongering of the newly minted elite fueled by Russia's oil-stoked economy growing at 7% per year. We do not know Russia's future but suggest that it will not be West European and certainly not American. Most likely it will be quite Russian and the Church, as it the pre-interregnum past, will play a significant role.