Elisabeth | Elizabeth | Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna of Russia

● Orthodox Remembrance Day: Sunday closest to January 23, July 5, August 22
● Name means: God is fullness (from Hebrew)
● Grand Duchess, founder of a religious order, martyr
● Born on November 1, 1864 in Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany
● Died on July 18, 1918 in Alapayevsk near Yekaterinburg, Russia
Elisabeth, the sister of the Russian Tsarina Alexandra, was born on November 1, 1864 as
Princess of Hesse and near the Rhine. She was part of the Russian imperial family through her
marriage to Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, fifth son of Tsar Alexander II. Elisabeth was a
woman of extraordinary beauty as well as grace and selflessness. She was a devout Christian and
devoted herself to charity, particularly helping the needy and the sick.
After her husband was assassinated in 1905, Elisabeth devoted herself completely to her deep
faith and started her work in the diakonia. She founded a community of sisters, the “Community
of the Sisters of the Cross of Love”, dedicated to helping the needy and the sick. In 1910, the
first 17 Sisters of Elisabeth were ordained. Two years later there were already 60 members when
the Bolshevik government forcibly dissolved the community. In this short time, however, they
were able to set up a hospice, an orphanage, a small hospital with an operating room, an
outpatient clinic, a library and other social facilities. In 1913 alone, 139,443 meals were given to
the needy.
When Elisabeth was visiting a slum in Moscow, the police asked her to stop because she – as the
tsarina’s sister – could not be protected. But Elisabeth replied that she was in God’s hands and not
in the police force. Politically, Elisabeth played a more reserved role. However, she was known
to support Prime Minister Stolypin’s reform plans and to be outspokenly critical of Rasputin’s
influence on the court and state. She even wanted to free her sister, the tsarina, from his power.
After the Bolsheviks seized power on the 3rd day of Easter week 1918, Elizabeth was arrested
and imprisoned in the town of Alapaevsk, north of Ekaterinburg. Her fellow sister Varvara was
allowed to accompany her. In the night of 5./18. On July 1, 1918, they were murdered by local
Bolsheviks by throwing them down a shaft some 30 m deep. Elisabeth assisted the other victims
until she too died.

After the invasion of the whites, the opponents of the revolution, the bones of Elisabeth and other
murdered people were recovered from the shaft. The priest monk Serafim was able to save the
bones of Elisabeth and Varvara and bring them to the Russian Orthodox Church in Beijing. At
the intervention of her older sister Victoria, an English marquise, the coffins of the two nuns
were brought to Jerusalem on a British cruiser in 1920/21 and buried in the church on the Mount
of Olives.
The solemn canonization of Grand Duchess Elisabeth was carried out in 1992 by the Synod of
Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Elisabeth’s memory has endured to this day
and a men’s monastery was founded at the place of her murder, which wants to honor her
memory and her work in diaconia. In 2003 the women’s convent Martha-Marien was
re-established in Moscow.