The Desecration of the Relics of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna in Jerusalem

Hat Tip to A.A.

(PortalCredo) An Open Letter to the ROCOR(MP) Hierarch Metropolitan Hilarion.

With sorrow in my soul, I nonetheless decided to describe what I witnessed at the Gethsemane Convent on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The Abbess of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow, Natalya Moliboga, flew into Jerusalem in the first week of June, 2009. She met with Hegumena Elizabeth, the Abbess of the Gethsemane Convent. She has tried in the past to convince the Hegumena to give her a large number of relics of Elizabeth Feodorovna for the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow, explaining that the Mayor of Moscow, Yuriy Luzhkov, has demanded to take all of the relics of Elizabeth Feodorovna.

In the middle of June, Yekaterina suddenly arrived in Jerusalem by private jet. She is a close friend of Patriarch Kirill and the former wife of the Russian oligarch Vasiliy Anisimov. She claims the Patriarch is her spiritual father. Bishop Mikhail (Donskov) of Geneva arrived with her in the plane. He declared that as a bishop of the ROCOR(MP), he has a blessing from Archbishop Mark (Arendt) of Berlin and Germany, who cares for the Russian convents in the Holy Land, to transfer a significant part of the relics of Elizabeth Feodorovna to the nuns of the convent. All attempts by Hegumena Elizabeth to contact Archbishop Mark were unsuccessful. He would later say that “unknown forces” disconnected his cell phone and he was unable to use it for five days.

The two demanded that they be given the head of the martyred Saint Elizabeth Feodorovna. The Hegumena and the nuns categorically refused to fulfill this demand. Bishop Mikhail (Donskov) insisted that since he had received the blessing of Archbishop Mark, they should voluntarily give what is asked to avoid any conflicts with Mayor Luzhkov. Yekaterina Anisimova also insisted that transferring the relics was a personal request of the Patriarch. The most amazing thing was that neither Bishop Mikhail nor Anisimova could provide Hegumena Elizabeth any document or letter signed by Mayor Luzhkov, Patriarch Kirill, or at least Archbishop Mark.

After many hours of heated and harsh negotiations, Hegumena Elizabeth eventually did agree to let them have a piece of Elizabeth Feodorovna’s arm, on the condition of a written agreement, which was drafted and signed. The agreement states that no one from the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent or any representative of the Moscow Patriarchate will ever again request all or any part of the relics of the Grand Duchess. The agreement also states that this matter will never be discussed again.

The visitors kept saying that Mayor Luzhkov will continue to use any means he can to transfer all of the relics of Elizabeth Feodorovna to Moscow. They said that he has all the necessary paperwork. When asked by the nuns how Bishop Mikhail happened to arrive in the plane with this delegation, he answered that they “just happened to meet me in Rome and took me along.” It was an unbelievable tragedy for those nuns who were present and witnessed to see how the piece of the forearm was broken off and taken away as the agreed-upon relic. The situation was so tense, that it seemed a major uproar would break out. It was very difficult for the nuns to remain calm. Outside the walls of the Gethsemane Convent, three black Mercedes waited and the delegation later got in and left with the relic piece. Along the way to the airport, they were joined by the Abbess of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent, Natalya Moliboga, who had remained hidden in the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission the whole week in anticipation of these events.

It is well known that the centennial of the founding of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow will be celebrated in September of this year. One of my spiritual daughters, who had been in Moscow, told me that a crypt for the relics of the Grand Duchess has already been prepared in the Church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent. Apparently, it contains the vestments of the Grand Duchess and her pectoral cross. Even though it is known that these items were not on her, when Sokolov, the investigator, exhumed the body of Grand Duchess from the mineshaft near Alapaevsk. My calls to the bishops of the ROCOR(MP) were not answered. I hope that the Hierarch of the ROCOR(MP), Metropolitan Hilarion, will still reply to these unfortunate events, though these hopes are fading. I believe that a desecration of the relics of Elizabeth Feodorovna
has occurred on the eve of the celebration of centennial of the founding of the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent, and that it can be compared only to her murder in 1918.

A ROCOR(MP) Priest, Holy Land, July, 2009