A Press Conference held on the Visit of the Holy Relics of St Elizabeth and St Barbara to Russia
The Fund of St Andrew the First-Called will soon release a documentary film on the visit to Russia of the holy relics of Holy New Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Nun Barbara, as reported by the Fund’s President, Alexander Melnik, during a press conference held on 24 February in Moscow.
Over the last seven months, an unprecedented procession has travelled through 61 dioceses, both in Russia and the countries of the CIS.
‘She has not been forgotten; she lives on in the hearts of the Russian people. While the whole world is moving further from Christ, these New Martyrs are saving the Russian land from this’, said Bishop Michael of Boston, who escorted the relics throughout the entire procession.
Bishop Alexander of Dmitrovsk, Vicar of the His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexey, expressed the opinion that: ‘The visit of the relics has done more (for the two parts of the Russian Church - ed.) than any negotiations’.
The large reliquary with the right hand of St Elizabeth will return to Jerusalem on 28 February, from where it embarked for Russia in June last year, and will then be taken to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign in New York.
A smaller reliquary containing the relics of the saints will be given to the St Martha and St Mary Convent in Moscow when it has been completely restored. ‘This reliquary itself is a holy object’, remarked Bishop Michael. ‘The reliquary is made from the planks of the coffins, in which the precious relics of the saints were transported from Bolshevik Russia through China and Egypt to the Holy Land. The reliquary holds not only the relics of the holy women, but also earth from Darmstadt, where the Grand Duchess Elizabeth was born, soil from Gethsemane, where St Elizabeth and St Barbara had been interred since 1921, and soil from Alapayevsk, where they were crowned with martyrdom. In addition, the reliquary is adorned with a medallion given to the Grand Duchess by Emperor Nicholas II on the day of her conversion to Orthodoxy’.
The large and small reliquaries will be kept at the church of Christ the Saviour, where a midnight service will be held on the last day of their visit, concluding in the Divine Liturgy, during which many clergymen and laity will partake of the Holy Gifts.
(From the Official Website of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia)