Author Topic: Alexandra's Religious Character  (Read 15061 times)

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Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2013, 12:14:35 PM »
The Poems Sent to A. V. Syroboyarsky by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna

On p. 104 of his “Skorbnaya Pamyatka”, A. V. Syroboyarsky put this photograph of some of the gifts that he had received from Her Majesty and the Grand Duchesses:



Seen here are:

A) Three prayer cards by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna:

1) The top left one reads: “For in Thee have I hoped, O Lord; Thou wilt hearken unto me, O Lord, my God.” (Psalm 37:5.)

2) The middle one: “Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.” (A petition from the litany which is part of many Orthodox church services.)

3) The top right one: “Who so trusteth in the Lord, blessed is he.” (Proverbs: 16:20.)

B) Framing the gifts is an embroidered belt with the text of the 90th Psalm: “He who abides in the help of the Most High…”
(Russian mothers and wives usually gave such a belt to their sons and husbands as they went off to war.)

C) Eight medallions given by Empress and Grand Duchesses in person in Tsarskoe Selo, or later sent by them from Tobolsk, among which are:
— at the top, a commemorative pin of Her Majesty’s hospital with the monogram of “A. O. T.”
— next to it, a small gold swastika pin, given by Her Majesty for good luck
— the central, large medallion is of the Mother of God of the Sign
— to the right of it, a small enameled egg with the Cross of St. George
— to the left, a medallion of St. Seraphim
— and one of the others is of St. John Maximovich of Tobolsk

D) the gifts rest on a small notebook which the Empress had given to A. V. Syroboyarsky containing poems and inspiring passages which Her Majesty had copied out — 170 pages in all.

It is not known for certain when the Empress transcribed these poems, or when precisely she gave the notebook to A. V. Syroboyarsky. It is possible that Her Majesty presented it to him before the Revolution, while he was a patient in her hospital. Or perhaps she sent it to him while the Imperial family was still under arrest in the Alexander Palace. In a letter to A. V. Syroboyarsky from Tobolsk, of March 27–30, 1918, the Empress wrote: “Soon it will be a year that you have had the little brown book. Do you read from it from time to time, or do you already know it all by heart?” A couple of the poems reproduced by A. V. Syroboyarsky in his book were indeed mailed to him separately from Tobolsk.
It should be mentioned here that GARF has a notebook of poems and book excerpts by Empress Alexandra Feodorovna from 1906 to 1916 (f. 640, op. 1, d. 312). Perhaps she made a duplicate for A. V. Syroboyarsky.

The poems themselves, in English translation, can be found at the final link below. Originally they formed one of the appendices to E. E. Alferieff’s Russian collection of the Letters from Captivity.
http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/books.html?sku=95

But, now that we have found so many more letters, we may be forced, for reasons of space, to exclude this chapter from our proposed book.
http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php?topic=16969.0

Some may find the poems to be a bit too sentimental or maudlin, but we nevertheless, wanted to share them with others, since, as Mr. Alferieff expressed it so well: “they add another brush stroke to the spiritual portrait of the Empress.”

(We make no claim to poetic talents, but the translations do convey at least the meaning of the originals.)

http://www.saintannas.com/Archived_Docs_HTM/Appendix2PoemsToSyroboyarsky.pdf
инок Николай

Offline Inok Nikolai

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2013, 12:19:56 PM »
The Spiritual Books Belonging to the Imperial family

Another appendix to E. E. Alferieff’s collection of Letters from Captivity contained a detailed description of several of the spiritual books which the Imperial family had taken with them into exile. These descriptions are supplemented by a selection of passages which Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and Grand Duchess Tatiana Nicholaevna had underlined in those books.

If one recalls under what dire circumstances these citations were made, they appear all the more eloquent and poignant.

http://www.saintannas.com/Archived_Docs_HTM/APPENDIX3ImpFamSpiritualBooks.pdf
инок Николай

Offline edubs31

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2013, 04:05:06 PM »
Fantastic stuff Inok. I'll be digging through this shortly!
Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right...

Offline griffh

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2014, 10:54:50 AM »
Though the last post on Bob's thread was 4 months ago, I still wanted to share another example of Alix's love of the Mother and Child Icon.

In my upcoming article on Alix, I review her earlier work for the betterment of the Russian people and one of her earliest accomplishments was the creation of her Orthopedic Institute in St. Petersburg which was opened in 1906. It included a chapel which was decorated with an Icon by Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin who at the time, had been "discovered" by the architect R. F. Meltzer in of the Art Nouveau style. Petrov-Vodkin was studying at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and was studying under Valentin Serov, Isaak Levitan and Konstantin Korovin. He had just returned from Munich where he had studies with Anton Ažbe who died in 1905 and was one of his last students. Ažbe had trained the "big four" Slovenian impressionists (Rihard Jakopič, Ivan Grohar, Matej Sternen, Matija Jama) and a whole generation of Russian painters (Ivan Bilibin, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Igor Grabar, Wassily Kandinsky, and Dmitry Kardovsky.  Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin remained in Russia after the Revolution and after his death in 1939 was forgotten by the Soviets until the 1960's and is now considered one of Russian's painter, yet not one of the websites on his work credits the Icon he created for Empress Alexandra's Orthopedic Institute. As well, even seasoned historians who go to St. Petersburg, pass by the Art Nouveau styled structure at 5 Alexander Park completely unaware that it was the Emrpress's Orthopedic Hosptial, Clinic, and Research center.  In 1988 the RR Wrede Orthopedic Institute, as it is now called, moved to its new location at Baikova e. 8, St. Petersburg. I quietly celebrated it's 100th anniversary on 14 August 2006.



The Empress’ Orthopedic Hospital and Chapel, 5 Alexander Park, St. Petersburg, opened 1906. (Chapel at far right)



Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin’s, symbolist Icon of Our Lady and Child, taken from old canonical work, Amazing Eyes Watching the Mother of God of Light and Sorrow. Majolica tiles, Doulton, London, 1904 .


Close up of Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin’s, Icon of Our Lady and Child. 


Offline Romanov_Fan19

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2014, 09:47:58 PM »
what was her opinion of other Faiths   ect

Offline Превед

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2014, 06:44:02 AM »
what was her opinion of other Faiths   ect

And the question: Did her childhood in Hesse have anything to do with her being tolerant or prejudiced? Considering the fact that while the grand-ducal family, elite and majority in the Grand Duchy of Hesse was Protestant, ca. 1/3 of the population, mainly in Rheinhessen, was Catholic, something which created a certain political friction (AF was born in the middle of Bismarck's Kulturkampf) and alienation (a biography of Werner Best, the Nazi Governor of Denmark and a native of Darmstadt and Mainz mentioned that there was no close relationship between the Catholic Rhine-Hessians and the grand-ducal court in Darmstadt.)
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline griffh

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2014, 09:37:36 AM »
This seems like the closest thread title under which I should post this.

This is one of my favorite stories about Empress Alexandra Feodorovna:

******************

A True Fairy Godmother

The following incident from the life of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna took place in 1914, before the War. The Imperial Family was spending the summer in Livadia. The Empress used to like very much to take walks by herself; and for this reason she would drive out of Livadia in an open carriage; after going a few miles she would get out of the carriage and walk on foot in the company of one of her ladies in waiting. Always modestly dressed — in a plain summer dress, sandals and without a fancy hat — she would sometimes go down to Yalta, drop by some church in order to pray unnoticed by others.

This she also did on the day about which I am now going to recount. The Empress stopped by the Autsky Church, prayed for a while and put some candles by the holy icons. In the church there stood a group of very poorly dressed people who had come to baptize a child. The priest had already put on his vestments, but the people evidently were awaiting someone and thus he did not begin the service. The Empress had already intended to leave when the priest approached her and asked her to take the place of the terribly late godmother. The Empress kindly agreed, and taking the child in her arms she stood together with the child's father, a poor shoemaker. To the question directed to the Empress concerning how she would like the little girl to be called, she answered simply: “Alexandra”. And then, in the course of the service she performed everything that is required of sponsors, i.e. together with the shoemaker she walked around the font three times, holding the child in her arms, in accord with the Church typicon.

After the baptismal ceremony, the Empress jotted down simply in the metrical book of the Autsky church: “Alexandra Romanova”. In parting, she shook the hand of everyone who had come for the christening, and having asked the address of her goddaughter, she set out on foot. The next day, an imperial coach drove up to the poor house of the shoemaker, the father of the newly-baptized, which was on the outskirts of Yalta, and the lady-in-waiting who had accompanied the Empress the day before brought Shurochka (little Alexandra) an entire trousseau and for her parents a gift of 500 rubles from the Most-august godmother.

Up to the Revolution the Empress, no matter where she was living, not only remembered her goddaughter, but also took care for her and for all her many brothers and sisters, the children of the poor shoemaker. Of course, when the Revolution broke out, one can surmise that Shurochka — the Imperial goddaughter — as everyone called her, and her whole family had to suffer much on account of her father’s spiritual relationship to the Russian Empress.

This is, of course, far from being the only incident told me by the eyewitness of it, my sister-in-law, who was that lady-in-waiting who had the good fortune of accompanying the Empress and being present with her at the baptism of the shoemaker's child. The Empress Alexandra Feodorovna was the incarnation of modesty and of feminine angelic goodness, and her good deeds she strove to do unnoticed by others.

N.V. Khvostova, Addis-Ababa 1958

**********

Oh, how I would like to have been a mouse in the corner — to see the look on that shoemaker's face when the imperial carriage pulled up in front of his house the next day!

Natalia Vladimirovna Khvostova was the wife of Ivan Sergeyevich Khvostov (1889-1955), an officer in the Semeonovsky Regiment. I. S. Khvostov is known in Ethiopia for having translated the Napoleonic Law Code into Ethiopian. He was also on the government commission to draw up the modern laws of the kingdom. In his free time, he wrote poetry.

I still have not been able to determine the name of N. V. Khvostova's sister-in-law, the lady-in-waiting.

Many years ago we translated this account from the back of a sheet from one of those trear-off calendars which the Russians love so much.
But now we can't find where we "filed" the calendar sheet, so we cannot yet furnish the original Russian text for this account.
We hope to come across it again some day.



It is so important to hear the truth about the Empress's Orthodox ethos and is so in keeping with the spirit of her war relief work.

Thank you Father Nicholas for sharing this beautiful story of Empress Alexandra's gentle Christian character with all of us.
 
Happy holidays... 

Offline griffh

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2014, 09:43:44 AM »
I just posted a new page on this topic on the main menu of the site.  It's by Vladimir Gurko and very interesting, I think.  I hope you enjoy it.

At the same time I posted another page from Gurko on Nicholas and ruling...

Bob

Bob, somehow or other I could not find the article by Gurko, but I did find an article Religious Character of Alexandra Feodorovna, from Nicholas Romanov - Life and Death by Yuri Shelayev, Elizabeth Shelayeva and Nicholas Semenov under the heading the general heading Palace Personalities.

I would really love to read the Gurko article. Thanks so much and happy holidays... 

Offline Jeremiah

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2017, 04:19:40 AM »
Hi,

I’m wondering whether the following words of Alexandra can be confirmed as undoubtedly authentic. They are from Nicholas Romanov - Life and Death by Yuri Shelayev, as printed by Bob in his article. Here is the quote:

“So when I see a metropolitan coming in to see me, his silk robe rustling, I ask myself: what's the difference between him and elegant high-society ladies?”

I’m expressing this thought in the context of Orthodox spirituality, according to which criticizing the hierarchs of the Church is considered to be a very serious spiritual offence. Especially for Alexandra, who was a diligent researcher of the works of the Church’s Fathers, to say something like this would be really strange. The Church Fathers, and Orthodox literature in general, is very clear on this. I’m sure Alexandra must have read and known about it. And, furthermore, I don’t believe that a spiritually cultivated soul, like the one Alexandra was, would hold such ideas for clergy, and even more for hierarchs.

Offline Helen

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2017, 05:50:35 PM »
This is one of my favorite stories about Empress Alexandra Feodorovna:

******************

A True Fairy Godmother
...
N.V. Khvostova, Addis-Ababa 1958

**********
Natalia Vladimirovna Khvostova was the wife of Ivan Sergeyevich Khvostov (1889-1955), an officer in the Semeonovsky Regiment. I. S. Khvostov is known in Ethiopia for having translated the Napoleonic Law Code into Ethiopian. He was also on the government commission to draw up the modern laws of the kingdom. In his free time, he wrote poetry.

I still have not been able to determine the name of N. V. Khvostova's sister-in-law, the lady-in-waiting.
According to www.vgd.ru, Ivan Sergeyevich Khvostov (1889-1955) was a son of Sergey Alekseevich Khvostov (1855-1906) and had a sister Ekaterina, who was a freylina and ‘chef’ of a hospital in the capital.


"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline Helen

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2017, 06:49:53 PM »
“So when I see a metropolitan coming in to see me, his silk robe rustling, I ask myself: what's the difference between him and elegant high-society ladies?”
I’m expressing this thought in the context of Orthodox spirituality, according to which criticizing the hierarchs of the Church is considered to be a very serious spiritual offence.
Was it criticism? I have always understood this line as evidence that she was aware that expensive elegant gowns and silk robes were just outward appearences; that one should not be overawed by such gowns or robes or other luxury goods; what matters is the thoughts, words, and acts of people, be they high-society ladies or metropolitans.
"The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916"  -  http://www.bod.de/index.php?id=296&objk_
"Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig and Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine in Italy - 1893"

Offline Превед

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2017, 07:04:20 PM »
I’m expressing this thought in the context of Orthodox spirituality, according to which criticizing the hierarchs of the Church is considered to be a very serious spiritual offence. Especially for Alexandra, who was a diligent researcher of the works of the Church’s Fathers, to say something like this would be really strange. The Church Fathers, and Orthodox literature in general, is very clear on this. I’m sure Alexandra must have read and known about it. And, furthermore, I don’t believe that a spiritually cultivated soul, like the one Alexandra was, would hold such ideas for clergy, and even more for hierarchs.

Well, she totally mocked the Orthodox hierarchy by making an uneducated, lowly strannik with no official qualifications whatsoever her unofficial court chaplain and acting spiritual adviser, so I can imagine the Orthodox hierarchy were rather pissed in their silk robes even without that comment!
Березы севера мне милы,—
Их грустный, опущённый вид,
Как речь безмолвная могилы,
Горячку сердца холодит.

(Афанасий Фет: «Ивы и березы», 1843 / 1856)

Offline Jeremiah

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Re: Alexandra's Religious Character
« Reply #27 on: August 06, 2017, 02:00:55 PM »
Helen: I agree with you. The inner content of one’s heart is what God sees, and Alexandra knew that very well. It couldn’t be criticism based only on the fact of outward appearance. I later on remembered that Fr Yanyshev, who was also a well-educated priest and obviously, since he was the royal chaplain, his appearance was not of a peasant. However, that did not hinder Alexandra of respecting him and having him as a spiritual father. That shows that, indeed, she was not judging people according to their appearance, but she was searching for a deeper religious experience.

Превед: I don’t think that Orthodox hierarchs would be annoyed because of Alexandra’s relation to a real staretz. If they reacted to it, it was just because Rasputin was not a real staretz, but “something else”. In the Orthodox tradition, the presence of startzi in the life of the Church -especially in Russia- has always been accepted with reverence. Even Gilliard wrote about this in his book very clearly. Furthermore, to think that Alexandra would deliberately chose to mock any priest by any means, would suggest that she had no idea of what spiritual introspection is. Since we know, though, that she was so prayerful, we must think that her conscious was at peace before God. That could have never been so, if she mocked anyone in any way, be it a priest or anyone else.

Just my thoughts.