06 October 2009

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna Marks Her 95-th Birthday

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna Marks Her 95-th Birthday

The sixth of October 2009 marked the 95-th birthday of H.I.H., Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, the Most August Mother of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Maria Vladimirovna.

The Most August Mother of the current Head of the Russian Imperial House was born in Tiflis on 23 September (Old Style) 1914, into the family of H.R.H. Prince Georgii Aleksandrovich and H.R.H. Princess Elena Sigizmundovna Bagration of Mukhrani. In 1918, after the execution of his father, H.R.H. Prince Alexander Iraklievich, by the Bolsheviks, Prince Georgii Aleksandrovich became the Head of the Georgian Royal House of Bagration. The Royal Family of Georgia was spared the terror of the Communist regime by leaving their homeland in 1931, thanks to the intervention of Maxim Gorky. In 1934 in Nice, H.R.H. Princess Leonida Georgievna married for the first time a descendant of a Scottish noble family and American citizen, S. M. Kirby. In 1937, the marriage was dissolved.

The Lord’s Will was such that genuine marital happiness, and her life’s work, should come to Leonida Georgievna with her marriage on 13 August 1948 to the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich. In 1953, a daughter was born to this union, the present Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna.

For more than 60 years as a member of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna has been a faithful source of support for her spouse, and later, for her daughter. She accompanied Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich during his first visit to Russia in November 1991, and after that traveled often to her Motherland, engaging in various cultural and charitable activities.

At the present time, Her Imperial Highness’s health does not allow her to be as active as she once was, or to undertake long and lengthy travel. But in spirit and in her heart, she is one with her countrymen in Russia and has not given up hope that she will again be able to visit her beloved homeland.

The Grand Duchess has received, and continues to receive, birthday greetings and congratulations from well-wishers. The greeting dearest to her heart has been the Congratulatory Letter sent to her from Russia by His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, while still metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, took part in the historic first meeting between the ever-memorable Patriarch Aleksei II and Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich and Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna on 6 November 1991, at the St. John Convent on the Karpovka rivulet, founded by St. John of Kronstadt. It pleased God that Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna’s last visit to Russia was marked by a special meeting with Metropolitan Kirill: in September 2002, the metropolitan received the Head of the House of Romanoff, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, and Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna in the Smolensk Eparchy and they were together with him as he dedicated the Church-Memorial of the Icon of the Mother of God “Hope of Those who have Perished” at the military cemetery at the Solov’ev Crossing, where, during World War II, a bloody battle took place.

Congratulatory Letter
Of His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia,
To Her Imperial Highness, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna,
On the Occasion of her 95-th Birthday
Moscow, 6 October 2009

(Letterhead of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia)

6 October 2009
No. 6263

To Her Imperial Highness
Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna

Your Imperial Highness!

I send you my heartfelt congratulations on your 95-th birthday.

Over the course of many years, and during a time of schism for our people and decay of their spiritual foundations, the heavy burden of leading the Russian Imperial House fell upon you and your husband, Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich. You bore this burden with steadfastness and patience, helping our countrymen of that time to reconnect with their nearly entirely lost historical traditions of service to the Fatherland. The Russian Church can firmly testify to the fact that the Romanoff Family has preserved the spark of faith and its fidelity to the Fatherland.

Today, having passed through an evil period, our people are returning again to their spiritual roots and reconciling themselves with their own historical past. And it is of enormous significance that the House of Romanoff now enjoys very close ties to the Motherland.

The Lord has blessed you with great longevity. On this important day, I send you my heartfelt wishes for good health, peace and prosperity, and the acknowledgement from your countrymen of your many and important services to the Motherland.

May God bless and abide with you.

+ Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

The Congratulatory Letter from His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, was presented in Madrid by Hieromonk Nikon (Levachev-Belavenets), who was accompanied by the director of the Chancellery of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, A. N. Zakatov. On 29 September 2009, Hieromonk Nikon and the rector of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Madrid, Priest Andrei Kordochkin, visited the Grand Duchess. In the presence of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Hieromonk Nikon read and presented the Congratulatory Letter to her, after which Her Imperial Highness took confession and partook of the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior.

Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna expressed her feelings of love and gratitude to His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, for his prayerful support for the Imperial House and for his touching and kind words. The Grand Duchess also conveyed her greetings and thanks to all her countrymen, about whom she constantly thinks and incessantly prays.

On 6 October 2009, on the Grand Duchess’s actual birthday, the rector of the Holy Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow, Archpriest Matvei Stadniuk, along with other clergy, served a moleben (intercessory prayer service) for the health of the Grand Duchess and all members of the Imperial House. Before the moleben, Hieromonk Nikon (Levachev-Belavenets) read the Congratulatory Letter from His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. After the moleben, there was a brief ceremony during which Archpriest Matvei Stadniuk was elevated to the Imperial Order of St. Anna, second class. The devices of the Order second class were also presented to S. Iu. Zhitenev, the general director of the Pilgrimage Center of the Moscow Patriarchate. The starosta (church warden) of the Holy Epiphany Cathedral, N. S. Kapchuk, was also awarded the medal of the Order of St. Anna. After the services and before a celebratory luncheon in the refectory of the Cathedral, other awards and medals given by the Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna on the occasion of Her Most August Mother’s birthday for services to the Country, the Holy Church, and the Romanoff Dynasty, were also announced.

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.