16 September 2011

2011-09-16 Memorial Service in Contrexeville Francd

The Head of the House of Romanoff and Her Heir, the Tsesarevich, Attend Memorial Services for Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna and Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich at their Gravesites in the Chapel of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene and Grand Prince Vladimir in Contrexéville, France

On September 16, 2011, in the Church of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene and Grand Duke Vladimir, in the French town of Contrexéville, His Grace Bishop Nestor of Korsun served a memorial service at the graves of the most august mother of the first emperor-in-exile, Kirill I Vladimirovich, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder (née a duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin), and of her son, Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich.

Commemorative prayers were also offered for the husband of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duke Vladimir Aleksandrovich, and for his morganatic wife, Zinaida (née Zinaida Sergeevna Rashevskaia).

In attendance at the services were the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Wladimirovna; H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich; H.R.H. Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and his wife H. R. H. Princess Barbara; H. R. H. Prince Vladimir of Yugoslavia with his wife, H. R. H. Princess Brigit; the Head of the House of Törring-Jettenback, Count Hans Veit; H.I.H. Archduchess Helena of Austria; and the mayor of Contrexéville, Arnauld Salvini.

After the services, there was a memorial luncheon and the formal opening of an exhibit entitled “The Romanoffs and Contrexéville: The Era of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna,” at which many photographs and other personal belongings of Her Imperial Highness were displayed.

These events took place as part of the Days of Legacy in Contrexéville, and the organizer of the exposition was the famous French collector, writer, and publisher Cyrille Boulet, who is also one of the advisors on international affairs of the Head of the Russian Imperial House.

On September 17, an academic conference convened to discuss the life and fate of the Russian Grand Duchess, and that evening the Russian pianist Igor Laz’ko performed in the town’s theater. The proceeds from these events will go to help homeless children in St. Petersburg.

Beginning in 1902, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Elder, wife of Grand Duke Wladimir Aleksandrovich (the third son of Emperor Alexander II the Tsar-Liberator) made regular visits to Contrexéville, which is located in the Vosges Department, to take the local cures. Her Imperial Highness liked to stay in the hotels “de La Souveraine” and “Cosmopolitain.”

In 1909, the Grand Duchess lost her husband and in his memory built an Orthodox chapel in the park in Contrexéville. After the beginning of the First World War, Her Highness was unable to travel to the resort and returned to it only in the beginning of July 1920, after years of living itinerantly during the years of the revolution and civil war.

Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna was one of last members of the House of Romanoff to leave Russia. However, the victory of the Bolsheviks in the civil war forced her to leave Kislovodsk (where she was living) in early February 1920 on one of the last ships to depart from Novorossiisk for Constantinople. Ill and heartbroken at the tragedy that had befallen her country, the Grand Duchess died at the age of 66 on September 6, 1920 in Contrexéville, and was buried in the chapel of Ss. Mary Magdalene and Grand Prince Vladimir. In 1943, the body of her son, Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich, was laid at her side in the chapel. Twenty years after that, Grand Duke Boris’s morganatic wife, Zinaida Sergeevna Rashevskaia, was laid to rest beside them.

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