30 October 2003

Interview with the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, in the newspaper “Blagovest”

Interview with the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, in the newspaper “Blagovest”

Nonprofit Organization 


Of the Head of the Russian Imperial House,

Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna 

O.g.p. 1037725002842 

Mailing Address: Russia, Moscow, 105066, ul. Staraia Basmannaia, 21/4, 37
Tel. (095) 261-69-64; fax (095) 265-54-19 

To the Editor of the Orthodox Newspaper Blagovest,
Mr. Anton Evgen’evich Zhogolev

Interview with the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, in the newspaper “Blagovest,” 13 July 2003. 

1. Your Imperial Highness. 2003 has been a year with two very significant events in which you have taken part. I have in mind the consecration of the Church of All Saints in Ekaterinburg, built on the very location where the Imperial Family was murdered, and the 100-th anniversary of the canonization of St. Seraphim of Sarov. What role should these enormously important events play in the spiritual rebirth of Russia and in the strengthening of political authority in Russia? Why did you choose to take part in these events, as opposed to any others you might have chosen?

These celebrations have an enormous spiritual significance for our Motherland. The consecration of the Church-on-the-Blood in Ekaterinburg is a symbol of the general repentance for the sin of regicide, and the celebration of the anniversary of St. Seraphim reminds us all of the ideals of a Holy Rus’, ideals that were taught, in word and in deed, by this great confessor of the faith—one of the most venerated of all Russian saints. Both of these celebrations are linked to the holy memory of Emperor Nicholas Aleksandrovich. My participation in them was a most joyful duty both as inheritor of the position of Head of the Romanov Dynasty, and as a faithful daughter of the Russian Orthodox Church.

2. The Orthodox newspaper “Blagovest” has exerted much effort to try to get the Royal Martyrs counted among the choir of saints in Heaven. And now the glorification of the Tsar-Martyr and His Family as saints has at last happened. But their veneration in Russia is, in our view, only a beginning. What importance do you attach to this great event—the numbering of the Royal Passion-Bearers among the saints? Do you think that this event might prove to be the beginning of a change in the fate of the nation?

The veneration of the Royal Martyrs began immediately after their deaths. By the rules of the Orthodox Church, one of the requirements for the glorification of a saint is that veneration among the faithful of a saint must have already begun even before the Church has taken any action. The veneration of the murdered Imperial Family was officially proposed—if one can put it that way—by my grandfather, Emperor Kirill Vladimirovich, who, together with Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitskii) on 11 June 1929, proclaimed the anniversary of the regicide—17 July—as a “Day of General Repentance for the Russian People.” In 1981, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad glorified the Imperial Family. In 1989, in Russia, the first public molebens [services of intercession] were offered to the Royal Martyrs, and they were recognized as local saints in a large number of dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Finally, in 2000, they were glorified by the entire Russian Orthodox Church. The significance of this event is difficult to overstate: the Church, by means of its own authority, ended all doubts about the sainthood of the Imperial Family. But the extent to which this event will serve as a change in the lives of the people of our generation will depend on us. The veneration of the saints consists not in some hollow exaltation or outward forms, but in the following of their examples and in fidelity to their ideals. May God not permit us to be like the Pharisees, who adorned the graves of the holy prophets, yet demanded the crucifixion of the Son of God.

In Ekaterinburg, which had been a stain on the map of Russia, now stands a magnificent cathedral. Its consecration illuminates this place, illuminates the 17th of July, which has been transformed from a Day of Repentance to a Feast Day of the Church. I am certain that, through the prayers of the Royal Passion-Bearers, the Lord forgave us all and again opens the door to us for a rebirth of the land.

3. Orthodoxy and Monarchy in Russia have always been inseparable. At the present time, the Russian people are returning to the Orthodox faith. Do you think that this return to Orthodoxy will foster a mood for monarchy in modern-day Russia?

The Russian monarchy is senseless without the Orthodox Faith; and Orthodox theology contains a precise and formulated teaching concerning monarchy as the only Divinely-established and God-pleasing system of government. Without going too far into the nuances of theology, I offer the following comparison. Man is created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, human society ideally should take on the form and likeness of the Heavenly Kingdom. There, in Heaven, there are no republics, as you know. So for the Orthodox Christian, there can be no doubt that of all the forms of government, monarchy is the best form. I believe that, despite the many decades of anti-monarchist propaganda fed to the Russian people, the historical memory of monarchy has not died out, and that the value of such a form of government will again become known and appreciated among them. But monarchy cannot be fully appreciated without unity, without labor, without the struggle to live a Christian life—whether it be the struggle of the monarch himself or that of any individual citizen. Therefore, a genuine rebirth of the monarchist ideal will appear only as the result of a general process of return to traditional values in society as a whole.

4. Many Orthodox believers are very much alarmed by globalization which has begun to encroach even on Russia. Living abroad, you have confronted this problem before we have. What threat does the “ideology of globalization”—if you will permit me to call it that—pose to monarchism? What exactly is that at the heart of globalization? Is globalization a challenge to Christian values? What resolutions to this issue are, in your view, best for Russia?

Christian values, and the monarchist ideology inherent in it, are threatened by materialism in all its forms, whether it be communism, globalism, or even the movement opposed to globalism. The essence of all of these “-isms” is not a God-established living order in society, but rather artificial constructions that have the appearance of being in the best interests of the people but are in fact spiritual and physical enslavement. But to oppose any evil with evil is no solution at all. We do well to remember the words of St. Alexander Nevskii: “God is not with the strong, but with the righteous;” and to follow the teachings of St. Seraphim: “Acquire the spirit of peace, and you will save yourself and thousands around you.” We should firmly hold on to the Orthodox Faith and strive to live according to It, not walling ourselves off from the world, not going into a kind of “spiritual ghetto,” but using and directing for good purposes all that the modern world has to give us.

5. Some political analysts assert that the Russian people are now living through an extremely severe crisis in all spheres of life: economically, geo-politically, demographically, and so on. With what ideas or ideology might the rebirth of Russia be connected? What event personally for you would signal that Russia had turned the corner and had succeeded in embarking on a path toward rebirth?

The primary reason for all crises is, in my view, an underlying spiritual crisis. The Russian Empire was hardly the most undeveloped and backward country in the world, but it was nonetheless cut down by a horrible revolution which was possible because of the erosion and destruction of traditional and religious consciousness. That which was built up over the centuries in the lived experience of the Russian people was replaced by various concocted ideologies, each of which only led to suffering. We do not need ideologies; we need a return to our traditional and historic path of development. St. Vladimir, St. Alexander Nevskii, St. Dmitrii Donskoi, Peter the Great, Alexander II—none of these had any kind of ideology. They simply loved their Motherland, served it with distinction, and provided a personal example of self-sacrifice to all their countrymen.

To link one’s hopes for a national rebirth with one or another concrete event would, in my view, be a risky thing. After the Second World War, during which Stalin relaxed in many ways his harsh policies toward religion, many saw in this a symbol of the evolution of the Communist regime. But the subsequent period showed this relaxation only to be a tactical policy, not a real change in the regime. During Khrushchev’s time, despite the so-called “thaw,” the attack on belief in God started up anew and intensified greatly. The Saviour told us not to look for signs, but rather to follow always the greatest commandment: to love God and one’s neighbor.

6. The Russian Orthodox Church and The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad remain now, as before, disunited even though objectively the situation in the Church appears to be pushing for a very much needed reunification. What is the Imperial Family, of which you are the head, doing to help achieve this reunification of the two parts of the Russian Church?

During the years when the Communist and atheist regime ruled Russia, the existence of the Church Abroad was correct and necessary. The reason behind its existence was to preserve the foundations of the Russian Orthodox Church that could not in their entirely or continuously be preserved in the conditions of extreme oppression in the Motherland; and also to witness to all the world about the true situation of the Church in the USSR. The better hierarchs, pastors, and faithful children of the Church Abroad never separated themselves from the enslaved Mother-Church in Russia. It is enough perhaps to remember St. John of Shanghai, who was very close to our Family. My grandfather and father—all our Family over the course of the entire period of exile—struggled to support relations with all jurisdictions, supporting all things that led to unity.

So when the Church in Russia freed itself from this yoke, the Church Abroad should have united itself with It, to bring to It all those things it had safely preserved from harm abroad, and to help with the rebirth of Church life. Instead, the hierarchs abroad began to intensify their confrontational stand. In their actions at this time, there was no sign of Christian love; and from a canonical perspective, the opening of parallel parishes in Russia was an enormous mistake. My father applied a lot of pressure to try to achieve Church unity. In this regard, he found common ground with many abroad, but many others hated him for this. After my father’s first visit to the Motherland and his visit with His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei, some hierarchs of the Church Abroad betrayed our Dynasty, betrayed the pronouncements of their own Church Councils, and betrayed the position of the first three First Hierarchs of the Church Abroad. When my father died in Miami, the clergy of the Church Abroad refused to serve at his funeral. How could anyone who is a Christian, let alone an Orthodox Christian, behave this way! In those difficult days Patriarch Aleksei offered us his spiritual help. In our memories will always stand out the words of comfort written to us at that time by the Patriarch, and the words he said to us at the funeral service in St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Since then, eleven years have passed. Time has shown who was right and who was wrong. The Russian Orthodox Church is stable, but in the Church Abroad there have been a series of schisms. All of this is the result of pride, of boundless ambition, of striving to be in charge, of politicking—all under the cover of faithful-sounding slogans. But these slogans fool no one.

The faithful children of the Church Abroad, who cherish Russian Orthodox tradition, should come under the omophorion of Patriarch Aleksei, and those to whom this tradition seems now alien should find their path in other Local Orthodox Churches.

Among the clergy and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, there is a desire for reunification with the Mother-Church, but there are many things that are irreconcilable. If the position of the opponents to unity prevail, however, then the Church Abroad will certainly move into a new stage of its existence. The path to this new stage is laid out in one of the recent statements made by Patriarch Aleksei. If malice and intolerance win out, then the once praiseworthy Church Abroad will become nothing more than a marginal schismatic sect.

The Imperial House wholeheartedly supports the Moscow Patriarchate. We call upon all people who are in other jurisdictions and are loyal to us to begin the process to unify with the Mother-Church.

7. Your Imperial Highness, in the summer of 1993, you visited Samara. This visit was for our city a very important event. Many citizens of Samara learned for the first time that the Romanov Dynasty still existed. What memories of this trip remain especially with you? And what historical events and with what people do you associate our city?

Samara was founded during the reign of the last tsar of the Riurikovich Dynasty, Feodor Ioannovich. It was the site of many significant historical events. The people of Samara are rightly proud of their city. When we visited Samara ten years ago, we were especially delighted with our opportunity to meet and talk with the people. I should also point out that Samara is held out as an example to the entire world and that the city helps to project a positive image of Russia as a whole.

8. And the last question. In Orthodox circles there is the widespread belief based on the prophesies of venerated holy men, that in Russia at the end of time, the monarchy will be reestablished for a little while. What do you think about such prophesies? Do you think such prophesies could come true?

I do not think it possible for me to comment on the prophesies of holy men. They had a gift of foresight, they saw and understood things others cannot. The only thing I can say is that I myself profoundly believe in the ideals of Orthodox monarchy, and that my duty is to preserve that which I received from God. I know that many of my countrymen share this belief or something close to it. But faith without works is dead. Again I will say that it depends wholly on all of us and on our tireless efforts whether Russia will revive on the basis of its historical principles, or will share the fate of those civilizations that sank into oblivion, not having fulfilled their historical mission or potential. If we will go forward with faith in God and with confidence in ourselves, nothing will be able to stop us. 

(Identical to the original. Any abbreviations were made only by agreement with the Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness.) 

A. N. Zakatov
Private Secretary of the Imperial Family
Director of the Chancellery of Her Imperial Highness

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