06 December 2008

An Announcement from the Head of the House of Romanoff on the Death of His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksei II

An Announcement from the Head of the House of Romanoff on the Death of His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksei II

From the Head of the Russian Imperial House 

To the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne,
His Eminence, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad

Your Eminence!

It was with profound sorrow that I learned about the death of the archpastor of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and all Russia, who was deeply loved and respected by the entire Orthodox world.

The name of His Holiness, Aleksei II, will forever be inscribed with gold letters in the annals of the history of world Orthodoxy and of the Russian State. He was a hierarch of global significance and a great patriot. His memory will surely be preserved from generation to generation.

It is probably impossible to name a single aspect of the lives of the Russian people during the tragic twentieth century that did not touch the life of the patriarch, now reposed in the Lord. His parents directly relayed to him the memory of the greatness and glory of the Russian Empire, and of the sufferings experienced by them after its collapse in 1917. In his own life experience, he knew the bitter taste of separation from his country, and the burdens of a terrible war, as well as the oppression of the atheists. Having embarked on the path of selfless service in holy orders, the future first hierarch was ordained to the episcopacy during a time of heightened oppression against the Holy Church. Displaying wisdom and perseverance, he succeeded in feeding the flock entrusted to him, defended and, where and when possible, saved numerous monasteries, churches, and holy relics from destruction. This spiritual and leadership experience served Metropolitan Aleksei well when, in 1990, in accordance with the decision of the council of bishops, he became the fifteenth patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

As had been the case with our ancestor, Patriarch Filaret (Romanov), Patriarch Aleksei II led the Russian Church after a period of many years of troubles and ruin. But before him lay far more difficult tasks. Aleksei II was called by God to lead the Ship that is the Church in a county that had conducted upon itself an experiment of atheistic brutality and inhumanity to a degree never before seen in the history of the world. Not one of his predecessors had to bear the responsibility for the rebirth of Church life in such conditions. On the one hand, new freedoms materialized, opening up entirely new possibilities, but also bringing with it never-before-seen dangers and temptations. On the other hand, there remained the burdensome legacy of the revolutionary epoch—unbelief, anarchy, and ruin. The historical territoriality of the great Russian State collapsed, and several times it seemed as though our people were on the brink of a new civil war. In the midst of these storms, Patriarch Aleksei managed not only to preserve the inheritance entrusted to him, but increased it many times over. His reign witnessed the rebuilding and construction of many monasteries and churches, the spreading of spiritual enlightenment, the rebirth of the Church’s charitable activities, the reestablishment of the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the general strengthening of the influence of Orthodox principles in government and society. And most importantly, thanks to the prayers, authority, and personal example of Patriarch Aleksei, millions of our countrymen have returned to their ancestral faith, building up the most important of all churches—the churches in our hearts.

I feel enormous gratitude to the blessedly-reposed Patriarch Aleksei for his steadfast love for Our Family and for his archpastoral help to me in fulfilling the responsibilities that have been placed upon me. For my parents, for me, and for my son, His Holiness was a spiritual father, a wise teacher, and an unceasing intercessor in prayer. Having left this earthly life, he has taken with him a piece of our hearts.

My most august mother, Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, and my son and heir, Grand Duke Georgii Mikhailovich, share in my painful loss and offer together with me their heartfelt prayers for the repose of the newly-departed Patriarch Aleksei.

I most assuredly believe that the Lord will receive His faithful servant, His Holiness, the patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Aleksei, in His Heavenly Kingdom, and will grant him the gift of interceding on behalf of all of us.

I ask your holy prayers and blessing.

With heartfelt love, and sorrow,

H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna 

Moscow, 23 November/6 December 2008

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