23 December 2017

The Birthday of the Head of the House of Romanoff is Marked by a Solemn Service in Moscow’s Epiphany Cathedral

On December 10/23, the Feast Day of St. Joasaph of Belgorod, the birthday of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, H.I.H. the Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, was celebrated in Moscow.

See photos of the church service.

This year, this significant day was marked by a solemn service in the Holy Annunciation Chapel of the Holy Epiphany Cathedral in Moscow, where His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei II of Moscow and All Russia is buried—the patriarch who, in 1991, gave his blessing for the first visit of members of the Imperial House to Russia since the Revolution.

With the blessing of the rector of the cathedral, Mitered Archpriest Alexander Ageikin, the Divine Liturgy was served this day by clergy attached to the cathedral—Fr. Konstantin Korneev and Protodeacon Nikolai Platonov, as well as Hieromonk Nikon (Levachev-Belavenets), the Head of the Office for Historical and Memorial Activities of the Chancellery of the House of Romanoff.

During the litanies and at the Great Entrance, the clergy commemorated the “Most Pious Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and Her Heir, the Pious Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia.” During the Litany for the Departed, the clergy prayed for the souls of the Grand Duchess’s parents, Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich and Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna, for His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei II, and also for the Grand Duchess’s second cousin, the newly-reposed King of Romania, Michael I (who reigned from 1927 to 1930 and from 1940 to 1947).

After the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, an intercessory prayer service, or moleben, was served for the health of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and for her son and Heir, the Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia. A litya service for the repose of the soul of Patriarch Aleksei II was also served at this time.

Attending the services were members of the Chancellery of the Head of the Imperial House of Russia, led by the Director of the Chancellery, Alexander N. Zakatov; the Secretary of the Knights’ Council of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Colonel O. V. Kuznetsov; one of the most senior members of the Order, Colonel V. P. Poterukhin; members of the organization “For Faith and Fatherland,” led by the Chairman of its Board of Directors, A. V. Kulyomin; members of the Russian Nobility Association, led by its President, O. V. Shcherbachev; a senior diplomat (now retired) and former ambassador, A. A. Rannikh; the President of the International Slavic Academy of Sciences, Education, Arts, and Culture, S. N. Baburin; and parishioners of the cathedral.

After the services, Hieromonk Nikon gave a brief sermon. In it, Fr. Nikon pointed out that St. Joasaph, who reposed in the Lord in 1754, lived during a time when the Russian Empire had been formally proclaimed by Peter the Great (1721) and was growing into a significant European power, and was glorified during the reign of Nicholas II the Passion-Bearer. It is thus especially meaningful and symbolic that St. Joasaph’s Feast Day should fall on the birthday of the current Head of the House of Romanoff. Fr. Nikon also spoke of the importance of the continuing existence of the Imperial House of Russia in the modern world, when so many traditional values have come under assault. These conditions, Fr. Nikon emphasized, reveal the importance of the service the Grand Duchess and her Heir perform for their country and its historical values. Fr. Nikon then invited the Director of the Chancellery, Alexander N. Zakatov, to say a few words in conclusion. Alexander Nikolaevich conveyed to all assembled the thanks of Their Imperial Highnesses, and also reminded all of the need to mark this special day with acts of charity and almsgiving.

A brief investiture ceremony followed, and then the annual charity collection “Gifts for the Grand Duchess—Charity” took place, where this year donations in honour of the Grand Duchess’s birthday were collected to help support the Crisis Center “House for Mothers,” which provides services of various kinds to young pregnant women, many of whom are homeless, unemployed, and in desperate straits.

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