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April 23-27, 2012
On April 23-27, 2012, the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, and H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke George of Russia, visited St. Petersburg, Russia. Their Imperial Highnesses arrived in Russia to take part in the church services and other events related to the 20th anniversary of the blessed repose of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, H.I.H. Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, and the 20th anniversary of the assumption by his daughter, H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, of the rights and duties of Head of the Dynasty (on April 8/21 1992).
On April 23, the Grand Duchess and Grand Duke arrived at Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg from Istanbul, where they had attended the wedding of Prince Rudolf of Liechtenstein and Miss. Tilsin Tanberk.
On April 24, on Radonitsa (or “Day of Rejoicing”—the date when Russian Orthodox Christians commemorate the departed), Their Imperial Highnesses attended a memorial service (panikhida) in the Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral in the Peter and Paul Fortress, at the grave of Grand Duke Wladimir Kirillovich, which was officiated by His Grace, Bishop Nazarii of Vyborg, the vicar bishop of the St. Petersburg Diocese and the rector of the St. Alexander Nevskii Lavra. Also serving were Archimandrite Mstislav (Diachina), who had just prior to these services been designated in Moscow as bishop of Lodeinopol, a vicariate of this same diocese, along with other clergy. During the memorial service, all the emperors, empresses, grand dukes and grand duchesses who are buried in the cathedral were also commemorated by name. The Russian government was represented at the service by V. N. Kichedzhi, the vice-governor of St. Petersburg.
After the memorial service, His Grace Bishop Nazarii gave a touching speech to the Grand Duchess, the Tsesarevich, and all those present, and relayed to them the blessing and best wishes of His Eminence, Metropolitan Wladimir of St. Petersburg and Ladoga.
There then followed an investiture ceremony for those receiving Imperial and Royal Orders of Knighthood. The devices of the Order of St. Anna Second Class were presented to Bishop Nazarii of Vyborg, to Archimandrite Mstislav, and to Archpriest Sergei Kuksevich. The devices of the Order of St. Anna Third Class were presented to Archimandrite Alexander (Fedorov); to Archpriest Gennadii Belavolov; Priest Ilian Lavrentiev; Protodeacon Andrei Levin; to the director A. V. Bogatyrev; to the advisor for Heraldry in H.I.H.’s Chancellery, S. A. Man’kov; to the organizer of Her Imperial Highness’s recent visit to Armenia, K. R. Mrktchjan; and to the head of security in H.I.H.’s Chancellery, M. G. Shakhov. The Order of St. Stanislav First Class was presented to the president of the Jewelry Firm “Goringor,” A. S. Gorynia; and the certificate for the Order of St. Stanislav First Class was presented to the First Vice-Chairman of the Russian Nobility Association, A. Iu. Korolev-Pereleshin. The device and certificate of the Order of St. Stanislav Third Class were presented to the head of the Military Archeological Service O. B. Alekseev; to the philanthropists V. Iu. Veisenberg and V. A. Kim; and to the composer A. S. Shelkovnikov. The Medal of St. Anna was presented to Priest Nicholas Savchenko. The Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Third Class was presented to Colonel D. V. Smirnov. The Grand Duchess also personally presented documents bestowing hereditary noble status to Boris Nikolaevich Morozov, an eminent historian and advisor to the Genealogy Bureau of the Office of Heraldry in H.I.H.’s Chancellery. The Grand Duchess also presented a charter confirming the coat-of-arms of A. Iu. Korolev-Pereleshin.
In addition, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia formally became the patron of the Foundation for the Restoration of the Nikolo-Berliukovskii Monastery, and Her Imperial Highness personally presented the official documents (rescript) establishing her patronage to the Foundation’s directors, A. N. Panin and S. Ia. Vaksman. The President of the Foundation, A. N. Panin, gave a short speech wishing Grand Duchess Maria of Russia health and God’s help in all her endeavors; and on behalf of the monastery, he presented to Her Imperial Highness a copy of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan, as well as an original photograph of her grandfather, Emperor Kirill I, and an original document from the 52nd Vilna Infantry Regiment, of which her grandfather was honorary colonel (chef).
The editor-in-chief of the newspaper Monarchist (in St. Petersburg), M. N. Kulybin, and his wife, Maria, presented the Grand Duchess with an Icon of the Mother of God, which Maria Kulybina had embroidered in the traditional Russian fashion.
The military historian and the commander of the military archeological team “St. George” of the Inter-regional Association of Archeological Services “North-West,” O. B. Alekseev, presented to the Grand Duchess a very touching gift: a 125 gram bread ration of the sort that was distributed during the blockade of Leningrad, and a holy relic from the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, the medal “For the Defense of Leningrad,” which was discovered during an archeological dig.
The composer A. S. Shelkovnikov, who came to St. Petersburg to be at this memorial service from Prokopievsk (in Kemerovo Province), presented to the Grand Duchess and Grand Duke his new composition: a nocturne entitled “In Honor of H.I.H., the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke George of Russia.”
Grand Duke George presented the prize to the “researcher” Fedor Il’in, the winner of the competition “Living Connection with the Past,” who wrote a historical essay on Dr. Evgenii Sergeevich Botkin, the Imperial Family’s doctor who died a martyr’s death along with the Holy Royal Passion-Bearers in the cellar of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg.
All those who were present in the church—the representatives of social groups, political figures, and residents of the city—had the opportunity to speak with Their Imperial Highnesses, to express their warm wishes to them, to share their remembrances and impressions about Grand Duke Wladimir and Grand Duchess Leonida, and to present gifts to them in the form of books, articles, and other mementos.
A memorial meal (trapeza) followed the church service, at which the chairman of the Knights Council of the Imperial Military Order of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, V. A. Dvoriankov, delivered a formal greeting on behalf of the Knights Council and the organization “Military Nobility of Russia.” V. A. Dvoriankov presented the Grand Duchess with a medallion with a depiction of Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, marking the 20th anniversary of the ascension of Her Imperial Highness to the position of Head of the House of Romanoff.
Several of those present at the memorial meal shared their remembrances of H.I.H. Grand Duke Wladimir, and offered their warm greetings to H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria of Russia and H.I.H. the Heir, Tsesarevich, and Grand Duke George, including representatives of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, the Russian Nobility Association, and other monarchist and civic groups. Everyone present was deeply moved by the eloquent speech delivered by Brien Purcell Horan, who recounted the last moments of the life of Grand Duke Wladimir, who died while fulfilling his royal service to Russia.
That evening, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia received a report from the head of the Legal Office of H.I.H.’s Chancellery, G. Iu. Luk’ianov; met with the chairman and vice-chairman of the Russian Nobility Association, Prince G. G. Gagarin and A. Iu. Korolev-Pereleshin, respectively; and gave an interview for a documentary on the spiritual and cultural heritage of the House of Romanoff.
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