Monday, May 14, 2007

Women of Grace & Courage-Grand Duchess Ella of Russia

'There will come a time when gifted poets will write verse in praise of the Grand Duchess, her noble soul, her radiant feats, not only ascetic feats but also feats of love and mercy. Her beautiful and noble deeds, will never be erased from the memory of human nobility and mankind will bless her as great, for she was wedded to love'.

These words were written by Abbot Seraphim in recognition of a great soul that was taken from this world too soon by a force of evil in which the world is still recovering, if it ever will.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth(Ella) was the elder sister of Czarina Alexandra both of whom married into the ill fated Romanov Dynasty. Grand Duchess Ella married the very taciturn and difficult Grand Duke Sergei who was known for his tightfisted and often brutal handling of the Russian peasantry. Yet Ella was the exact opposite of her husband and was much loved by all who knew her both Royal and peasant.

The underlying core of both sisters was their deep love of God and family, which was instilled in them by their devoted Mother, Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria of Britain.

Tragedy touched the lives of both Ella and Alexandra at a young age when they lost both their mother and sibling to diptheria. This seemed to bring a forbidding shadow of tragedy which dogged their steps and which would ultimately consume them in its maelstrom.

Though Ella loved her husband Sergei deeply their marriage remained childless, which grieved her heart but even more heartache would come Ella's way when her husband was assassinated outside their palatial home. The Grand Duchess who had just been about to leave and carry out her missions of mercy to the poor and hungry of Russia heard the explosion which tore the body of her beloved husband to pieces.

Grand Duchess Ella then did the unexpected which shocked Russian society, she visited the man who murdered her husband in order that he would repent of his grave sin and his soul would then be saved. Upon talking to the assassin she left him with a Bible and an Icon while she prayed for the soul of this desperate man, she had forgiven the unforgivable.

The death of her husband changed Ella who began more and more to embrace the life of a religious so much so that she soon began her own Relgious Order 'The Convent of Mercy of St Martha and St Mary'. Her mission was to help the poor and destitute of Russia, and they needed the help of this remarkable soul as many Russian people lived and died by their machines as the smell of anarchy wafted through the streets like poisonous tentacles.

It was also soon apparent that a rift had come upon the Hesse sisters as Alexandra failed to heed the warnings of her sister against the despot Rasputin. The rift between the sisters remained unhealed as revolution stirred the masses to turn against their Emporer and his Queen. Despite being warned about her own safety Ella refused to heed the warnings and had determined to stay with the people till the bitter end.

And the end came for Ella and her companions when the Bolsheviks beat her and then threw the broken body of the Grand Duchess Elizabeth with her companions down a cold and dank mine shaft.

The Grand Duchess Ella who was known for her great beauty yet remained without vanity. She was known for her love of the poor and unfortunate yet at times she appeared cold and aloof to her neices and nephews. The remarkable Ella who held the torn and bloodied body of her dying husband, yet forgave his murderer. Ella, the religious Mother who longed to help the poor and yet the one's she loved and longed to help....turned on her.

Ella born a Princess, became a Grand Duchess, died a Saint.