The Royal Russian Martyrs
The Royal Russian family (Passion Bearers) were martyred in Ekaterinburg on July 4th/17th, 1918. Tsar Nichalas II and Tsarevich Alexis wear ancient Russia Royal attire evoking their ancient heritage and authority. The Tsar had considered making this style of dress standard for the modern Royal Court at one time. Tsaritsa/Tsarina Alexandra, a former Lutheran who became a fervent Orthodox convert, also wears the traditional attire along with the white maphorion/veil of the Sisters of Charity who cared for the wounded during World War I.
Counterclockwise from the lower right are daughters/princesses Anastasia, Tatiana, Olga and Maria (memorized by using the acrostic word‘atom’). The two older daughters, Olga and Tatiana, were also trained Sisters of Mercy in WWI so the wear the white maphorion. As they were shot, witnesses stated that they crossed themselves.
In addition to decorative crosses and angels, the miraculous icon of the Reigning Mother of God appears at the top of the central panel. On March 2/15, 1917, the day the Tsar was forced to abdicate the throne, a peasant woman had a dream wherein she was told by the Theotokos herself to go to Kolomenskoye to find a specific icon that the woman saw clearly in a subsequent vision. A search was made of the church she had seen and the icon was found in the church crypt. It was restored and distinctive crown, scepter and orb in the icon were interpreted as Mary’s desire to ‘reign’ over Russia in place of an earthly Tsar.
The icon miraculously transformed so that the Virgin’s royal robe was bright red. This, with the distinct tears in the stern-looking Virgin’s eyes foreshadowed the sorrow and blood that would be spilled by the communists in Russia. Patriarch St. Tikhon wrote an Akathist and honored this icon. The Virgin is enclosed in a mandorla (an almond- shaped object that shows events transcending time and space and with a darker interior symbolizing holiness ‘beyond brightness’).
Below is Reigning Mother of God with traditional colors as a separate icon.