With a crown on his head, but more often without it – the icon of the Royal martyrs

What you need to do Church the way the Royal martyrs were adopted and became canonical? While the painters are in the process of searching and experimenting.

  • The Royal family cannot become the banner of political struggle
  • Monotachi bust of the Emperor, or that canonized Nicholas II
  • Patriarch Kirill: the Memory of the tragic death of the Royal family will contribute to the rethinking of history
  • For members of the Royal martyrs, in the first place, the example of a family
  • “We passed this way together with the Royal passion-bearers”

Irina Yazykova

The twentieth century was for the Russian Orthodox Church by the time of trial. But the Church survived, regained its freedom and was able to revive. A major role is played by the memory of the martyrs, thanks to the heroism which the Church survived and intercession she continues on her journey. In recent years, the Russian Orthodox Church was glorified by a host of saints, the calendar almost doubled.

Only the Cathedral 2000, the saints were ranked 1154 people. And it has set ambitious painters to create a task for each of the newly worthy of the Holy icons. And we see how the icons appear not only with the image of single images but whole churches, for example, “the Cathedral of new martyrs and Confessors of Russia”, “the Cathedral of the Solovetsky martyrs”, etc.

The creation of a new image — a difficult, demanding artist not only skill but also theological literacy, Church awareness, feelings of unification, and sometimes prophetic visions. Not every painter possesses these qualities, not everyone is able to create a new image, although taken by many. And, unfortunately, not all novopashenny icons and art satisfy the canonical requirements, and some of them give rise to confusion and even rejection.

There are images of recently canonized saints, the iconography of which is already fully developed, for example, St. John of Kronstadt. John of Kronstadt, St. Nicholas. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, and even to some extent the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. With all the variety of parts used in these icons have sustainable elements that are clearly build that way, make it recognizable and spiritually authentic.

But there are obviously bad images, unfortunately, a lot of them. Oddly enough, to contemporary painters knowing how look like a Saint (almost always we have the picture), turns out to be a problem.

Only an experienced painter can portray the face where you saved the portrait likeness, but also revealed the spiritual transformation of the Saint, and aims to show the icon.

All of the above equally applies to the iconography of the Royal family, which is still in its formative stages.

Strangely enough, theoretical studies that analyze the iconography of the Royal family, is extremely small. I will refer only to the article of the St. Petersburg researcher Oksana Gubareva “Questions of iconography swathy Royal martyrs. KB the all-Russia glorification of Emperor Nicholas II and His Family”, which was published in 1999, before the official canonization Романовых1, and the publication of Oleg Starodubtsev portal Orthodoxy.ru, appeared a little later.

Painters in the stage of research and experimentation

The last Russian Emperor Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov and the whole Imperial family — Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, their daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Tsarevich Alexei were executed in 1918 and canonized in the year 2000, that is after more than 80 years, and, of course, by the standards of history, is a short term in order to create a deep, truly the religious way, which would be adopted by the conciliar mind of the Church and would be canonical. Yet, I must say, mostly painters are in the process of searching and experimenting.

I must say that the images of the Royal family appeared in Russia long before the canonization. Largely due to the fact that the Foreign Orthodox Church canonized the Emperor and his family in 1981 along with a host of new martyrs Russian. In the early 80s in Jordanville, NY the image was created, and later repeatedly reprinted, called “the Cathedral of the Holy new Martyrs Russian, from atheists murdered”. This image was written by the famous iconographer, founder of Russian icon-painting schools in America Archimandrite Cyprian (Pyzhov). In the lower part of the icon, which is placed about two hundred of the saints depicted the Emperor Nicholas II and his family. This image was often equal, and equal is still Russian painters.

It is important to note that the Russian Orthodox Church canonized the Royal family in the rank of martyrs, and the Synod Abroad — as martyrs. While ROCOR had canonized all of the victims together with the Royal family in the Ipatiev house, as well as undergone the torment of the atheists, it is the family doctor Eugene Botkin, cook Ivan Kharitonov, and Valet Alexei Troupes, the maid Anna Demidova.

With the reunification of the ROC and ROCOR was restored not only liturgical and Eucharistic communion of the Church people, but also the veneration of common saints, which include the Royal family and all the dead with them in Ekaterinburg. This could not be reflected in the iconography. So, in one of Moscow’s churches have the icon, which depicts all the martyrs of the Ipatiev house together with the dead Alapaevsk, where he was thrown into the pit of St. Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, Grand Dukes, etc. (the icon painter Anton Jarzombek, the Church of the Holy Trinity in Khokhlov). This, of course, not typical but very important not only for the development of the iconography of the Royal family, but also the veneration of the new martyrs in General.

Two years ago our Church was canonized Dr. Botkin. This is the first step towards the recognition of martyrs, those injured in the Ipatiev house.

Of course, in the center of the tragedy is the figure of the Emperor, so the iconography of his image the most attention. The first iconographic images of Nikolai Aleksandrovich appeared in the West in the 1920-30s, long before his canonization not only in ROC, but in the ROCOR. I had to see the mural with the image of Nicholas II in Serbia, written before the Second world war. There is mention that in 1928 the Emperor and his family members executed with him, was canonized by the catacomb Church, and in 1938 they canonized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. However, the documentary evidence that we were not able to find.

An ordinary man, whose share fell heavy cross

But, at least since the 80-ies of the XXth century and to this day around the world created many iconic images of Nicholas II. However if you look at these images, you can be sure that the painters there is no single approach: on some icons, the Emperor is depicted in a simple tunic, on the other hand, in the traditional iconography of the princely robe, third — in uniform with medals and ermine mantle, the fourth in white robes, the fifth — in red as a Martyr, etc.

Often Nikolai is represented with a crown on his head or the crown of the Monomakh’s cap, with the Imperial regalia in the form of the scepter and Orb, with the George cross, medals and ribbons. There are icons where on the head of the king’s officer’s cap. A lot of icons, where he is depicted at all without headgear, without any regalia and insignia, as if the ultimate humiliation. There are icons a shoulder-length, semi-figured, growth and even on a horse, where the king is represented like St. George.

Meet and hagiographic icons of the Emperor, in the fields which depict episodes from the life and martyrdom of Nicholas and his entire family. But some icons highlighted his service to the state, and in others, the emphasis is on the deed last months in Ipatiev house and shot.

Unfortunately, today there are many marginalized groups, celebrating Nicholas II as Tsar-Redeemer. This has an impact on the minds of the Church people and to the images, which is written by the painters, which, alas, is not always apparent. So often there are icons on which the martyrdom of the king ultimately is seen as sacred, an example is the image of the head of the Emperor on a platter, referring to the traditional iconography of “the beheading of St. John the Baptist”. Or, for example, Nicholas is depicted as the throne upon which stands a chalice and paten, and he as the priest performs the sacrifice, thereby alluding to his “resemblance” with Christ, which, according to St. The Scripture, the king and the priest simultaneously. It is clear that such images cannot be considered canonical.

Certainly canonical can only be icons where the Emperor is presented as an ordinary man, whose share fell the heavy cross and he with dignity took it.

How it should be expressed in the icon, the question is not only artistic skill, but also a serious theological reflection.

Often the image of Emperor Nicholas and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna on the same icon, and sometimes the image is placed in the centerpiece and the fields depict the princesses and the crown Prince that emphasizes the unity of the Royal family in the face of suffering that fell to their share.

With a crown on his head, but more often without it

There are icons on which Alexandra Feodorovna is depicted alone. Honoring her today, we can say that increases the people, especially after the publication of letters and diaries. Thus again, we see a variety of options, saying that there is no common understanding of how to portray the Empress. On some icons on her Royal robe, on the other – low-cut dress, Alexander is sometimes depicted with a crown on the head, but more often without it. A lot of icons, where the Empress appears in the clothes of the sisters of mercy, underscoring her humble service in the First world war.

Similarly, in the garb of the sisters of mercy depictions of princesses, though it is more common icons are, where they are dresses in the early twentieth century. I must say, the Grand duchesses rarely write, with the exception of the so-called “icons”.

The image of Tsarevich Alexei much more can be found on the individual icons. And here, too, we see a wide variety of options. The crown Prince appears in Prince’s garb, a simple tunic or sailor, or even in Cossack uniform, white or red (symbol of martyrdom) in red tunic or cloak. Sometimes he is depicted with a crown on his head, but more often without it. Often in the hands of the crown Prince represent a cross. Some of the icons presented along the Emperor and the Heir to the throne. Also have the walking icons, where the crown Prince is depicted sitting on the lap of Grigory Rasputin. But, of course, iconography, formed in a marginal environment, far from the true understanding of Holiness.

However, most of the icons present us with the entire Royal family as a single group. But here we also see a great variety of options. For example, the famous iconographer Alexander Sokolov has written an icon, where the Emperor and the crown Prince are depicted in a tunic and without the crown, and the Queen and Princess – in conventionally princely dresses. Not here emphasize the ceremonial character of the image, namely strastoterptsy: Sovereign without a crown, because he had denied it, the crown Prince without a crown, because he is not heir, and the Queen and Princess in princely robes, which indicates the relationship with the ancient tradition, which has been characterized by the rank of the martyrs.

In the Ekaterinburg temple on blood is the image where the Queen and Princess in the garb of sisters of mercy (author Elena Vodicheva) that symbolizes the merciful nature of the service to the people, for whom he went on to exploit the Royal family becoming hostages of the revolutionary situation in the country.

Widespread the way in which all, including the king and Queen, dressed in white clothes, that refers to the images of the Apocalypse: “these are they who have come out of great tribulation; they have washed their clothes and got assured of his clothes in the blood of the lamb” (Rev. 7:14). White robes highlighted with a red background, an even more revealing aspect of the Martyr’s image. One of the options such iconography we can see in the Sretensky monastery.

Thus on Candlemas icon in the upper part depicts the Lord Jesus Christ, seated on a throne, before which the Royal family in prayer. This icon is called “the breaking of the fifth seal”, which emphasizes the apocalyptic nature of the image, reinforced the image of the Supreme judge. However, with all the grandiosity of conception this way theological not quite accurate, because the Fifth seal in the book of revelation refers to the souls of those slain for the word of God, and the death of the Royal family were not directly connected with confession of faith. Here is a very fine line between martyrdom and strastoterpets that was taken into account in the canonization of the Royal family.

Sometimes you can find the icon on which the Royal family is represented on the background of the cross, but more often in the hands of the Holy passion-bearers are depicted crosses, and this detail clearly indicates their feat.

However, most often the Royal family is depicted without regard to martyrdom or strastoterptsev sense, just as the canonized image of power. Therefore, they are clothed in princely or Royal robes, ermine mantle, are with crowns or with crowns on their heads, all of this is glorified not so much the heroism of the martyrs, as the royalty of these saints.

What do you need to iconography developed

The inscription of icons also varies widely: in most of the icons there is an inscription “martyrs” in accordance with the canonization at the Council of 2000, but many of these, where the Royal family is referred to as “martyrs”, as is customary in ROCOR. On some icons found quite unacceptable the naming of the “King-Redeemer”. But this inscription clearly indicates a different theology, beyond the bounds of Orthodoxy, for if Nicholas II is the Redeemer, then who is Christ? What God believes is written this way and honor it?

Sometimes I write a king or Queen with the icon in his hands. This technique is well known in the iconography. However, it is clear, if the Emperor on the icon holds the image of the PDP. Seraphim of Sarov, their connection is obvious, because the canonization of the PDP. Seraphim was approved with the assistance of Nicholas Alexandrovich.

However, it is strange to see the image prep. Seraphim with the icon of the Emperor or of the entire Royal family, there is clearly not only a chronology of broken, but broken the spiritual hierarchy. With the image of Nicholas in the hands often represent SVT. John of Shanghai, and this is understandable, as St. John Maximovich very honored the Emperor and contributed to the spread of this worship in the Russian Diaspora. With the icon of the Emperor in the hands depict also new Martyr Vasily Ivanov, who suffered under the Soviet regime it was for the veneration of Nicholas II.

They should be considered the most sustainable and theologically justified is the image of the Royal family in the Cathedral of new martyrs and Confessors of Russia, where it rightfully occupies a Central place.

We have described a set of images (a lot is left outside consideration), on the one hand, demonstrates the great interest in the Royal family and all the new martyrs, on the other – suggests that the Church has not yet worked out the Canon of images of the Royal martyrs, the conventional image is not found, and every painter invents something of his own, or use the developments of other, not too penetrating, that they acceptable and what is not. The reason for this, in my opinion, that the Church the image of the Royal family is still deeply meaningful theological and liturgically.

What do you need to iconography developed? Before you decide iconographic problems, you must realize the historical significance of the canonization and its spiritual meaning.

Discussion about the execution of the Royal family, which began long before the official canonization, long-term work of the Commission on canonization for a long time had matured the decision of the Council, still ongoing controversy surrounding the king’s remains – all this shows how difficult the way the Royal martyrs included in the Church’s consciousness.

Consequently, the creation of decent image – it is difficult and not momentary, it requires a historical distance and a great spiritual work. The image needs to Mature, be born inside the Church Cathedral of the mind, to arise, to reflect a unified faith, not a creation one, albeit brilliant master, not even a group of people, it must be a spiritual fruit of the whole Church.

1Губарева O. V. Issues of iconography swathy Royal martyrs. KB the all-Russia glorification of Emperor Nicholas II and His Family. SPb., Publishing project “Russian character”, 1999.

The text was first published in the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, No. 5, 2018

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