The contemporary scrutiny of Tsar Nicholas II, Tsaritsa Alexandra and their children eclipses, perhaps, the legacy of an earlier emperor, Tsar Nicholas I (1796-1855). Now his life has become the focal point of an exhibition-“Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality.”
It is the sixth exhibition in the series titled “The Romanov Family Saga.” Opened to the public on February 13, 2019 at the Mikhailovsky Castle in St. Petersburg, it boasts 500 works in various genres. Visitors can explore the ehibit until May 20, 2019.
Nicholas I is not without controversy. Igumen Theophylact of Holy Trinity Orthodox Monastery and Seminary in Jordanville, New York (where the woman aka “Evgenia Smetisko,” who claimed to be Anastasia Romanov. is buried with the date of birth of the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II) gave insight from an Orthodox perspective: “The thing is that one always has to take the Orthodox perspective when judging the reign of Nicholas I as any other Russian emperor or empress. He is considered by liberals, especially in the West but also in Russia as an arch-conservative and that his reign was deadening for the culture, but as the program reveals, actually his reign was one of flourishing of the arts. The thing is that that Freemasonry via some of the westernized aristocracy was trying to introduce into Russia Western forms of government and culture, but Nicholas took his vows very seriously to protect Russia and the people from such influences; he himself being a very devout Orthodox Christian.
For example, although the verdict is still out for many who was the Elder Feodor, whom Nicholas visited in Siberia, many believe it was his brother, Alexander I, who faked his death in order to spend the rest of his days in repentance as a hermit, for having been involved in the murder of their father, Paul I. Even though Alexander did not think and certainly did not agree to the murder of his father, nonetheless he facilitated the entry of the rebels into Paul’s living quarters. They fell upon him with animal-like cruelty, while the emperor was praying before his icons. The English government was involved with this, also.
Supposedly the Elder Fotii of the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavr (monastery) in St. Petersburg told Alexander that the only way to cleanse himself of patricide was to retire from the throne and spend the rest of his days in asceticism. It is also popularly believed that his empress, Elizabeth Alexeievna also faked a death and lived on as the Nun Agafia. In more recent times we have two other examples of Romanov grand duchesses who also “took the veil” in order to repent of their sins and those of their loved ones. The story of the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna is well known, who even suffered unto martyrdom, but there is also the Grand Duchess Olga Petrovna, like Elizaveta, a German princess who married an uncle of Tsar Nicholas II, Grand Duke Michael. Their marriage was very unhappy, and after his death, Olga became a nun in Kiev in a monastery she had founded and funded. She became the Nun Anastasia and was canonized a few years ago by the Russian Orthodox Church.”
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