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    STS. ELIZABETH AND BARBARA'S RELICS ON WAY BACK TO RUSSIA

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    VLADIVOSTOK, August 15 (RIA Novosti) - The relics of Sts. Elizabeth and Barbara were sent in a church-car on Sunday from Vladivostok (a port on the Western coast of the Sea of Japan, administrative center of the Primorye territory; time difference with Moscow is +7 hours) on the Transsiberian Mainline along Russia.

    The Primorye Diocese press center reported that the first stop will be in Khabarovsk. This will the eighth Russian city whose residents will be able to touch the Orthodox shrine.

    Then, the church-car will continue its way to dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. Orthodox believers in many Russian regions, as well as in Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and the Baltic countries will venerate the Orthodox shrine.

    The holy relics will stay two days in each city. They will return to Moscow on February 18, 2005.

    The transfer to Russia of the holy relics of Sts. Elizabeth and Barbara is the first joint action blessed by Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia and the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Metropolitan Laurus.

    The relics were brought to Russia from Jerusalem on July 25. Before arriving in Vladivostok, they had been to Moscow and a number of Far Eastern cities: Yakutsk, Magadan, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Anadyr, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, where thousands of believers venerated them.

    Grand Princess Elizaveta Fyodorovna, born princess of Hessen-Darmstadt, was a granddaughter of British Queen Victoria and a sister of the last Russian Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. Becoming the wife of Moscow Governor General, Grand Prince Sergei Alexandrovich (uncle of Emperor Nicholas II), she voluntarily adopted Orthodoxy.

    After her husband's death at the hand of terrorists in 1905, Elizaveta Fyodorovna took the veil and founded the Marfo-Mariinskaya Abode of Mercy.

    After the 1917 October revolution, the Grand Princess refused to leave Russia and was arrested in Moscow on the Easter of 1918.

    On July 18 the same year, together with nun Barbara and princes from the Romanovs' house, Elizaveta Fyodorovna was buried alive in a shaft 12 km from Alapayevsk (Urals) near Yekaterinburg.

    In fall 1918, the remains were taken out of the shaft and buried in the St. Trinity Cathedral of Alapayevsk. Next summer, they were transferred to Chita (Far East). In 1920, the remains of the great martyrs were transferred to Beijing, then shipped to Shanghai, then to Port Said.

    From Egypt, the relics were brought by train to Jerusalem, to the Maria Magdalene Russian Church in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    On October 31 and November 1, 1981, New York hosted the glorification of Grand Princess Elizaveta Fyodorovna and nun Barbara as Saints of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. In 1992, they were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as new martyrs.

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