The Novo-Tikhvin Women's Monastery
 
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Hand-painted icons by the sisters of the Monastery

From Alexander the Blessed to Nicholas the Passion-Bearer. What connects our abode with the Imperial house

In October of 1824, there was a great festivity at the abode: the sisters were welcoming an eminent guest: the Russian Emperor Alexander I. For them, he was not only a Tsar but also their benefactor: due to his royal patronage, the opening of the Novo-Tikhvinsky monastery became possible. At the moment of this joyous encounter no one could imagine that in less than a hundred years, sisters themselves will become the benefactors of the Russian Emperor, now Nicholas II...

In 2008, it will be 90 years since the day of the martyr's death of the last Russian Tsar and his family. The Ekaterinburg diocese conducts thematic events dedicated to the Romanovs' memory, starting with this October. One of the events is the tour of our guide recounting the history of the relationship of the monastery with the Imperial house. Today we are publishing excerpts from the tour.


Through the prayers of the Mother of God

The Novo-Tikhvinsky monastery was established December 31st of 1809 (January 13th, 1810, according to the new calendar) by a name edict of Emperor Alexander I. The abode had been reorganized from a community of the faithful located on the outskirts of Ekaterinburg. The superior of the community, the daughter of a factory skilled worker, Tatyana Kostromina (later abbess Taisiya) interceded for the establishment of a monastery at Ekaterinburg for about ten years. She went to St. Petersburg for this purpose. She had neither big sums of money with her, nor any serious recommendation letters, but only a fervent desire of monastic life and firm faith in God's help. Already soon upon her coming to St. Petersuburg, Tatyana found a few patrons: the chief inspector of the Holy Synod, prince Golitsin, admiral Fedor Ushakov (now canonized among the saints), and other well-known people of the time. They convinced the Emperor that Tatyana's intent deserves attention and support.

The name for the new monastery had also been approved personally by the Emperor. The Tsar had commanded to name the abode Novo-Tikhvinskaya, in honor of the Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God. The sisters highly venerated this miracle-working icon. Even at the times when the monastery was a small community at the cemetery Dormition church, they would most frequently pray at the church's Tikhvin side-altar and even promised that they would never abandon this place and the Tikhvin icon.

The most august guests

The walls of the abode keep the memory about the eminent visits. September 27 of 1824, traveling over the Urals and Siberia, Emperor Alexander I paid a visit to our monastery. He personally attended abbess Taisia's chamber, had a talk with her, and leaving the chamber, as a sign of deep respect, had kissed the hand of one of the elderly nuns. September 28, the Emperor attended Divine Liturgy at one of the monastery's churches.

In May of 1837, the abode was visited by the future emperor Alexander II who was travelling over Siberia with his teacher, the poet Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky.


The Last Gift

In the difficult times for the entire imperial Russia and the Tsar himself, the sisters did not forget all the good deeds they had received. When in 1918, the last Russian czar Nicholas II with all of his family was kept under arrest in the house of a mining engineer Ipatyev, the nuns of the Novo-Tikhvinsky abode were praying for them, asking God to relieve their sufferings, to strengthen them, and to give them the strength to bear everything with Christian humility.

The sisters' help was not only through prayer but also through deeds: disregarding their own safety, they supported the Tsar and his family by passing over various foods to them through the guards. On June 18th of 1918, a month before death, Empress Alexandra Fedorvna made the following entry in her diary: "The kind nuns are now sending milk and egges for Aleksey and for us, as well as cream." Once, when the sisters, as usual, brought to us some food for the Tsar, his spouse, and children, they were told not come anymore. This happened July 17th of 1918. On the eve, at night, the Tsar and his family perished as martyrs from the hand of the Bolsheviks.



***

In the years of his reign, Nicholas II did not personally visit the Novo-Tikhvinsky monastery, but the following fact speaks of his benevolence. When the painters at the abode painted a portrait of the Emperor Nicholas II in the Life-Guards' uniform of hussar regiment and passed it along to St. Petersburg, the Emperor placed this gift in his personal apartment at the Winter palace. The portrait was painted by nun Emiliana in 1896. In October 1917, during the assault against the palace, this portrait was bayonetted by soldiers and sailors. For over 70 years, it was kept at the Museum of the October revolution in Leningrad. Now it has been restored, but the cuts from the bayonets were left in place.

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All of the icons on the site are painted by the sisters of the monastery

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