18.07.

1918: Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia Burned Alive

1918: Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Russia Burned Alive
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia with his wife Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 18 July 1918
  • The Bolsheviks threw Elisabeth of Russia into a pit 20 meters deep. She survived the initial fall, so they threw a grenade into the pit. But Elisabeth was still alive. One of the executioners heard Elisabeth and the others singing an Orthodox hymn from the bottom of the shaft.

On this day in 1918, the Bolsheviks killed Elisabeth of Russia, who was a member of the imperial family.

A day before Elisabeth’s execution, her sister Empress Alexandra, Alexandra’s husband Nicholas II, and their children (Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia, and Tsesarevich Alexei had been executed). The two sisters were granddaughters of Queen Victoria, and the German Emperor Wilhelm II (Czarist Russia fought against him during World War I), was their cousin.

Even before the beginning of the October Revolution, Elisabeth became famous for her extreme devotion, charitable works, and beauty. In 1905, Ivan Kalyayev, who was a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, murdered her husband with dynamite. But, Elisabeth, who was a Christian, forgave Kalyayev, and campaigned for him to be pardoned. After that murder, she allegedly stopped eating meat, and decided to become a nun.

She sold her luxury jewelry, including her wedding ring, and other assets. After that, Elisabeth founded the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow, and became its superior. She even opened a hospital, a pharmacy and an orphanage within it. The Marfo-Mariinsky Convent was dedicated to helping the downtrodden of Moscow, and donated 300 meals for its poor inhabitants.

After the October Revolution, Elisabeth was arrested by the Bolsheviks, allegedly on Lenin’s orders. She was executed in  Alapayevsk – the town located in Swerdlovsk Oblast, Russia. The executioners threw Elisabeth and other members of the imperial dynasty into a pit 20 meters deep. She survived the initial fall, so they threw a grenade into the pit. But Elisabeth was still alive. One of the executioners heard Elisabeth and the others singing an Orthodox hymn from the bottom of the shaft. They threw another grenade, but the mentioned people survived, so a large quantity of brushwood was shoved into the opening and set alight.

About a month later, the counter-revolutionaries discovered the remains of Elisabeth and her companions. Elisabeth was buried in the Church of Mary Magdalene on the famous Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. She was declared a saint and a martyr, and canonized as Holy Martyr Yelizaveta Fyodorovna.

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