Holy Royal Martyrs of Russia: Tsar Nicholas II, Tsaritsa Alexandra, Crown Prince Alexei, and Grand duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and those martyred with them (1918).
“Tsar Nicholas II was the son of Alexander III, who had reposed in the arms of St John of Kronstadt. Having been raised in piety, Tsar Nicholas ever sought to rule in a spirit consonant with the precepts of Orthodoxy and the best traditions of his nation. Tsaritsa Alexandra, a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England, and a convert from Lutheranism, was noted for her piety and compassion for the poor and suffering. Their five children were beloved of all for their kindness, modesty, and guilelessness.
“Amidst the political turmoil of 1917, Tsar Nicholas selflessly abdicated the throne for what he believed was the good of his country. Although he had abdicated willingly, the revolutionaries put him and his family under house arrest, then sent them under guard to Tobolsk and finally Ekaterinburg. A letter written from Tobolsk by Grand Duchess Olga, the eldest of the children, shows their nobility of soul. She writes, ‘My father asks that I convey to all those who have remained devoted to him… that they should not take vengeance on his account, because he has forgiven everyone and prays for them all. Nor should they avenge themselves. Rather, they should bear in mind that this evil which is now present in the world will become yet stronger, but that evil will not conquer evil, but only love shall do so.’
“After enduring sixteen months of imprisonment, deprivation, and humiliation with a Christian patience which moved even their captors, they and those who were with them gained their crowns of martyrdom when they were shot and stabbed to death in the cellar of the Ipatiev house in Ekaterinburg in 1918.
“Together with them are also commemorated those who faithfully served them, and were either slain with them, or on their account…” (Great Horologion)
St Andrew, archbishop of Crete (720?)
He was born in Damascus to Christian parents. He was mute until the age of seven, when he was given the power of speech upon receiving Holy Communion. Tonsured a monk at the monastery of St Sabbas in the Holy Land, he served the Patriarch of Jerusalem, then became deacon in the Great Church in Constantinople, and finally was made Archbishop of Crete. He was present at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Accounts of the date of his repose vary from 712 to 740.
He is best known as the composer of the Great Canon, sung during the first and fifth weeks of the Great Fast.
St Martha, mother of St Symeon of the Wonderful Mountain (551)
She was a model of the Christian married life: she rose at midnight for prayer, she gave to the needy without reserve, and she bore and raised the holy Symeon of the Wonderful Mountain (May 24). Having foreseen the hour of her death, she reposed peacefully in 551, and was buried near the pillar of her son Simeon. After her death, she appeared many times to teach and to heal the sick. The Prologue tells the following story. After her funeral, the abbot of St Simeon’s monastic community kept a lamp burning at her grave, intending that it be kept burning perpetually. But after awhile, the monks grew forgetful and allowed the lamp to go out. The abbot became ill, and St Martha appeared to him and said ‘Why are you not lighting the lamp on my grave? Know that the light of your candles is not needful to me, because God has made me worthy of His eternal, heavenly light, but it is needful for you. When you burn a light on my grave, you urge me to pray to the Lord for you.’