Sunday, March 21, 2004

Romanov Relics, Canonization, and the Truth

I received the following information from someone who I trust without question:

"Just so you know, our Church and all of us personally know for a fact that the remains buried in St. Petersburg were not the royal family. My grandmother and great-grandfather were in charge of the commission which found the mine shafts where they were chopped up into. My grandmother told me very many vivid things she witnessed. That is where the bodies are, not wherever they dug up just to close down this story and make it go away.We have articles in Russian that were written at the time of the DNA expert investigation. It was done terribly, with multiple chances of contamination. The rooms were never locked, people were walking in and out with no business being there, all kinds of people touched the 'remains' with no gloves, etc. It was a total circus, not a scientifically carried out investigation at all. It is very important that the charade be exposed, and the truth about what happened to the Royal family be known in its utter horror to everyone, not swept under the rug."

My original message was meant to question why this issue was being given consideration at this time; and wondering if the motive was to call into question the canonization of the Tsar-Martyr and his family by questioning the authenticity of the remains now buried as "Romanovs" in St. Petersburg. (I have apologized to my friend for my failure to state this more clearly before now.) There are, indeed, legitimate reasons to question the identity of these remains. There is no reason whatsoever to question the recognition of the Royal Martyrs as saints. (Sometimes my conspiracy theory gland works overtime...)

As I understand it, our Church -- the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia -- has recognized the Romanovs as "martyrs"; while the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarch has recognized them as "passion-bearers." Martyrs are those who have died for the faith; while passion-bearers suffered (sometimes to the death) for the faith. On one level, a subtle point; on another, a major distinction. Both are forms of sainthood, and a saint is a saint, after all. I suppose that it could be said that a martyr died for the faith, while a passion-bearer suffered for the faith. We are, in effect, saying that the royal family was killed because they were Orthodox; while the ROC-MP is saying (if I understand this correctly) that they suffered because they were Orthodox, but died for another reason -- say, politics. This would place the ROC-MP position closer to that perceptions of the world; where Tsar Nicholas II is viewed (at best) as a well-intentioned but inept ruler, whose flaws were among the causes of the revolutions that wracked Russia in 1917. Maybe this doesn't matter... Oh, well, what's a blog without the occasional rant?