Sermon by Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky)
on the Bright Memory of Grand Duchess Elizabeth
(On the 100th anniversary of her martyrdom)
No every generation is given to encounter such a blessed gift from heaven as that provided by Grand Duchess Elizabeth [Elizaveta Feodorovna] to her contemporaries. [Before her marriage, she was Elizabeth-Alexandra-Louisa-Alisa, born October 20, 1864, to Grand Duke of Hesse and Darmstadt Ludwig IV—ed.] She possessed a rare combination of lofty Christian spirit, moral nobility, an enlightened intellect, a tender heart and refined taste. She had a very exquisite and multifaceted spirit. Her lovely appearance reflected the greatness of her spirit: her high forehead attested to her innate nobility which distinguished her from her peers. Her attempts to hide from others under a veil of modesty were in vain: she stood out from all others. Wherever she went, people could say: “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun?” (Song of Solomon 6:10). She always had about her the scent of lilies; maybe that is why she loved the color white so much—it reflected the brightness of her heart. All of her characteristics were well balanced—there was no trace of her being one-sided in anything.
Her femininity was combined in her with a courageous character; her kindness was not a display of weakness or blind trust of others; her gift of discernment which is so characteristic of Christian ascetics was inherent in her nature. Maybe her character traits arose from her upbringing, which was directed by her maternal grandmother, Queen Victoria. The mark of an Englishwoman undoubtedly was seen in her taste and habits: the English language was more dear to her than her native German.
Her inner spiritual education was in her own words greatly affected by the example of an ancestor of hers (on her father’s side), Elisabeth of Thuringen, Hungary, whose daughter Sophie was one of the progenitors of the House of Hesse. A contemporary of the Crusades, this remarkable woman reflected the spirit of her times. Her profound piety was combined with a selfless love for her neighbor. Her husband considered her generous charity to be wasteful and sometimes berated her for it.
Her early widowhood fated her to exile and suffering. She once again, however, obtained the means to help the poor and suffering, and fully devoted herself to acts of mercy. The great reverence for this royal ascetic inspired the Catholic Church to canonize her as a saint in the 13th century. The impressionable young Grand Duchess was enamored of the bright image of her honorable ancestor.
Her great inherited talents were bolstered by a broad education which not only slaked her intellectual and aesthetic curiosity, but also enriched her in a practical way, with knowledge necessary for every woman in her household. “The Empress [meaning Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, her younger sister[ and I were taught everything in our childhood,” she once said in response to a question about her knowledge of all aspects of managing a household.
Chosen to be the wife of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, the Grand Duchess arrived in Russia at a time when the nation, under the firm scepter of Tsar Alexander III, achieved the pinnacle of its might and power, and in a purely nationalistic spirit. The young Grand Duchess, with her innate curiosity and moral sensitivity, began carefully studying the national traits of the Russian people, especially their faith, which was deeply impressed in the national character and our entire culture.
Orthodox Christianity soon conquered her with its beauty and inner richness, which she often compared with the spiritual poverty of desolate Protestantism (“and through it all they are all so pleased with themselves,” she would say).
[From her contacts with the Catholic world, the Grand Duchess sometimes recalled her trip to Rome, which she and the Grand Duke had made for the anniversary of Leo 13th. The pope knew well the staunch convictions of Sergei Alexandrovich, but also esteemed him personally, having met with the young Grand Duke during the latter’s earlier visit to Rome. Their long-time friendship permitted open conversations between the two; they even once debated how many popes were named Sergius. The two luminaries refused to concede their positions, and Pope Leo retreated to his library to research the matter. He returned and said in frustration: “Pardon me,” said Pope Leo, smiling, “though they say that the pope is infallible, this time he erred” –Ed.]
The Grand Duchess, through her own conviction, decided to unite with the Orthodox Church. When she told her husband about this, in the words of a former courtier, “tears welled up in his eyes.” Emperor Alexander III was deeply touched by her decision, and after her being anointed with myrrh, the Tsar blessed her with the treasured Icon of the Savior “Not Made By Hands” (a copy of the miracle-working icon in the Chapel of Christ the Savior), which the Grand Duchess especially venerated for the rest of her life. Having thus joined our faith, and thereby to all that comprises the Russian soul, the Grand Duchess was able to speak the words of Ruth of Moab to her husband: “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).
The long term of the Grand Duke as Governor-General of Moscow, the true heart of Russia, where he and his wife were surrounded by the ancient holy churches and genuine Russian way of life, must have strengthened the bond of the Grand Duchess with her new Fatherland.
She devoted a great deal of time to philanthropy, but this was considered an expected aspect of her high rank, and so was not especially appreciated by society at large.
Paying homage to her surrounding, the Grand Duchess was obliged to partake of the worldly life that surrounded her, but she was already growing tired of its vanity. The martyrdom of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, ripped apart by a bomb within the sacred walls of the Kremlin (near Nikolaevsky Palace, where he had taken up residence after retiring as Governor-General), had a decisive effect in the soul of his widow, who chose to abandon the life she had lived until then.
The greatness of her spirit evident by her reaction to the tragedy she experience caused widespread shock: she found the strength to visit the killer of her husband, Kalyaev, in hopes of softening his heart and give new life to his soul through her meekness and forgiveness of all. These Christian senses were shared by her late husband, the Grand Duke, whose memorial cross, designed by the artist Vasnetsov and erected on the site of his death, bore the touching words of the Gospel: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Not everyone was able to properly understand and evaluate her internal transformation. One must often endure a shocking catastrophe to be convinced of the fleeting and false wealth, glory and other earthly pleasures about which the Gospel has warned us for so many centuries. For society of the day, the decision of the Grand Duchess to release her servants, depart from the world and devote her life to God and mankind, seemed to reflect madness. Disdain for the tears of her friends as well as the whispers and mockery of society, she boldly set out upon her new path. Having already chosen the path of ideal, ascetic podvig, she wisely began her ascent upon the ladder of Christian virtue only gradually.
She was aware of the commandments of the spiritual fathers who advised those who embark on the Christian way to learn first from the lives of others: “For if you set out upon a road that is new to you without a guide, you are sure to turn aside immediately either to the right or to the left, to lay yourself open to the assaults of error, to go too far or else not far enough, to weary yourself with running too fast or to loiter by the way and to fall asleep” (St Jerome, Letter to Rusticus).
So she decided not to undertake anything without the direction of experienced elders, especially the Elders of St Zosima Hermitage, to whom she vowed her utter obedience; as her heavenly patrons she selected St Sergius and St Alexei. [She also revered St Seraphim, whose canonization she attended with the rest of the Royal Family—Ed.] She entrusted to their intercession her late husband, burying him near Chudov Monastery in a magnificent crypt built in the style of the Roman catacombs. The long mourning period over the Grand Duke, during which she immersed herself in her spiritual life spending countless hours in church, was the first natural boundary she crossed to separate her from her familiar earthly life. Her move from the palace to a building she purchased on Ordynka Street, where she kept only two rooms for herself, was a complete break with the past and the beginning of a new period in her life.
From then on, her main task was to establish a community in which her spiritual service to God would organically unite with service to man in the name of Christ. This was an utterly new form of ecclesiastical philanthropy, and so it drew a great deal of attention in society. At its foundation was a deep and unerring notion: no one can give more than he himself has. We all draw from God, and only in Him can we love our neighbor. So-called natural love or humaneness quickly fades, replaced by indifference or disappointment. But he who lives in Christ is able to ascend to the level of complete self-denial and lay down his life for his friends.
The Grand Duchess did not only wish to infuse philanthropy with the spirit of the Gospel, but to place it within the bosom of the Church, thereby bring society itself closer to the Church, a large portion of which had become indifferent to faith. The name that the Grand Duchess gave to the establishment she founded was very important: Marfo-Mariinskaya [SS Martha and Mary--Ed.] Convent: the mission of the latter, Mary, was first emulated there.
The convent was to be like the house of Lazarus, whom Christ the Savior often visited. The nuns of the convents were called upon to combine the lofty calling of Mary, devoted to the eternal words of life, and the service of Martha, accommodating Christ through the persons of His lesser brethren. Justifying and clarifying her idea, the blessed founder of the convent would say that Christ the Savior could not condemn Martha for the hospitality she showed Him, he simply cautioned her, being the kind of woman that she was, to avoid exaggerated fussiness which would detract from the higher demands of the spirit.
To be not of this world, yet to live and work within it in order to transform it was the basis upon which she wished to establish her convent.
Striving to be an obedient daughter of the Orthodox Church, the Grand Duchess did not wish to exploit the advantages of her position to free herself in any way at all from the rules established for all or the explicit directions of the Church hierarchy; on the contrary, she readily fulfilled the most minor requests of the Church, even if they contradicted her own opinions. One time, for instance, she seriously considered reestablishing the ancient institution of the deaconess, which was fervently supported by Metropolitan Vladimir of Moscow; but based on a misunderstanding, Bishop Germogen (at that time serving in Saratov, later in Tobolsk, where he met his martyrdom) objected, accusing the Grand Duchess, without any basis, of Protestant tendencies (which he later repented of), and he forced her to abandon her idea. Having been misunderstood in her finest of intentions, the Grand Duchess did not falter from the setback, but devoted her heart to her “favorite child,” Marfo-Mariinsky Convent.
Not surprisingly, the convent quickly flourished and attracted many sisters both from the aristocracy and common people. A monastic order of life reigned at the convent: in both internal and external ways it was expressed in treating the sick in a clinic located on the convent grounds [the Grand Duchess, it must be noted, wished to educate select sisters for the spiritual consolation of the seriously ill who were on their deathbed. “Isn’t it terrible,” she would say, “that out of a false sense of humanity we try to encourage these people with the false hope of recovery? We would serve them better if we prepared them for the Christian passing into eternity”—Ed.].
The convent provided material and moral support of the needy, caring for orphans and abandoned children, of whom so many die in every big city. The Grand Duchess paid special attention to the poor children of Khitrov Market, who bore the curse of the sins of their fathers. These children born in this bleak “bottom of the barrel” of Moscow would die before having a chance to blossom. Many of them were placed in orphanages, where they would recover physically and spiritually; others were cared for where they lived. The entrepreneurial spirit and moral sensitivity the Grand Duchess always had caused her to seek out new forms of charitable work, which was sometimes influenced by her earlier, Western life, where they were ahead of us in the organization of social services and mutual aid; on that basis she created a workshop for errand-boys, complete with dormitories; residences for female students, etc. Not all of these institutions were directly connected to Marfo-Mariinsky Convent, but they were all like rays of sunlight emanating from their founder, who embraced them with her care and protection.
Having chosen as her mission not only service to her neighbor in general, but the spiritual education of our society as a whole [the Grand Duchess must have been amazed in this respect at the difference between the Russian and English psychology of society. In England there was no division between scholarly learning and religiosity. The most educated of people there do not hesitate to witness “the Crucified Christ” and fulfill all religious duties on par with the common folk. Christianity until now, the early 20th century, preserved its great influence in all aspects of life and organically intertwined with daily life in all its forms. Naturally, the clergy there--without any special effort on its part, through the very course of daily life--is elevated to the height of the social order and enjoys a place of honor that is seen nowhere else in the Christian world. Maybe this trait of the English people is explained by the persistence of English culture and the very political power of the nation. They say for good reason that the English Queen Victoria, in response to a question posed by an American as to wherein lies the greatest strength of England, responded by pointing to the Bible and saying: “in this little Book”—Ed.].
The Grand Duchess wished to engage society using the closer and clearer language of ecclesiastical art and the beauty of Orthodox services: all the churches she built, especially the main church of the convent, built in the Novgorod-Pskov style by the renowned architect Shchusev, with its frescoes painted by Nesterov, were exemplary in their restraint of style and artistic perfection both inside and out. The church-crypt under the vaults of that church also evokes delight by its pacifying warmth.
Divine services at the convent were always performed on a lofty level, thanks to the spiritual father selected for it by the abbess [Fr Mitrofan Srebryansky, who would later become New Martyr Fr Sergy—Ed.], exceptional in his pastoral qualifications; from time to time, she invited other fine pastors of Moscow and the rest of Russia to serve and deliver sermons, like a bee gathering nectar from different flowers. For her, a true Christian, there was no such thing, as Gogol said, as “a completed course of study.” She remained a student her entire life, as conscientious as she was modest.
The physical appearance as well as internal daily life of Marfo-Mariinsky Convent, and in fact in all the establishments of the Grand Duchess, in addition to their spirituality, bore the mark of her exquisite and refined culture, not because she imparted any special meaning to it, but because that was a consequence of her creative spirit. Concentrating her activity around the convent, the Grand Duchess did not break ties with other social organizations, charitable institutions or religious schools with which she had been connected from her earlier years in Moscow.
Maybe the chief among these was the Orthodox Palestine Society which became so dear to her because it was inspired by the profound Orthodox Russian sensitivity to the Holy Land of her late husband, Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. Having inherited the Presidency of the organization from him, she emulated his zeal for Zion and tireless care for Russian pilgrims who streamed to the Holy Land. It was her desire to go there, though she had already visited the holy sites together with her late husband; but the constant chain of tasks and responsibilities which grew heavier every year, prevented her from leaving Russia for long to travel to the Holy City. Alas, no one could have known that she would go to Jerusalem again only after her death, to find her final resting place there.
Her mind was always as lofty as her heart, and in heading the OPS, she expressed her love and enthusiasm for the Holy Land with great administrative knowledge, creating the impression that she personally directed all of the Society’s institutions. In the final years before the war, she was obsessed with the notion of establishing a solid Russian presence in Bari, Italy, with a church dedicated to St Nicholas. The plans and model of the building, designed by Shchusev in the ancient Russian style, were always place in her waiting room.
Numerous lectures and receptions, the consideration of various appeals and requests which reached her from all over Russia, and other affairs usually filled her entire day, leading her to utter exhaustion. This did not prevent her, still, from spending nights at the bedside of the gravely ill or to attend night-time divine services in the Kremlin and other churches and monasteries beloved by the people of Moscow. Her spirit overcame the demands of her flesh. [The only respite for her were trips to worship in other regions of Russia. The people there, however, also hindered her ability to find solitude. Revering in her the combination of a double halo: Royal blood and lofty piety, they would accost her everywhere, and the visits of the Grand Duchess to various cities of Russia would unwillingly turn into triumphal processions—Ed.]
Hiding her asceticism, she always met visitors with a bright smile. Only when she was alone or in a close circle of friends did her eyes betray a secret sorrow—the mark of a lofty spirit toiling on this earth. Denying almost everything of this earth, she shone with an inner radiance and especially her love and tenderness. No one could do a kind deed in a more delicate way than she—each recipient according to his own needs or spiritual persona. She was not only able to weep with the sorrowful, but rejoice with the happy, which is usually even harder to do.
Not technically a monastic, she adhered to the holy commandment of St Nil of Sinai more than most nuns: “Blessed is the monastic whom esteems every person as a god after God.” To find the best in every person, “to call for mercy for the fallen” was the constant desire of her heart. Her meekness did not prevent her, however, from burning with righteous indignation upon seeing injustice. She was a stricter judge of herself if she made some mistake. One should note of a fact that bears witness to this characteristic she possessed, and of how her genuine nature overcame her natural restraint and demand for proper etiquette. Once when I was still a Vicar Bishop in Moscow, she proposed that I head a society comprised solely of laypersons which had no direct connection with the Church. I was taken aback, no knowing how to respond. She immediately understood my reaction: “Forgive me,” she boldly said: “that was silly,” relieving me of my dilemma.
The lofty position of the Grand Duchess, together with the accessibility, attracted all sorts of organizations and individuals to ask favors of her, or her support or protection, or intercession before the Imperial administration, both locally, in Moscow, and in the capital. She carefully responded to each request, except for those which were purely political; these she decisively rejected, considering her meddling in politics inconsistent with her new calling.
All ecclesiastical, charitable, scholarly and artistic institutions enjoyed her attention and support. She fervently defended the preservation of the most cherished daily customs and traditions of the old Moscow she loved. The jubilee celebrations of 1912 gave her an unexpected opportunity to display her zeal in this area.
Only a few know the details of this, even among those who were directly involved. As the program of the centennial of the War for the Fatherland [victory over Napoleon—Ed.] was being developed by a special commission in Moscow, heated debate arose about how to mark August 30th, the final day of celebrations in Moscow, where the Tsar was to ceremoniously arrive from Borodino. The representative of the Ministry of the Court proposed making the focal point a visit by the Tsar to the Zemsky Crafts Museum, which had absolutely no connection to the history of 1812.
Others supported the idea that I proposed: to perform a grand moleben of gratitude on that day on Red Square, which was from ancient times a holy day for Russia, being the feast day of St Alexander Nevsky. This was a natural continuation of the jubilee celebrations and the very character of the historic sacrificial podvig of the Russian nation, accomplished under the auspices of the Church a century earlier. The ceremony commission, however, did not wish to deviate from their plan, referring to the “Imperial instructions” of the Tsar as a shield of iron, the verity of which, of course, no one could confirm. As one representing the clergy, my supporters and I could do nothing but submit to the inevitable.
When I met with the Grand Duchess, I told her about this conflict. She said: “I will try to write to the Tsar about this, because for us women,” she said with a hint of a smile, “all things are permitted.”
A week later she informed me that the Tsar changed the program and accepted our proposal.
That August 30 we saw the grand and even astounding tableau of representatives of the entire nation at a religious and also patriotic celebration, which those who witnessed it will never forget, and Moscow owed it all to the intercession of the Grand Duchess, who demonstrated not only her devotion to the Church, but profound sensitivity to Russian history itself.
When the war approached, she selflessly gave herself to tending to sick and wounded soldiers, whom she visited personally--not only in the hospitals of Moscow but even at the front. She, too, did not escape the slander aimed at the late Empress, whom accusers blamed for what they deemed unnecessary sympathy to wounded Germans. The Grand Duchess endured this unfair, bitter insult with her usual greatness of spirit.
When the storm of revolution erupted, she faced it with remarkable self-restraint and calm. It seemed that she stood on high, insurmountable cliff, whence she looked at the waves crashing around her fearlessly, directing her spiritual gaze to eternal shores.
She lacked even a hint of anger towards the violence of the mobs. “The people are like children, they are innocent of what is happening,” she said meekly. “They are being led astray by the enemies of Russia.” The great sufferings and humiliation inflicted on the Royal Family, so dear to her, did not depress her spirit. “This will serve towards their moral purification and will draw them nearer to God,” she once said, her voice bright and soft. She suffered profoundly for the Royal Family, to which she was doubly related, only when the humiliating slander began, especially during the war; in order not to provide fodder for more slander, the Grand Duchess tried to elude conversing on the matter. If the brazen curiosity of idle people was directed at her, she would immediately fall into an expressive silence.
Once, upon returning from Tsarskoye Selo, she allowed herself to say “This terrible person [that is, Rasputin] wants to separate me from them; but thank God, he cannot.” The charm of her personage was so great that she unintentionally won over even revolutionaries when they first began inspecting Marfo-Mariinsky Convent. One of them, apparently a student, even praised the life of the nuns, saying that he couldn’t find any hint of excess, only good order and cleanliness everywhere, which is beyond reproach. Seeing his honesty, the Grand Duchess began a conversation with him on the different qualities of socialist and Christian ideals. “Who knows,” said the young man whose name we do not know, as though conquered by her reasoning, “maybe we are striving for the same goal, but by different roads,” and he left the Convent. “It appears that we are not yet worthy of martyrdom,” said the Abbess to the sisters, who had thanked her for the successful conclusion of their first encounter with the Bolsheviks.
But the crown of martyrdom was not far off… In the final months of 1917 and early 1918, the Soviet regime, to everyone’s surprise, granted Marfo-Mariinsky Convent and its abbess full freedom to live as they wished, and even provided support in the form of food. That made the blow that much harder and more unexpected when on Pascha the Grand Duchess was arrested and sent to Ekaterinburg. His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon tried, through Church organizations, which at first the Bolsheviks left alone, to take steps to free her, but he failed.
The exile of the Grand Duchess was at first made somewhat comfortable: she was placed in a convent, where all the nuns were genuinely sympathetic to her; of special consolation to her was that she could freely attend church services; her situation worsened a great deal after her transfer to Alapaevsk, where she and her ever-faithful companion, Nun Barbara and other Grand Dukes who shared her fate were imprisoned in a city school. Still, she did not lose her innate staunchness of spirit and would send letters of consolation to the nuns of her convent who were greatly distressed by her fate.
This continued until the fateful date of July 5/18. On this night, she was suddenly taken out along with the other Grand Dukes, and the now-historic figure of courageous companion Barbara, out of the city in an automobile, and apparently buried alive with the others of one of the nearby mine-shafts. [Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, however, was shot with a pistol on the way.]
The subsequent excavations showed that until her final moments she tried to help one Grand Duke who was injured during his fall down the shaft, and the local peasants, watching the execution of these unknown individuals from afar, heard mysterious singing from under the earth for a long period of time. It was the Royal Passion-Bearer Grand Duchess who sang the funeral prayers over herself and the others, until “the silver cord was loosed… the golden bowl was broken” (Ecclesiastes 12:6), and the songs of heaven were then sung for her. This crown of martyrdom was placed upon her head and joined her to the host of others of whom Apostle John wrote: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 14).
She walked upon the earth as a wondrous apparition, leaving behind a trail of light. Together with the other sufferers for the Russian land, she was both a sacrifice for the old Russia and the founder of a coming Russia to be built on the bones of new martyrs. Such images have an unchanging meaning: their fate is eternal memory on earth and in heaven. It was with good reason that the voice of the people already called her a saint during her lifetime.
[Remarkably, soon after the birth of the Grand Duchess, her mother, Princess Alice, a woman of lofty and meek spirit, wrote to Queen Victoria about the name given to her daughter: “We liked Elisabeth on account of St Elisabeth being the ancestress of the Hessian, as well as of the Saxon House.” The late Grand Duchess preserved this name even after converting to Orthodoxy, choosing as her heavenly patron St Elizabeth.]
As if in reward for her earthly labors and especially for her love for the Holy Land, her martyric relics, found in the mine shaft, according to eyewitnesses, uncorrupted, were fated to repose in the very place of the Suffering and Resurrection of the Savior. Having been exhumed on orders of General Kolchak, her body and those of the other victims, Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, Duke John, Duke Igor and Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and son of Grand Duke Pavel Alexandrovich, Duke Paley, and Nun Barbara, were taken first to Irkutsk, then to Peking, where they spent a long time in the cemetery church of our Ecclesiastical Mission.
Through the efforts of the sister of the Grand Duchess, Princess Victoria of Hesse, Marchioness of Milford Haven, with whom she was especially close, her coffin, together with that of Nun Barbara, were taken through Shanghai and Suez to Palestine. On January 15, 1920, the bodies of both martyrs, inseparable on earth, were ceremoniously greeted in Jerusalem by British officials, Greek and Russian clerics, a multitude of people from the Russian colony and other locals. Their burial was held a day later, performed by His Beatitude Patriarch Damian and a large contingent of clergymen.
The crypt for the Grand Duchess was built especially for her under the vaulted ceiling of the Church of St Mary Magdalene. This church, built in memory of Empress Maria Alexandrovna by her august children, was known by Grand Duchess Elizabeth: she attended its consecration with the Grand Duke in 1888. This is the most beautiful and exquisite church that we have in Palestine. It is on the picturesque hillside of the Mt of Olives, and draws the eye with its purely-Russian architectural forms, leading one’s thoughts to the distant land of Russia which is so dear to many in the Holy Land. The martyr herself could not have selected a better resting place, even had she foreseen that she would not be laid to rest in her own convent, where she had prepared a grave for herself.
Here, everything reflects her spirit: the golden cupolas of the church reflecting sunbeams amid the greenery of olive and cypress trees, its artful interior decor, painted by Vereshchagin, the character of the holy icons, infused with the rays of light of the Resurrection of Christ.
Even closer, even dearer to her heart is the aroma of holy items which surround the church containing her coffin: below is a unique view of the Holy City and the grand dome over the Holy Sepulcher, at its base is the Garden of Gethsemane, where the Divine Sufferer prayed strenuously even to the perspiration of Blood; further is the Tomb of the Mother of God; to the left one can discern the hills of Bethany, the actual residence of SS Martha and Maria, the sisters of Lazarus, whom the Lord brought out of his tomb; above is the joyous Mt of Olives, whence the Resurrected Savior ascended in glory to heaven, in order to announce to all who in the face of temptation remained true to Him even unto death: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life… To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:5,21).
Jerusalem, July 5/18, 1925.