REBURIAL OF MARIA FEODOROVNA
Nicholas II's mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, is to be reburied in the cathedral in September 2006; she was a Danish princess who married Czar Alexander III and went into exile in Denmark after the Russian Revolution. She died in Denmark and was buried in the royal mausoleum there at Roskilde. This event was occurring as I am writing this, and there are several news stories on the web, though they may not remain there. A few are collected here.
Empress Maria Fyodorovna's remains returned to Russia
by Marina Koreneva Tue Sep 26, 5:53 AM ET
SAINT PETERSBURG (AFP) - The remains of Maria Fyodorovna, mother of Russia's last tsar, arrived in Russia aboard a Danish naval frigate, 87 years after she fled the Bolshevik revolution, organisers have said.
The coffin arrived in the Baltic port of Kronstadt to a 31-gun salute and was transferred to a Russian naval vessel, an official organiser told AFP Tuesday.
Escorted by Danish and Russian officials as well as representatives of the imperial Romanov family, the remains were taken to the tsars' summer residence of Peterhof at the start of two days of ceremonies marking the long-awaited return.
Danish and Russian officials have gone through years of negotiations to bring about the return, intended to draw a line under the bloody overthrow of the imperial family of Nicholas II by the Bolshevik regime of Vladimir Lenin.
The coffin of the Danish-born empress will lie in state until Thursday in Peterhof's Alexander Nevsky church, some 32 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of the former imperial capital Saint Petersburg.
It will then be driven to the Catherine Palace in the town of Tsarskoye Selo near Saint Petersburg, where there will be another brief religious ceremony, before it is driven through the streets of Saint Petersburg to Saint Isaac's cathedral.
There, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II will hold a funeral service before the funeral procession finally travels to the Peter and Paul fortress on the Neva river.
The ceremonies culminate with the burial of Maria Fyodorovna's remains next to her husband, Tsar Alexander III, in the Romanov family vault in the fortress, in accordance with her wishes.
She will be the last empress to be buried in the Romanov vault where every tsar and tsarina since Peter the Great (1672-1725) is buried.
The return comes 140 years to the day after the young Princess Dagmar, who was born in 1847, first set foot on Russian soil to marry Alexander.
It is also 87 years since she fled Russia at the age of 71, together with her two daughters Ksenya and Olga, rescued from the Crimea by a British cruiser.
She lived unhappily in her native Denmark until her death at the age of 81, according to Prince Dmitry Romanov, the great nephew of Alexander II, who now lives in Denmark.
At a solemn send-off ceremony Saturday in Copenhagen's Roskilde cathedral, the empress' great-great grandson, Paul Edward Kulikovsky, thanked President Vladimir Putin and Queen Margrethe "for enabling Empress Dagmar to be reburied next to the man she loved and to return to the country where she lived for 52 years".
Russia's post-Soviet leaders have carried out a series of such reburials in recent years in an effort to heal the rifts left by the revolution.
Nicholas II was reburied with his wife and three daughters in Saint Petersburg in 1998, while White Russian military leader Anton Denikin was reburied last year.
Nicholas abdicated during the 1917 revolution and he and his family were executed by Lenin's secret police in the city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains on July 17, 1918 -- eight months after the Bolsheviks seized power.
Descendants of the Romanov dynasty, members of other European royal families, as well as representatives of the Danish and Russian governments are expected to attend this week's ceremonies.
Thursday September 28, 7:35 PM Reuters
Russia reburies empress in imperial crypt
By Christian Lowe
ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russia reburied on Thursday the mother of its last tsar, forced into exile by the Bolshevik revolution, in an act of reconciliation with the country's bloody past.
Empress Maria Fyodorovna fled Russia after her son, Tsar Nicholas II, was murdered by Bolsheviks. Eighty seven years on, she was reburied beside her son and husband in accordance with her final wishes.
As a choir sang the Orthodox liturgy, eight black-suited men lowered her coffin down into the imperial crypt as the St Peter and Paul cathedral, resting place for the Russian tsars since Peter the Great.
Danish Crown Prince Frederick and descendants of the Romanov family filed past sprinkling earth onto the coffin. The white marble cover of the crypt was then put back in place.
Artillery guns fired a salute and flags around the cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia's former imperial capital, flew at half mast.
The return of the empress's remains from Denmark was a personal initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former Soviet spy who has revived some of Russia's old imperial grandeur to symbolise his country's revival.
"This will be another sign that Russia is overcoming the enmity and divisions brought by the revolution and civil war," Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II, who led a mourning ceremony in St Isaac's cathedral before the burial, told the preachers.
The burial closes a chapter in Russian history left open for decades: the former empress was the only ruler from the Romanov dynasty not buried in the crypt.
"I am convinced that the best tribute to her memory will be a resurgent Russia that will once again go along the path of Christ, a Russia that strives to live in wisdom and in truth and by the eternal moral laws," Alexiy said.
Unless Russia revives its monarchy -- which is highly unlikely -- she will be the last to be buried there.
Maria Fyodorovna was born as Princess Dagmar into Denmark's royal family. She changed her name and converted to Russian Orthodoxy when she married the man who later became Russia's Alexander III. She died in exile in Denmark in 1928.
Putin did not attend the ceremony. The reburial was earlier postponed after Moscow accused Denmark of giving refuge to violent Chechen separatists. The issue still clouds relations.
Many Russians view Maria Fyodorovna with affection because they associate her with a golden era of the Russian empire.
After her son took over, the country slipped into war and misrule that eventually led to the revolution.
"She was one of our better empresses. She did not meddle in politics and she lived a good Russian life," said Yevgeny Levashov, a 77-year-old pensioner.
"I think it is worth reburying her. A wife should be laid to rest next to her husband."
Russian czar's mother's remains interred
By IRINA TITOVA, Associated Press Writer Thu Sep 28, 11:01 AM ET
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Cannon shots boomed, motorists honked their horns and church bells tolled as the remains of the Danish-born empress who was the mother of Russia's last czar were interred in the Romanovs' royal crypt 78 years after her death.
Czarina Maria Feodorovna was the mother of Nicholas II, who was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. She fled to Denmark in 1919 and died in 1928.
The empress regarded the last decade of her life as exile, and wished to be buried in Russia.
Russian and Danish guards placed the wooden casket, covered with a bright yellow flag, near her husband, Czar Alexander III, in the royal crypt at the cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress on an island in the Neva River, as an orchestra played solemn music. A marble sarcophagus baring Maria Feodorovna's name was then placed in the cathedral.
"I am very glad that Empress Maria Feodorovna will now again be with her husband and her children ... it's great that they fulfilled the wish of Maria Feodorovna to be buried next to her family," said Alevtina Batalova, a 64-year-old former teacher who came to catch a glimpse of the procession.
Several hundred officials, guests and foreign dignitaries, including members of the British and Danish royal families, attended the ceremony, many holding candles and white roses and most of them wearing black. Many of the women wore broad-brimmed black mourning hats.
Tatiana Erdman, a great-great-granddaughter of Maria Feodorovna who lives in Colorado, said she was deeply moved by the occasion.
"It's very significant that Maria Feodorovna has finally returned home," Erdman told The Associated Press. "This event is also very meaningful because it gathers the big family of the Romanovs."
The pomp-filled events began with Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II leading prayers in St. Isaac's Cathedral, the principal church of the Romanov dynasty. He praised Maria Feodorovna as a true daughter of Russia.
"Having fallen deeply in love with the Russian people, the empress devoted a great deal of effort for the benefit of the Russian fatherland," Alexy said. "Her soul ached for Russia."
As the procession moved around the city, people crossed themselves, military officers saluted the cortege, and car drivers blew horns.
Many Russians felt the return of the czarina's remains was a meaningful step in restoring their appreciation of their country's complicated and tormented history.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Romanov family have been working for the remains of Maria Feodorovna to be sent to Russia.
"Today we have fulfilled the innermost will of the empress," said Culture Minister Alexander Sokolov. "It means the time has come to fill the gaps in our history and culture."
Maria Feodorovna initially was betrothed to Czar Alexander II's son, Grand Duke Nicholas Alexandrovich, but he died when the princess was 17. In his will, he asked that she marry his brother, which she did the following year, in 1866.
Her husband became czar in 1881 after the moderately reform-minded Alexander II was assassinated; Alexander III died in 1894.
People enter the Cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress for a burial ceremony for Czarina Maria Feodorovna in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II on Thursday led burial ceremonies for Czarina Maria Feodorovna, the Danish-born empress whose remains are to be interred in her adopted land 78 years after her death. Maria Feodorovna was the mother of Russia's last czar, Nicholas II, who was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. She went into exile in Denmark in 1919 and died in 1928. (AP Photo/Ivan Secretarev)
Danish guards of honour carry the coffin of Maria Fyodorovna, mother of Russia's last tsar, covered by an old Russian standard flag [the flag of the imperial family--MD] upon their arrival to St Petersburg. Fyodorovna's remains have arrived back in the country aboard a Danish naval frigate, 87 years after she fled the Bolshevik revolution, organisers said.(AFP/Interpress/Yevgeni Asmolov)
An honour guard of Russian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Empress Maria Fyodorovna, the wife of Tsar Alexander III and mother of Russia's last monarch, Nicholas II, in St. Isaac's cathedral in St. Petersburg, September 28, 2006. (Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)
Russian and Danish guards carry a wooden casket with remains of Czarina Maria Feodorovna during a funeral ceremony in the St. Isaac's Cathedral, the principal church of the Romanov dynasty, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II on Thursday led burial ceremonies for Czarina Maria Feodorovna, the Danish-born empress whose remains are to be interred in her adopted land 78 years after her death. Maria Feodorovna was the mother of Russia's last czar, Nicholas II, who was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. She went into exile in Denmark in 1919 and died in 1928. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A Russian woman bows as she mourns near the coffin containing the remains of Czarina Maria Feodorovna in Peterhof, outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006. The remains arrived in Russia from Denmark and will be buried near the grave of Russian Czar Alexander III, Czarina's husband, in St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral in St. Petersburg on Thursday. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Russian priests pray near a coffin of Russian Empress Maria Fyodorovna during a reburial ceremony in a church in St.Petersburg, September 26. Fyodorovna, the mother of the last Russian tsar, has been laid to rest next to her son in Russia's former royal capital Saint Petersburg following the return of her remains from Denmark, 87 years after she fled the Bolshevik revolution.(AFP/Interpress/File/Alexander Nikolayev)
A reburial ceremony is held in St Isaac's Cathedral in St Petersburg for empress Maria Fyodorovna, the mother of Russia's last tsar.
After the ceremony the coffin was carried to the Peter and Paul Fortress, the resting place of Russian tsars.
Members of the Romanov family and from several European royal families attended.
Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II led the proceedings and said of Maria Fyodorovna: "Her soul ached for Russia".
Her final resting place was beside the graves of her husband and son.