Baptism of Addie Elizabeth
On Sunday, December 9th, the parish family of St. Mary Magdalene welcomed the newly baptized warrior for Christ Addie Elizabeth to the Holy Orthodox Faith! She was blessed to have relics of her new patroness present to offer prayers for her before the throne of God!
During the homily for the day, Fr. Gabriel talked about the journey that the relics of St. Elizabeth took to get to St. Mary Magdalene in Fenton. Through that journey, we can learn a lot about the type of person Addie’s patroness was:
“This bone was there…when Elizabeth was born in the latter half of the 19thcentury. It no doubt spent time in a very luxurious crib, because she was a member of the Royal Household of Russia. As she grew older, Elizabeth was married and converted to Holy Orthodoxy. Despite her high position in society, she understood the importance that every human being had in the eyes of God…and spent a majority of her time organizing women’s groups to help the sick and needy in the streets of Moscow.
This bone was there…and it no doubt shook with indescribable sorrow, when on a cold February Day, Elizabeth watched as her husband was killed by an assassin’s bomb in the middle of the street.
And after a period of mourning over her lost spouse, Elizabeth did something that many of us could not imagine doing: She went and sought out her husband’s killer in prison, purchased a beautiful icon for him in his cell, and urged him to seek repentance for the evil that he had done in his life.
Elizabeth’s thoughts didn’t dwell on pity for herself…she didn’t seek revenge out of anger…she simply saw the soul of a lost human being, whom she knew that God loved…and cared for it with a Grace that goes beyond human logic.
This bone was there…when Elizabeth began to withdraw from her palace life, and entered into the Convent of St. Martha and Mary. She sold all of her nice clothes and jewels and distributed them to the poor. She moved out of her palace, and into a cell, and began to live her life as a nun. She continued to nurse the sick and the wounded…especially during the first World War, when she volunteered and hospitals on the battle front…seeing horrors that many of us could not imagine in our worst nightmares.
This bone was present…and was filled with deep sorrow when Elizabeth got the news that her brother in law, Tzar Nicholas II, was forced to abdicate the throne, and put under house arrest in Ekaterinburg by the Communists. She ignored the calls of her friends, warning her to abandon the convent and flee the country…putting her trust completely in God, and not worrying about the kingdoms of men. Then on Pascha in 1918, as she was shouting “Christ is Risen” with her sisters, Soviet soldiers stormed her convent, and ordered her to leave Moscow, in order to join the rest of the royal family in seclusion. So she left with one of her faithful sisters, Sister Barbara…and began her march towards the everlasting kingdom.
This bone was present…as soldiers took Elizabeth and Barbara to a place in the woods, and threw them both down a mine shaft along with other members of the Royal Family. As they landed on the hard ground, they knew that they would soon be in the embrace of the Heavenly Father, after they watched one of the soldiers throw a grenade into the entrance of the mine.
This bone was present…as villagers who heard the explosion rushed to the mineshaft, and heard the beautiful voices of Barbara and Elizabeth…who despite being fatally wounded and in tremendous amounts of pain, were spending their last waking moments singing hymns to the mother of God, and the Holy Trinity. Even in the face of death, with great pain and difficulty, did they offer praise to the God of Love, who was about to deliver them from torments.
This bone was present, when a few weeks later, the pro-tzarist armies came and took the holy relics of Elizabeth and Barbara out of the country…and buried them in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives. Eventually the bodies were exhumed, they were glorified as Saints of the Church, and this bone made it’s way over seas, and eventually found its way here to our little church in the woods, with the blessing of one of our sister churches.