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From princess to martyr: Conference in Russia explores legacy of Duchess Elizabeth

From princess to martyr: Conference in Russia explores legacy of Duchess Elizabeth
A conference in Moscow tells the story of a duchess in the Russian royal family. She sold off her own jewelry to establish a convent that aided soldiers during WWI, and was hailed as a martyr after the Revolution.

The Elizabethan Legacy Today conference kicked off at Tsaritsyno Palace on Wednesday. It is dedicated to Grand Duchess Elizabeth (1864-1918) of the Romanov dynasty and explores the royal family’s history of philanthropy in late imperial Russia.

A German princess and granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria, Elizabeth joined the Russian court after marrying Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. Her younger sister tied the knot with Tsar Nicholas II.

The duchess had a tragic life, as her husband was killed by a terrorist in a bombing attack near the Kremlin in 1905. A decade later, she was executed by the Bolsheviks, shortly after the October Revolution.

After her husband’s death, Elizabeth sold off her jewelry to establish a convent in Moscow. It ran a free hospital and a soup kitchen. The convent also held various charitable services for orphans, as well as overburdened mothers with many children, who had to make their living by working at factories.

When World War I erupted, the nuns at the convent took care of the sick and wounded soldiers.

For her philanthropic endeavors and the circumstances of her death, Elizabeth was canonized as a martyr by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The conference is attended by historians, members of various charities, and church officials. Guests from Israel and Germany are also slated to participate.

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