4 / 17 JULY 2023: The Feast of the Holy Royal Martyrs was solemnly celebrated at the Diocesan Cathedral in London, the lower Altar of which is dedicated to their sacred memory. The Ruling Hierarch of the Diocese, His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe, headed the Divine Services of the Altar Feast.
The Vigil on Sunday evening was kept in the lower church itself, where a particularly beautiful icon of the Holy Royal Martyrs adorns the iconostasis. On the Feastday proper, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in upper church. Vladyka Irenei was greeted with the traditional bread and salt and prayerfully headed the Liturgy, co-served by the Cathedral clergy: Archpriests Vitaly Serapinas, Yaroslav Hudymenko, and Deacon Andrei Borisas, together with the Diocesan Chancellor, Archpriest Paul Elliott, and visiting clergy Archpriest Stephen Platt (Diocese of Sourozh) and Archpriest Goran Spaic (Serbian Diocese in the UK).
During the Hours before the Liturgy, two pious Altar Servers of the Cathedral were tonsured as Readers: Wilfred Buckland and Sergei Vilshenko. Being amongst the very frequent and regular servers in the temple, the faithful rejoiced in this elevation to a higher level of divine service, and congratulations were offered to them after the Liturgy.
The homily for the feastday was offered by Archpriest Stephen Platt of the Oxford Parish of the Diocese of Sourozh, who with the blessing of his Ruling Hierarch came to the Cathedral’s Altar Feast to join the resident clergy on the occasion. In the words of his homily, Father Stephen noted the example of selfless love and forgiveness exemplified in the life of the Imperial Martyrs, whose own lives were intertwined with the history and local populace of the British Isles. Referring to St Olga’s letter, in which she conveyed her father’s desire that no revenge be sought for his persecution and mistreatment, Father Stephen called upon all the faithful to learn from this example of forgiveness, ‘which seeks to overcome evil not with evil but with love’. The homily touched the hearts of those present, inspiring them to live the ideals of the Gospel more deeply.
Following the Liturgy, a Cross Procession was made around the Cathedral and a moleben served in the lower church, before the sacred icon of the Royal Martyrs. A festive meal was then provided by the Sisterhood, with faithful, clergy and guests conversing together.