YEKATERINBURG, Russia (ChurchMilitant.com) - On Tuesday, throngs of Russian faithful gathered east of the Ural Mountains to honor the memory of their king.
Marking the centenary of the murder of Czar Nicholas II, an estimated 75,000 Orthodox made a pilgrimage to the Church of the Blood in the city of Yekaterinburg.
The church stands atop the site where, shortly after 2 a.m. on July 17, 1918, Communist agents herded the royal family into a basement and shot them to death. Ending three hundred years of Romanov rule, the massacre was a message to all Russia: The future lies with Lenin.
Tuesday's Mass began at midnight, with Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, presiding and a host of bishops concelebrating.
As the liturgy ended at around 2:30 a.m., the bells of the church began to toll, marking the moment of the murders. With Patriarch Kirill leading the way, the congregants then set out — by foot — on a nearly 13-mile pilgrimage to the Monastery of the Holy Imperial Passion-Bearers, built in 2001 to mark the site where the royal family was first buried.
Once the Romanovs were dead, Lenin's soldiers loaded their bloodied bodies into a cart and dragged them through the night to a mine shaft outside Yekaterinburg, where they were unceremoniously dumped. Worried royalist sympathizers might recover the bodies, Communist agents later transferred the bodies a more hidden burial site.
Singing hymns to Christ, over the next four hours, the vast crowd traced the route the Communists had taken a century before to dispose of the czar and his family.
Arriving at the monastery at dawn, the marchers assembled to hear Patriarch Kirill's reflection on the massacre.
Russia must learn "from this difficult and bitter experience," he said. "We truly should have lasting immunity against any ideas and any leaders who call on us to embrace some new, unknown happy future through the destruction of our life, our traditions and our faith."
The murder of the royal family came early in the savage civil war launched by Lenin's atheist footsoldiers, the Bolsheviks. Years later, at its end, millions were dead and Russia lay in ruins.
The Communist victory resulted in the total overthrow of the Christian order, replacing it with a new regime where the state was worshipped in place of God. Anything — and anyone — standing in its way was targeted for destruction. Individuals were cut down and institutions uprooted and replaced.
But this was just the beginning of sorrows. From there, as prophesied by Our Lady of Fatima, these same errors spread throughout the world.