Sunday Club looks at Elisabeth of Russia (Romanova)

Prayer: Elisabeth Romanova forgave her husband’s murderer, gave up her royal status, wealth and possessions, devoted her life to serving the poor and sick as a nun, and died with the praises of God on her lips. Lord, grant us the grace to forgive those who hurt us, to give to those who need our help, and to praise you in every circumstance of life.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Pray for us Elisabeth Romanova, Pray for us, all saints of God.

Info: Elisabeth was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria and was born a German Princess.
She married into the Russian Royal Family; her husband, Sergei Alexandrovich, was a deeply religious man and through his example, Elisabeth became a Russian Orthodox.
Throughout her life, she helped those who were suffering and in the most need.
She started a number of charities who worked within the churches of Russia and was head of the Woman’s Committee of the Red Cross who helped soldiers during war time with medical care, clothes and food.
Her husband was killed during political unrest. After this took place, she decided to sell everything that was valuable and she set up a convent in 1909.
In her new life as a nun, she would care for the gravely ill at night, and would work with the other nuns in the poorest areas of Moscow during the day. She also rescued lots of children from criminal areas of the city.
When the political scene changed, and the Bolsheviks came to power, they did not like having the former princess around and saw her as a threat. They arrested her in 1918 and two months later, she was murdered.
She was taken with a number of other prisoners on 17th July 1918 to an abandoned iron mine and hand grenades were thrown down to blow them up, but it didn’t work, because after the explosions, they started singing hymns.
The prisoners’ bodies were not found until the 8th October 1918, still in the mine shaft. In her last hours, Elisabeth had used her nuns robes to bandage another person’s head. Even at the end, she was caring for the needs of others.
Before telling the children about the life of Elisabeth, explain to them that the saint and martyr for today was a princess. Get them to think and explore what they understand a princess to be. Use examples from Disney films about how princesses are portrayed.
Using a paper figure, get them to write or draw on one side, what they think of when they think of a princess (crown, nice hair, pretty dress, riches).
Once they have done this, tell them about the life of Princess Ella (Elisabeth Romanova), about her religious beliefs and her charity work and later on, her becoming a nun.
As the group what they think about this princess, does she match their picture?
On the reverse side of their figure get them to write or draw what Princess Ella was like.
Conclude by explaining that you can’t judge what people are like because of their circumstances. Just because Elisabeth was a princess and her husband was powerful, doesn’t mean that she saw herself as better than others, or removed from other people’s lives. She was a princess, but she wanted to help people, and care for them. She sold everything she had to help her do this, and that is why she is a saint.
Using magazines, newspapers and pictures from the internet get the kids to cut out two sets of pictures. The first should be of people and others think makes our society great, for example celebrities, and beauty adverts. The second should be of people showing people are great by serving other people, for example charity adverts which show happy people getting food and clean water, or refugees finding welcome in a different country. Get the children to closely look at the faces of the people in the two groups. Which group looks happier and involved in what they’re doing?
Tell the story of Elisabeth selling all her riches and dedicating her life to serving the poor. Would we remember her if she hadn’t done this great thing? Would she still be a person we can take example from?
The story of Princess Ella works well with the story of the rich man asking Jesus how to get into heaven, Mark 10. 17-22.
Ask the group ‘what do we use our hands for?’ Compile a list.
When we’re young, adults will tell us what to do with our hands, ‘Don’t touch that’, ‘Don’t pick your nose’, ‘Wash your hands’. As we get older, we can decide for ourselves what we do with our hands. We can use them to do good or bad things. What are some of the difficult decisions that we have to make as children and as adults?
Look at the story of Mark 10. 17-22, the rich man wanted to follow Jesus, and was obviously devout following the Law, but he loved his wealth and the stuff he had too much, and this stopped him from being able to follow Jesus.
What stops us from following Jesus today?
For Ella, although she was a faithful Christian while she was married, it was only after he husband died and she was able to get rid of all her wealth that she was able to dedicate her life to working for Christ in the poorest areas of Russia. Once she got rid of the things that were stopping her from doing this, she was able to live a great life, helping 100’s and 1000’s of people.
What might be stopping you?

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Minor Canon Youth Chaplain at St Albans Cathedral. Dog owner, historian, technology geek, pilgrim.

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