“She Stopped at Every Grave in the Entire Cemetery, Praying for Her Fallen Lieges.” Memories of the Royal Family

Daughter of the physician in ordinary E. Botkin, Tatiana Melnik (born Botkina) recalls: “Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna was weakened physically and mentally. Although she did not endure the position of a surgical nurse for long, she did not give up her service at the infirmary and continued to work in the wards, cleaning up after the sick together with other nurses. 

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna at the infirmary

Her Majesty, if her health permitted, also came daily to the court hospital, or her Majesty’s own infirmary, where the grand duchesses worked. Occasionally, Her Majesty was engaged in dressings, but more often, she simply went around the wards and worked there, while sitting at the head of the most severely ill patients. There were cases when patients declared that they could not do without her Majesty, or that only her presence relieved their pains. She would come to visit such patients in any infirmary and sit with them for two or three hours wishing to relieve the sufferings of the unfortunate as much as she could.

Tsarina Alexandra with a patient

The following incident happened at a funeral of an officer who died in one of the infirmaries in Tsarskoe Selo. One of our officer friends went to the evening memorial service and later told us how deeply he was impressed by what he had seen. The service had not yet begun, and a large number of people gathered in church.  The air became stuffy, and our friend went out into the street. It was getting dark. In the twilight of a spring day, the crosses on the graves were reflecting the light of the setting sun. Suddenly, an automobile stopped at the fence of the cemetery. A woman in black attire stepped out and, entering the fence, stopped at the very first grave, making the sign of the cross. Out of modesty, the officer moved as far back as possible. He was expecting the woman to leave or go inside the church. To his great surprise, finishing her prayer at the first grave, she moved on to the next one, where she also stopped to read a prayer. She continued to pray before each cross until she had gone through the entire cemetery. When she reached the officer, he recognized the Empress in her. She was alone at night, praying for the souls of her deceased subjects.”

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