Born on 1 November 1864, Princess Elisabeth of Hesse and by Rhine was born in Bessungen, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Confederation; she was later known Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna (or Елизавета Фëдоровна Романова in Russia). A German princess by birth, her parents were Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine and Princess Alice of the United Kingdom. As such, she was also the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom as Alice was the Queen’s third child with her husband, Prince Albert.
After her birth, her parents named her Elisabeth Alexandra Luise Alix with her first name being after her paternal grandmother, Princess Elisabeth of Prussia and St Elizabeth of Hungary. Her last two names were after her parents.
The girl known as Ella in her family went on to marry Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia on 15 [3 O.S.] June 1884. They wed at in the chapel of the White Palace in St. Petersburg. Elizabeth then converted to the Russian Orthodox Church from Lutheranism in 1891; at the same time, she took the name Elizabeth Feodorovna. The couple would be childless but have two foster children. Sergei was assassinated in Moscow on 17 [4 O.S] February 1905 after a nitroglycerin bomb was thrown in his lap by a member of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party’s Combat detachment.
After Sergei’s passing, Elizabeth Feodorovna became a nun and founded the convent of Martha and Mary in the Russian Orthodox Church. The focus of the convent was to look after the poor and suffering in Moscow.
As with her sister, Empress Alexandra (and her husband Tsar Nicholas II and their children), Elizabeth Feodorovna was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918. She was 53 when she died in Alapayevsk alongside family, her late husband’s secretary and a fellow convent sister. They were all thrown in a pit 20 metres deep that was part of an abandoned iron mine. Grenades were also thrown on top of them. The fall did not kill them nor the grenade, so the pit was set ablaze.
Elizabeth is now a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church with her Feast Day on 5 July. She is known as Holy Martyr Elizabeth Feodorovna after her canonisation by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1992.
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