Saint Elizabeth was born in Germany in 1864 to a noble family. At age 14 she was orphaned, and was raised in part by her grandmother, Queen Victoria of Great Britain. She married into the Russian Royal Family in 1884, joining to her husband, Grand Duke Sergei. Raised in the Lutheran faith, she decided to convert to Orthodoxy seven years later. When her husband was assassinated in 1905, Grand Duchess Elizabeth sold most of her possessions and opened a women's monastery in Moscow, which ministered to the poor, sick, and orphans of the city.
After the communists took control of Russia, Lenin ordered Elizabeth's arrest. Together with several other members of the Royal Family, she was exiled and constantly moved from place to place. On July 18, 1918, the captors beat Elizabeth and the others and cast them into a mine shaft. All but one of them survived the fall, and they began to sing hymns. One of the guards threw a pair of grenades into the pit, which exploded, but the singing continued. Finally, the mine was set on fire.
Their remains were recovered and buried at the Russian Mission in Beijing, and later moved to the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, where they are enshrined today. Saint Elizabeth was glorified in 1981 by the Russian Church Abroad and in 1992 by the Church of Russia. Her feast is celebrated on July 5/18.