Saint Nicholas II reigned as the last Tsar (Emperor) of Russia from 1894 to 1917. His rule saw the liberalization and eventual fall of the Russian Empire in the Bolshevik Revolution, which ushered in the Soviet communism which was incredibly destructive to the Russian Church.
After his abdication, Saint Nicholas and the Romanov royal family were arrested and were taken from place to place. Despite the adversity, he and his wife Alexandra relied on their Orthodox faith in Christ, and instructed their children in it. On July 17 (4 O.S.), 1918, the Royal Family was executed by firing squad.
Irrespective of any political criticism about the Tsar's rule, Saint Nicholas and his family are recognized by the Orthodox Church as martyrs and passion-bearers for the exemplary Christ-like way in which they faced suffering and death.
The Royal Martyrs and Passion-Bearers of Russia are commemorated on July 17 (4 O.S.). This 20th century icon pre-dates Saint Nicholas' glorification, as he was venerated as a martyr for decades before.
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