The New Martyr Elizabeth

Tamara Penwell's icon of The New Martyr Elizabeth

Elizabeth (Ella) was the daughter of Princess Alice of Hesse and the favourite granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Ella married the Grand Duke Serge of Russia. Her sister Alexandra was the last Tzarina of Russia, the wife of Tzar Nicholas II. After the assassination of her husband in February 1905 Elizabeth became a nun. She bought an estate of four buildings with her personal funds and transformed them into a convent with a chapel, a hospital, the house for the sisters, an orphanage for girls, with a school and a library. She named it the Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy and dedicated her life to the care of the poor, sick, and needy and the orphans of Moscow and the surrounding area.

In the horror of the Russian revolution Elizabeth was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, together with her two cell-attendants and thrown down a disused iron mine shaft.

Her remains were recovered and smuggled out of the Soviet Union. Eventually Elizabeth was buried in the church of Mary Magdalene about 4km from Gethsemane, where she had once expressed her wish to be buried.

New Martyr Elizabeth - The AbbessNew Martyr Elizabeth - PrincessNew Martyr Elizabeth - Princess

In painting an icon we do not aim at creating a photographic likeness but transform the features following the icon aesthetic, however preserving the individual features and identity of the person depicted.