Books on St. Elizabeth

The earliest book in any language to describe Saint Elizabeth’s convent (though it is not a biography) is

The Way of Martha and the Way of Mary
GRAHAM, Stephen
London, 1916

Graham was a prolific writer on Russian matters, including a wonderful account of the Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem before the Revolution, and deeply sympathetic to St Elizabeth. The book is very readable but the author understands little about Orthodox monasticism. Second-hand copies can still be obtained cheaply from internet suppliers.

An Unbroken Unity : a Memoir of Grand-Duchess Serge of Russia 1864-1918
London, 1964

The author was a Russian émigré who knew several people who were close to St Elizabeth. She was a popular historian and the book is reliable and engrossing. However Almedingen was not especially close to the Orthodox Church and this occasionally shows. Note that the subtitle gives the Saint’s name in her married court form. Again, this book can still be easily bought.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia : New Martyr of the Communist Yoke
New York, 1991 (there have been revised editions since)

This is the closest we have in English to a full “Saint’s Life” in the Orthodox tradition. It is also available in Russian and is widely known in Russia .The author is an émigré living in Australia. It is written with immense care and has many illustrations. Though not as readable as Almedingen, it is more Orthodox in every way. It makes considerable use of the Saint’s letters, many of which had never been published.

Ella : Princess, Saint and Martyr
WARWICK, Christopher
Chichester, 2006

There have been a number of recent books on the Saint, this is the only one worth mentioning. It is very carefully researched, making full use of the Royal archives at Windsor Castle and Hesse. It is however essentially a “royal” biography and not a saint’s life. With that caution in mind, Orthodox readers will find much interesting new material in it. Warwick has written a number of biographies of members of the British Royal Family.

The Martha-Mary Convent and Rule of Saint Elizabeth The New Martyr
Jordanville, NY, 1991

The monks of Jordanville have published a translation of the Saint’s Rule together with a fascinating description of the Community’s “Day.” This is not available in any of the above books, yet it is central to a proper understanding of Saint Elizabeth.

FINALLY, the latest (No.105 2009) issue of SOUROZH contains two good articles on the Saint and on her revived Moscow convent with beautiful illustrations.

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