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Portrait of Empress Elizabeth Alexeyevna in a Park in Tsarskoye Selo | George Dawe | Russia | 1820s | oil | Hermitage | Inventory #: ЭРЖ-611

A starets is an elder of a Russian Orthodox monastery who functions as venerated adviser and teacher. Elders or spiritual fathers are charismatic spiritual leaders whose wisdom stems from God as obtained from ascetic experience. It is believed that through ascetic struggle, prayer and Hesychasm (seclusion or withdrawal), the Holy Spirit bestows special gifts onto the elder including the ability to heal, prophesy, and most importantly, give effective spiritual guidance and direction.

Princess Elizabeth(later Queen Elizabeth I I),Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) King George VI and his mother Queen Mary.

Yemelyan Pugachev - He was a Don Cossack with a compelling nature who gathered a vast army of misfits, renegades, and runaway serfs and confronted the Imperial armies of Catherine the Great. His was the largest rebellion of the 17th century in Russia. He claimed to be Catherine’s murdered husband, Emperor Peter III, come to overthrow the German-born Empress and restore “himself” to his rightful throne. He was eventually brought down, tried for treason and executed.

Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich (1878 – 1918) and Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882 – 1960), siblings of Nicholas II of Russia; 1880s. #Romanov