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After the extreme westernization of the eighteenth-century Tsars, Tsar Nicholas began to restore Russia, and the Russian autocracy, to her Byzantine and Orthodox roots.

ORTHODOX TSAR

Nicholas II Romanov

After the extreme westernization of the eighteenth-century Tsars, Tsar Nicholas began to restore Russia, and the Russian autocracy, to her Byzantine and Orthodox roots.

The reign of the meek and gentle Tsar Nicholas II gave an unparalleled opportunity to tens of millions of people both within and outside the Russian empire to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. Moreover, the strength of the Russian Empire protected and sustained Orthodoxy in other parts of the world, such as the Balkans and the Middle East. The Tsar considered it his sacred duty to restore to Russia her ancient traditional culture, which had been abandoned by many of the "educated" classes in favour of modern, Western styles.

Tsar Nicholas believed that a Tsar should be first of all a pious man himself, and then be prepared to enter into a close relationship with the Church.

Traditional church iconography was encouraged, and old churches were renovated. The Emperor himself took part in the laying of the first cornerstones and the consecration of many churches. He visited churches and monasteries in all parts of the country, venerating their saints. Moreover, he took a very active part in the glorification of new ones, sometimes urging on an unwilling Holy Synod.

In the words of Archpriest Michael Polsky, "In the person of the Emperor Nicholas II the believers had the best and most worthy representative of the Church, truly 'The Most Pious' as he was referred to in church services. He was a true patron of the Church, and a solicitor of all her blessings."

During the reign of Nicholas II, the Church reached her fullest development and power. The number of churches increased by more than 10,000. There were 57,000 churches by the end of the period. The number of monasteries increased by 250, bringing their total up to 1025. Ancient churches were renovated. The Emperor himself took part in the laying of the first cornerstones and the consecration of many churches. He visited churches and monasteries in all parts of the country, venerating their saints.

The Emperor stressed the importance of educating the peasant children within the framework of church and parish and, as a result, the number of parish schools grew to 37,000.

Christian literature flourished at this time. Excellent journals were published, such as Soul-Profiting Reading, Soul-Profiting Converser, The Wanderer, The Rudder, The Russian Monk, and the ever-popular The Russian Pilgrim. The Russian people were surrounded by spiritual nourishment as never before.