When the priest regained his composure Rasputin did not appear to be the horrible monster that he just had seemed to be. The priest was hearing him say, "Yes, little father, that is correct, you speak the truth."
Following this meeting both Father Feofan and his students shared doubts. The doubts of the students centered around their studies. They questioned, was all their studying worth the effort. This peasant who had spoken to them came closer to the living word than they had, and maybe ever would come.
Father Feofan's doubts were of a more serious nature, they concerned Rasputin himself. If he was a holy man how could he speak so blasphemously about sin? Was his words part of the divine truth, or was the man the Devil emissary? Father Feofan hoped this matter would be settled at the next morning's meeting between Rasputin and the bishop.
Bishop Hermogen was not take in by Rasputin's saintliness but liked his peasant attitude. He immediately saw this man could help the Orthodox Church which was fighting the tendency toward westernization. He visualized Rasputin as being able to influence his fellow peasants as well as serving political purposes.
Hermogen's first step was to introduce Rasputin to the monk- priest of Tsarytsin, Iliodor. He was the church orator of Russia. The meeting occurred in the monk's cell. He had been praying, intending to see how long his visitors would patiently wait. Although he finished praying he felt he had been intruded upon, for this he forever held Rasputin in both admiration and distrust. All three men eventually went to the Central Committee to get Rasputin seated. Late in the session when a member spoke against Rasputin's admission Iliodor felt himself wanting to side with the member, but at the same instance he experienced similar sensations of dizziness as Father Feofan had and against his will voted with the Committee to seat Rasputin.
Current as well as historical Russian events soon placed Rasputin in the limelight of politics. The marriage of Nicholas II and Princess Alexandra of Hesse occurred shortly before the death of his father Alexander III.
Many considered Nicholas II, or Nikolai as he was called, a weak tsar. Whether this was true or not is still debatable. The political climate in Russia was unstable, to say the least, at the time of his succession at the age of twenty-three. For decades Russia had been riding the roller-coaster of more freedom toward democracy for the peasants and away from totalitarianism. Nicholas II's grandfather, Alexander II, pretty much started the political climate of unrest by starting referendums for more peasants' rights. After seeing his father assassinated Alexander III reversed the political policies and established more totalitarian policies. Hating all ideas of reforms he established "land captains" in every rural areas who acted as sinister police agents dealing ruthlessly with any type of revolutionary action. Many attempts were made on his life. Finally he was injured in a train bombing and died shortly afterwards.
This was the Russia which Nicholas II inherited. Much of the time he and Tsaritsa Alexandra, who had been nicknamed Sunshine as a child and still called her by her husband, resided at their private resident of Tsarskoe Selo. There were several reasons for this. According to one biographer of Rasputin the couple were very much in love, they always considered their marriage an extended honeymoon. This fact itself would influence Russian politics. Also, Tsaritsa Alexandra was from a German, Protestant country which did not set a bit well with her mother-in-law. The Tsaritsa converted to the Russian Orthodox religion upon her marriage, but the result was that there evolved two courts within the palace; her court, and the inner-court of ladies devoted to her mother-in-law. The Tsar and Tsaritsa naturally were more comfortable at Tsarskoe Selo. The Tsar conducted all the possible business that he could from there.
The couple had two daughters but no son, or tsesarevich, who would be the heir to the Empire. Then the Tsesarevich Alexei was born. Soon it was discovered the boy was a hemophiliac and there was no cure. Alexandra knew she had given the disease to her son, one of her uncles had suffered from it. Her daughters were not affected, she was told, the mother could only give the disease to a male child. This fact weighed heavily upon her.
Alexei childhood was miserable. He was unable to run and play like other children, especially his older sisters. He was always cautioned against doing things because the slightest bump or bruise would start him bleeding internally which might last for days, or might not stop at all. This annoyed him. He was always asking why he could not play like others. His parents gave him every safe thing they thought of that he might play with, but he still was unhappy sitting among the toys but not being able to play like a normal child.
A special attendant was assigned to guard the boy, a faithful sailor named Derevenko. But even Derevenko's alert attention was not always enough to guard against the boy's natural tendencies. According to one story, Derevenko and the child's nurse had taken Alexie to the park and the boy suddenly jumped up, making a careless movement and fell backwards. The sailor was instantly there to catch the boy in his arms, but the damage had been done.
When undressed in bed his little body showed blue swellings, indicating internal hemorrhaging which was so dangerous to his life. The bleeding continued for three days with the Tsaritsa at his bedside seeing him in agony. The doctors were called but they could not help the sick child.
Then late one night when the Tsaritsa, in night clothes, was sleeping close to her son there was an unnoticed knock on the door of the room. It was the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, affectionately called Stana, entered. She comforted the Tsaritsa and then quickly told her that Alexei would soon be healed and the Tsaritsa would even win the love of the court ladies.
The Tsaritsa anxiously desired to know how this would happen. The Duchess explained to her a holy man had arrived in the capitol. She explained he had attended mass in the church of John of Cronstadt. The Duchess assured her he was a holy man, because at the beginning of the communion service Father John had stopped and said to the mostly women communicants, "Stop! to-day we have a worthier among us who must first partake of Holy Communion--the simple pilgrim who stands there in your midst."
The Duchess explained she herself had intended to go to that mass but had not because of an unexpected visitor, but other ladies told her of the incident. They described Rasputin and said he seemed more holier than Father John and possessed more divine power than the doctors attending the Tsesarevich.
The Tsaritsa was not convinced immediately. There had been others who tried to cure the Tsesarevich and failed. Some had been physicians whom the Tsaritsa and Tsar knew had tried helping the boy not only for the sake of Russia but for their own ambitions. So there was cause for skepticism. But later, the Grand Duchess told of the God-fearing, middle-classed widow Bashmakova came ahead of Father Grigori telling of the sick he had healed within his own village and other miracles he had performed. She assured the Empress the this holy man was a true Russian. Father Feofan had brought Rasputin to the palace to meet her and her husband, he had also met the Tsar who liked him.
The Tsaritsa knew this for the Tsar had previously informed her. He was also glad that Stana had comforted the Empress as she and her sister Militsa only could. Knowing the Tsaritsa understood this the Grand Duchess continued by saying she had told Rasputin of the sick Alexei and he said, "Just tell the Empress not to weep any more. I will make her youngster well again! Once he is a soldier, he will have red cheeks again."
The Grand Duchess also reminded the Empress of what one of her son's physicians, M. Philippe, had told her as he left when unable to help the child anymore: "He prophesied that God would send you a new friend to help and protect you." She assured the Empress that Rasputin was the promised friend.
Two nights later the friend came. Secretly he enter through a rear entrance of the palace to avoid notice of all the guards. He was brought by the Grand Duchess who was a frequent visitor at Tsarskoe Selo. They went to the nursery quarters where the Tsar and Tsaritsa were waiting. As was his peasant custom Rasputin vigorously embraced and kissed them both.
He then knelt and prayed at the sacred icons in the corner of the room. Then he went to the child's bed and made the sign of the cross over him. The feverish child who had suffered in pain many days woke up and looked at the stranger who began telling him that nothing would hurt him anymore and he continued rubbing his hands over the boy's body from head to toe.
Miraculously the child recovered and Father Grigori came repeatedly telling him stories of life in Siberia. The boy came to call him little Father. He had asked his governess who the strange man was, and she who was in a dreamy state answered, "A holy man who will make you well again. God Himself sent him to your papa and mama."
Needless to say the Empress herself shared the same feelings. The first time Rasputin left the boy's room she burst into tears of gratitude, grabbing and kissing the peasant's hands.
Rasputin's attendance with the royal family lasted for some time. What he had done for her son made the Tsaritsa cleave to him; she knew in his protection the Tsesarevich would remain well. The Tsar also liked him, but was not struck at first by his awe of holiness as his wife was. But soon gossip of Rasputin's conduct surfaced around the Court. Those wishing to aspire and become closer to the royal family quickly made friends with Rasputin, this included the physician Dr. Badmaev, who had not been able to help the boy, and John of Cronstadlt who surely could not admit being wrong about Rasputin's holiness.
Still others jealous or disliking Rasputin spread rumors of his scandalous lifestyle. When the Tsaritsa was told how Rasputin kissed and fondled his female disciples she brushed it off by saying this was his way of showing Christian love as the apostles had. Soon it was rumored the Tsaitsa and her daughters were darning Rasputin's shirts. It was also said he had slept with the Tsesarevich's governess. The governess of the older daughters persuaded the Tsar to stop Rasputin from going into the girl's rooms to hear their night prayers. As these rumors grew the royal family soon met