In 1897, Grigori moved out of his home and lived in a monastery for many months. Brother Makary, a sage living near the monastery, inspired Rasputin to live a life of austerity.
Soon, he became a religious ascetic and claimed to have seen 'Our Lady of Kazan,' who is believed to be a form of Mother Mary. By the year 1900, he had become well-known as a wanderer, also known as a 'strannik.'
In 1903, he traveled to see the 'Monastery of the Caves' in the Ukranian capital of Kiev. In Russia, his claims of having visions made him a mystical phenomenon amongst the elite class and the bishop
Rasputin also planned to request the Orthodox Saint John of Kronstadt to provide financial help for constructing a church in the village of Kazan. During his trip, he stayed at the ‘Saint Alexander Nevsky Monastery’ where he got acquainted with Saint Hermogenes.
Grigori's spiritual powers also impressed Russian archbishop Theophanes of Poltava, Grand Duchess Milica of Montenegro, and Princess Anastasia. In 1905, the Grand Duchess Milica introduced him to the Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and Tsarina Alexandra.
In 1906, the tsar, who had earlier seen troubled times, put his faith in Grigori. He asked Grigori to cure future Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin's daughter, who was hurt as a result of a bombing incident. The healer was able to provide relief to the injured girl, impressing Tsar Nicholas II.
The same year, he was invited by the tsar to pay a visit to Alexei, the son of Nicholas II and Alexandra. The young child, who had hemophilia B, was bleeding profusely, resulting from an injury. The doctors were unable to treat him, and concluded that Alexei would not survive.
Rasputin, however, assured the royal family that Alexei would be cured but the healing process would take some time. He asked them to stop administering the aspirin prescribed by the doctors, prayed for the boy's recovery, and Alexei was better by the next day. This miraculous act sealed the tsar’s faith in the spiritual healer and his powers.
With Grigori's increasing popularity, the count of his enemies also began to rise. In 1907, the intuitive healer faced severe controversy when he was accused of being a womanizer. These allegations, however, could not be proved, and the case was withheld for a brief period of time.
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In 1911, along with other ardent pilgrims, the ascetic traveled to places like Patmos, Tripoli, Constantinople, Beirut, Cyprus, Jaffa, and finally Jerusalem. He also took out time to meet Orthodox priest Iliodor, who himself had a large group of followers.
The next year, another round of controversies followed Rasputin. His acquaintances Hermogenes and Iliodor accused him of having an intimate relationship with the tsarina.
They even provided the tsar with a set of letters written by Alexandra and her daughters as proof. The conspirators were soon dismissed, since the tsar had complete faith in Rasputin.
Several attempts were made to sever the relationship that had formed between Grigori and Nicholas II's family, but to no avail.
This bond strengthened when the tsar's son Alexei needed treatment once again in 1912. When Grigori was summoned by Alexandra, the child experienced immediate relief, though it took him almost a year to recover completely.
By 1914, Grigori had become an influential person in the Russian political scene. The tsar and tsarina blindly acknowledged his suggestions, and they were mere puppets in the hands of the psychic.
He even suggested that ‘World War I’ would prove to be catastrophic for Russia, and that it would be better to make peace with the Germans. This, however, was a suggestion that the tsar did not pay heed to, and it cost him his empire.
Personal Life & Legacy
On February 2, 1887, Rasputin got married to Praskovya Fedorovna Dubrovina. The healer and his wife had two sons—Dmitri and Varvara—and a daughter named Maria.
In July 1914, an attempt to assassinate Rasputin was made by a masked woman. The murder attempt stemmed from increasing jealousy of the healer’s close ties with the tsar. Grigori survived the assassination attempt after a doctor performed surgery to save his life.
Later, Saint Iliodor and statesman Vladimir Dzhunkovsky admitted that they had planned the murder.
Prince Felix Yusupov, the husband of the tsar's only niece Irina Aleksandrovna, invited Rasputin to his palace in December 1916. When the healer reached his palace, he was murdered by Yusupov, who laced his food with poison, and then shot him to death.
Grigori’s mortal remains were interred at the 'Chesme Church' near the tsar's palace. The funeral was attended by the royal family and a few other friends.
Shortly after the tsar abdicated the throne in 1917, Grigori’s body was exhumed and burned by a troop of soldiers.