Tsar Alexander I and Elizabeth Alexeievna
What is the legend of nun Silent Vera?
Vera Molchanista, commonly known as ‘Vera the Silent’ or ‘Silent Vera’, was a 19th Century Russian ascetic, hermetic nun from a nunnery in the Novgorod region of Russia. This otherwise obscure figure is most widely known for the rumour that she was in fact the Russian Emperor Alexander I’s wife, Elizabeth Alexeievna, who is said to have faked her own death in 1826 and assumed the identity of ‘Vera the Silent’.
Tsar Alexander I ruled from 1801 until December 1st 1825, when, officially at least, he died suddenly at the age of 47 after having contracted typhus (Vorobyov, 2015). His wife Elizabeth died the following year after a period of ill health. However, soon after Alexander’s death, rumours began to circulate that the emperor had faked his own death and was living under the assumed identity of Feodor Kuzmich (Liesowska, 2015), a Siberian monk. One theory was that Alexander had wished to live his final years as a holy man so as to repent his sins. When his wife Elizabeth died, similar rumours emerged.
In 2015, numerous sources (Liesowska, 2015; Vorobyov, 2015) reported that new analysis of the handwriting of both Alexander and Feodor Kuzmich had found them to be identical, and almost certainly written by the same person. Comparisons of the handwriting of Elizabeth Alexeievna and the nun ‘Vera the Silent’ were said to have produced similar findings. Other than that, there appears to be little other documented evidence to substantiate the rumours, and little explanation as to how and why the Emperor and his wife staged their own deaths and became Feodor Kuzmich and ‘Silent Vera’.
Vera Molchanista died in 1861. If the rumours were true, this would have made Vera/Elizabeth 82 years old.
Liesowska, A. (2015) ‘Russian tsar ‘lived secretly as monk in Siberia’ for decades after history books say he died’, The Siberian Times, July 24. Available at: (Accessed on 27 October 2016)
Vorobyov, R. (2015) ‘Tsar Alexander I may have secretly finished his life as a church elder’. Available at: (Accessed on 27 October 2016)