Born on 17 May 1868, the day of the Holy Job the Long-Suffering, Nicholas was the eldest son of Crown Prince Alexander Alexandrovich (the future Emperor Alexander III) and Grand Duchess Maria Feodorvna (the future Empress). He received an excellent education under the supervision of his father, speaking fluently Russian, English, French, German, and Italian, and learning Russian and world history, Russian literature, and the art of warfare.
In 1884, Nicholas met the future Empress Alexandra, then Princess Alice Victoria Helen Louise Beatrix von Hessen-Darmstadt, at the wedding of the latter's sister, Grand Duches-Martyr Elizabeth Fyodorovna with the Emperor's uncle, Grand Duke Sergey Alexandrovich. Princess Alice was a daughter of Prince Ludwig von Hessen-Darmstadt and Princess Alice and a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England. The two became good friends, a friendship that later grew into love. In 1894, Nicholas received a blessing from his father to wed Princess Alice on the condition that she become Orthodox. On October 20, 1894, Emperor Alexander III died at the imperial palace in Livadia, Crimea. On the next day, Princess Alice was received into the Orthodox faith and given the name Alexandra Feodorovna. The two were married in a low-key ceremony on November 14, 1894.
In February 1917, during the February Revolution, Nicholas reluctantly abdicated the throne, hoping that doing so might save the nation some violence. After the Bolshevik (October) revolution, he and his family were exiled to Siberia, where they were detained under house-arrest. On July 16, 1918, the family was lined up in the basement and shot. The bodies were buried in an unmarked grave.
In 1991, in Yekaterinburg, Sibera, their bodies were exhumed. DNA testing confirmed that they were indeed the Romanovs.
The remains of Emperor Nicholas II and his family in the Catherine Side Chapel of the Ss Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Propers for Tsar Nicholas and The Royal Martyrs of Russia - 17 July
Gracious Lord, who hast in every age sent men and women who have given their lives for the message of thy love: Inspire us, we beseech thee, with the memory of those martyrs of the Gospel; like thy servants Nicholas and the Royal Family of Russia, whose faithfulness led them in the way of the cross; and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to thy Son's victory over sin and death; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lesson - Jeremiah 15:15-21
The Holy Gospel - St. Mark 8:34-38