St. Elizabeth was born in 1864, the second of seven children.
She was the daughter of Ludwig IV, Grand-Duke of Hessen-Darmstadt and Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. In 1884, at the age of nineteen, Elizabeth married the Grand Duke Sergei, the son of Emperor Alexander II of Russia in two ceremonies, one Orthodox, the other Lutheran. Although drawn to eastern Christianity, Elizabeth was hesitant to join the Orthodox Church for fear of upsetting her immediate family. After two years of study and prayer, Elizabeth chose by conviction to become an Orthodox Christian. She was received into the faith on the eve of Holy Week in 1891. Of her entire family, only her grandmother, Queen Victoria, offered encouragement and support.
Elizabeth and her companions were imprisoned in Alapayevsk on May 20, 1918, until the fateful night of July 18. It was the feast-day of St. Sergius of Radonezh, her husband's namesday. That night, Elizabeth and Barbara were murdered, along with five members of the Imperial Family and their secretary. The sisters were blindfolded, beaten and thrown alive into a mine-shaft along with the others. Elizabeth was the first to be thrown in. As the soldiers mocked Elizabeth and beat her, she repeated the prayer of Christ, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” This was also the inscription engraved on the cross she planted at the site of her husband’s murder. After pushing their victims in, the soldiers tossed hand grenades down the mine. Like the early Christian martyrs, Elizabeth, mortally wounded, was heard praying and singing hymns to God until the following day.
Troparion Emulating the Lord's self-abasement on earth, overflowing with compassion for the suffering, you gave up royal mansions to serve the poor and disdained. In meekness, you took up a martyr's cross, perfecting the Savior’s image within you. O wise Elizabeth, together with your brave companion, Barbara, entreat Christ our God to save us!