Can you imagine discussing religion with Rasputin, spiritual advisor to Czarina Alexandra, the wife of Nicholas II of Russia?

When Horace Ashton traveled the world with President-Elect William Howard Taft in 1908, he had an audience with Russia’s last royal couple. The czarina asked, “How did such a young man become the press liaison officer with President Taft’s party?”

“I was a war correspondent in the Russo-Japanese War. After that I entered a Buddhist monastery in China because I am intensely interested in comparative religion. Then I became President Roosevelt’s official White House photographer, and he assigned me to accompany President Taft,” Horace explained.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “You are a student of comparative religion! You must meet and talk with our ‘man of God,’ Rasputin. Are you free tomorrow morning?”

To find out how this meeting went, please read The Spirit of Villarosa and Horace Ashton’s account of this two-hour conversation.

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