Feast Day: July 11
When Olga’s husband, Igor of Kiev, was killed, she became the regent, or the ruler in charge, of Russia until her son, Sviatoslav, came of age. Because a neighboring tribe had killed her husband, Olga was bent on revenge and had hundreds in the tribe brutally killed.
Olga later traveled to Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. There she converted to Christianity, with the help of Emperor Constantine VII and the Patriarch of Constantinople. At her baptism, she was given the name Helena, after Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great.
When Olga returned home, she tried to convince her son to convert to Christianity, which he did not. But Sviatoslav did agree not to persecute Christians. This was a crucial turning point in that area. Despite the people’s resistance to Christianity, Olga built churches in Kiev, Pskov, and other places.
Due to Olga’s influence in the evangelization of Russia, she was canonized as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547, nearly 600 years after her death. The Greek Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, churches of the Lutheran Byzantine Rite, and Western Catholics in Russia also venerate her as a saint.
(Image © Olga Tucher / Shutterstock.com)