Sunday, July 24, 2011

St. Olga the Wise

Joyous feast! С праздником! St. Olga the Equal-to-the-Apostles, was the wife of Grand Prince Igor of Kiev and grandmother of Grand Prince St. Vladimir of Kiev. Already during Grand Prince Igor's reign Orthodoxy was becoming widespread in Rus', although neither Igor nor the Saint embraced the Faith at that time. After her husband's death St. Olga became the regent for her son Grand Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev. During her regency St. Olga regularly traveled throughout Rus' to ensure the peace and development of the realm.

In 954 St. Olga, having entrusted the government to Svyatoslav, left at the head of a large diplomatic mission to Constantinople. Awed by the beauty of the city and its many churches, St. Olga accepted baptism at the hands of Patriarch Theophylact under the name Helena, with Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrigenitus becoming her godfather. Despite this close spiritual relationship the emperor refused St. Olga's request to have a metropolitan elected for the Orthodox Church in Rus' and she left the imperial city in disappointment.

Despite her failure to have a shepherd sent to Kiev for the Orthodox there, upon her return from Constantinople St. Olga set about energetically strengthening the life of the faithful in Rus' by sponsoring the construction of a number of churches, the most famous amongst them the future Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom. During this time paganism also rallied, with some of those newly baptized being martyred and a bishop sent to Rus' from the Church of Rome being chased out of the country.

St. Olga ultimately died in sorrow in 969 having served in effect as co-ruler with her son and having failed to have Rus' converted en masse to the Orthodox Faith. Her funeral was served by Kiev's clergy, after which she was buried in one of the city's churches. Her relics were soon glorified by miracles and after the Baptism of Rus' St. Olga became even more widely venerated throughout newly Orthodox Rus'.

More on St. Olga's life can be found here. May her blessing and prayers be with us all!

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