Tuesday, August 4, 2009

“S” is for Saint

Specifically, St. Olga, the founder of Pskov. I know this is a stretch- but I just had to fit her in! Her story is one of relevant redemption that I find inspiring.

As you know, from “P” is for Pskov- St. Olga is the first name mentioned in Pskov history. When she met her husband, Prince Igor in the early 900s Olga was a peasant woman and Igor was so enthralled by her beauty that he brushed off some waiting princesses to marry her. They had a son together and Olga and Igor remained pagans as much of the county at that time. Igor was later murdered and Olga became the first female ruler of her region. She avenged her husband’s death by tracking down the murderers and “scalding them to death”. Whoa.

A few years later, she ventured to Constantinople where she converted into Christianity. Not a lot is recorded about her actual conversion from paganism- There is a text from her baptism: "Blessed are you among Russian women, for you have forsaken the darkness and have loved the Light. The Russian people shall bless you in all the future generations, from your grandson and great-grandson to your furthermost descendants." He instructed her in the truths of the Faith, rules of the Church, how to pray, and he explained the commands about fasting, chastity and charity. Some say that the clergyman baptizing her tried to marry her, but Olga “outwitted him” and used his own words of “chastity” against him. She said that it would be wrong for a goddaughter to marry her godfather. What started as a personal quest ended in Olga’s true conversion. She became the first Christian in Russia. Here is her statement of faith: "God's will be done! If it pleases God to have mercy upon my native Russian Land, then they shall turn their hearts to God, just as I have received this gift."

She devoted the rest of her life to converting pagans, building churches, and spreading the gospel. The Trinity Cathedral in Pskov was built by Olga at the River Velika at a spot pointed out to her from on high, according to the chronicler, by a "light-beam of the Thrice-Radiant Divinity”. The white church with three towers is the most famous landmark in Pskov.

In her lifetime, she worked endlessly to convert her son to Christianity. She died never knowing if her efforts were in vain. However, her grandson, Prince Vladimir, underwent a miraculous conversion in his life and helped to spread Christianity throughout Russia. With God, a tiny seed of faith can win an entire nation to Christ. St. Olga was God’s first chapter in Russia’s Holy Church. And just think, Baby Deetz is considered one of Olga’s “furthermost descendant” in this great story of grace and redemption!

1 comment:

  1. This was a great story of God's mercy & grace for all that believe. Baby Deetz will have quite a history to learn about someday! The moral of the story is and always will be GOD ALWAYS WINS! Momma