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St Olga of Kyiv

St Olga of Kyiv: Ukraine’s Patron Saint of Defiance and Vengeance


In the rich tapestry of history, certain figures stand out, not only for their deeds but for the enduring legends that surround them. St Olga of Kyiv, the patron saint of Ukraine, is one such luminary. Her story is one of remarkable defiance and vengeance, and it continues to captivate hearts and minds.

The Early Life of St Olga of Kyiv

Saint Olga’s tale begins in the 9th century, a time when Kyivan Rus was a burgeoning civilization. Born into a noble family, she entered the pages of history through her marriage to Prince Igor I of Kyiv. Yet, it was in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination that her true strength would emerge.

The Murder of Prince Igor

The murder of Prince Igor at the hands of the Drevlians, a neighboring tribe, marked a turning point in Saint Olga’s life. Fueled by grief and a thirst for justice, she embarked on a journey that would solidify her place in history.

The Veil of Deception

In a calculated move, Saint Olga sent word to the Drevlians, indicating her willingness to marry their Prince Mal. It was a ruse that masked her true intentions. Upon her arrival in the Drevlian city of Iskorosten, the stage was set for a daring act of retribution.

The Burning of Iskorosten

The story of Saint Olga’s vengeance is most famously associated with the burning of Iskorosten. In a twist of poetic justice, she ordered the city’s bathhouse to be set ablaze while the Drevlian elites were inside, celebrating her arrival. The act was devastating and symbolized the fiery resolve of a woman wronged.

Nicholas Roerich’s Saint Olga

Defiance and Conversion to Christianity

Saint Olga’s defiance and thirst for vengeance are legendary, but her story takes another turn. She later embraced Christianity and played a significant role in the conversion of Kyivan Rus. Her influence extended beyond her time, shaping the spiritual legacy of the region.

Legacy and Canonization

Saint Olga’s legacy endures, and she was later canonized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Her feast day is celebrated on July 24th, a day that honors her life and contributions to Christianity.

The Complex Figure of Saint Olga

St Olga of Kyiv remains a complex figure in history, embodying both the thirst for vengeance and the embrace of faith. Her story transcends time, serving as a testament to the enduring power of individuals who defy the norm.

Influence in Modern Ukraine

Saint Olga’s influence extends into modern Ukraine. Her unwavering determination and commitment to justice serve as a source of inspiration for many. She embodies the spirit of resilience and strength in the face of adversity.

The Legend Lives On

Saint Olga of Kyiv, Ukraine’s patron saint of defiance and vengeance, remains a figure of fascination and reverence. Her story, a blend of determination and retribution, continues to captivate the imagination, making her an enduring symbol of strength and justice.


In the annals of history, the story of St Olga of Kyiv stands as a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Her legacy, marked by defiance and vengeance, reminds us of the enduring power of individuals who rise above adversity. In both her time and ours, St Olga of Kyiv continues to inspire and captivate, a patron saint for a nation and a symbol of unwavering strength.