St. Olga (Helen or Elena in baptism) was born about a.d. 890 and became a great Russian princess. Before she was baptized, she could be ruthless and vengeful. When her husband, Prince Igor, the son of Rurik (the founder of Russian royalty), was murdered, she took swift revenge upon her enemies. At first crafty and clever, she later became wise and loving for the spiritual benefit of all. A severe person before baptism, she became severe with herself in repentance afterward. She became the Russian regent in a.d. 945 for her son, Svyatoslav, until he attained maturity in a.d. 964.
Going to Constantinople in a.d. 957, before the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII and his court, she accepted Christianity and was baptized by the Patriarch Polyeuctus, but refused the Emperor’s request for marriage, returning to Russia. She was unable to influence her son to be baptized, but her influence later helped her grandson Vladimir to become the “Baptizer of Russia.” After surviving a siege and war of Kiev by the Pechenegs in a.d. 968, St. Olga became ill and weak, and died at the age of 79 in a.d. 969 in Kiev near her son, Svyatoslav and his children.