Olga, St., a noted saint of the Russian Church, was by birth of very humble descent, but became grand princess of Russia as the wife of the duke Igor of Kiev. This prince, having undertaken an expedition against Constantinople, which proved unsuccessful, was slain on his return to his own dominions, and his widow Olga thereupon assumed the government in his stead, and for many years governed with much prudence and success. Having resigned the government to her son, Vratislav, about the year 952, she repaired to Constantinople, where she was baptized by the patriarch Theophilaktes, and received into the Church, assuming at baptism the name of Helena, in honor of St. Helena, mother of Constantine. She returned to Russia, and labored with much zeal for the propagation of her new creed; but she failed in her attempt to induce her son, Swiintoslav, to embrace Christianity. Her grandson, Vladimir, having married Chrysoberga, the sister of the emperors of Constantinople, Basil and Constantine, was baptized in the year 988; but Olga did not live to enjoy this gratification, having died in 978, or, according to other authorities, as early as 970. As the first Christian grand princess, she was canonized after her death, and she has come to be held in high veneration in the Russian Church. Her festival falls on July 21. The practice of venerating her appears to date from the early period of the Russian Church, before the schism between the Eastern and Western churches. In the Latin Church her name is not to be found in the catalogue of the saints. How important is her relation to Russian Church history Gibbon (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,. v. 435 sq.) has well pointed out. A female, perhaps of the basest origin, who could revenge the death and assume the scepter of her husband Igor, must have been endowed with those active virtues which command the fear and obedience of barbarism. In a moment of foreign and domestic peace she sailed from Kiev for Constantinople, where in the sacrament of baptism she received the venerable name of the empress Helena. After her return to Kiev and Novgorod, she firmly persisted in her new religion; but her labors in the propagation of the Gospel were not attended with success, and both her family and nation adhered with obstinacy or indifference to the religion of their fathers. Yet the lessons and:examples of the pious Olga had made a deep though secret impression on the minds of her son and people. See Neander, Church History, 3:328; Gieseler, Church History, 2:231; Kurtz, Lehbuch der Kirchengeschichte, 1:211; Strahl, Gesch. d. Russ. Kirche, p.
51 sq.; Nestor, Annals.(in Schlozer's transL), v. 58 sq.; Karamsin, Gesch. d. Russ. Reichs, in 136 sq.; Duncan, Hist. of Russia, p. 46, 47.