Posted on: November 22, 2013

Recently I was browsing through a book which listed history’s most evil people, and found Saint Olga amongst the ranks. A saint? One of the most evil people in history? Surely not. It turns out that she was indeed a nasty piece of work. Even the Catholic Online website describes her as “a cruel and barborous woman”.

Olga was born around 890 in Pskov (although there is some dispute about this), and was descended from Viking blood. She was married off to Prince Igor of Kiev. When he was killed by the Drevlians, a tribe of Eastern Slavs occupying Polesia, Olga was left to act as regent for her 3-year-old son, Slvyatoslav. Being now a powerful woman, Olga was in some demand in the marriage market. The Drevlians sent a posse of men to persuade her to marry their own Prince Mal, and unite the two warrring factions. Olga must have thought this was a bit of a cheek on their part, and had them all buried alive for their pains.

Then the wily bird sent a message to the Drevlians that she would marry their prince, but they must send a troupe of their very finest men to escort her to him. When the men arrived Olga, ever the thoughtful host, suggested they may like to freshen up after their journey and pointed them in the direction of the bath-house. Once they were inside she had the building sealed and set on fire.

Olga’s lust for revenge didn’t even stop there. She invited 5000 Drevlians to a funeral feast held in honour of her departed husband, and had every single one of them attending it slain.

So how did this dreadful woman manage to become a saint? Well she converted to Christianity around 945, and changed her name to Yelena. She was proclaimed a saint in 1547 for spreading the word of Christianity in Russia, and was one of the few women to be made Equal To The Apostles. Which is pretty breathtaking really.

Pictures of Olga show a rather frightening-looking woman with a fierce heavy-browed expression, although a picture on the Catholic Online website has her looking rather simpering, like an actress from the Silent Screen era, caressingly holding a large crucifix … as if speculating what she’d like to do with it no doubt.



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