Orthodox Saint Matushka Olga

Editor’s note: As the global elites once again utilize March to highlight leftist ideals of powerful and defiant modern women, this series flips the script by featuring Alaskan women who have fully embraced their vocations as daughters, sisters, wives and mothers, while leavening the world with that particular love that is unique to the “genius of women.” Click here to read part two about Alaska’s first female pilot Irene Ryan.

March is celebrated as Women’s History Month around the world, and this year’s theme is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” We’re told by President Biden that during this time, “we celebrate the courageous women who have helped our nation build a fairer, more just society,” and by Time Magazine that actions in honor of Women’s History Month this year “will focus on abortion rights.”

Perhaps I’m a bit myopic, but I imagine that when most people pause to consider the women who’ve made the greatest impact in their lives, they don’t call to mind the rabble-rousing counterparts to the trite notion that “well behaved women rarely make history,” but, rather, they most likely recall the women who’ve affected them personally: the women who’ve loved them. Mothers, wives, grandmothers and sisters likely top the list.

I don’t believe women become “great” because they break glass ceilings by doing things men do, or that they’re restricted from reaching their full potential by their unique ability to nurture new human beings within the womb. I do believe that a woman’s true and lasting mark in this world is made by the development of one of the finest attributes of the feminine: her capacity for love.

Matushka Olga was known as a skilled midwife and gave birth to 13 children herself, only eight of whom survived childhood.

Most women will never make the history books for dutifully tending their hearth fires, raising the next generation of Americans, of pursuing the True, the Good and the Beautiful in all areas of life. But these are the women who fuel the mysterious current that changes the course of the world as they pour out their lives in service to others.

Yup’ik Native Matushka Olga Michael is one Alaskan woman who did make it into our history books precisely because she never missed an opportunity to love. Now counted as the only woman among the 14 North American Orthodox Christian saints, Olga was born in 1916, about 12 miles outside of Bethel, in the village of Kwethluk, and was raised within a family who had converted to Orthodoxy the previous century. She married a local hunter and fisherman who founded the village’s first general store and post office. Olga prayed fervently for her husband’s conversion and, when he became an Orthodox priest later in life, she took on the traditional name for a priest’s wife, “Matushka,” which means “mother.”

Matushka Olga was known as a skilled midwife and gave birth to 13 children herself, only eight of whom survived childhood. She sewed the vestments needed by her husband and was always willing to give to others what little she had, be it food, clothing, or her precious time to listen to their struggles. She was particularly known for her compassion and healing kindness to women who suffered trauma and abuse.

Bolstered by an intense prayer life, it is said that Matushka Olga didn’t talk much, but quietly went about her family life and her village community, identifying others’ needs and doing what she could to provide for them. Word of her holy life and good deeds have spread far beyond the little village of Kwethluk. Matushka Olga is now venerated as a saint whose example inspires others as far away as Maryland, New York, and Belarus.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Authentic Alaskan Women (Part 1): Quiet Yup’ik mother rocks the cradle, inspires the world

Theresa Bird
Theresa Bird is a wife and homeschooling mother of eight. She earned her BA in Philosophy at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH. She lives in Anchorage.


  • Proud Alaskan says:

    You’re so right, let’s cerebrate life not the taking of a life. Here’s the type of woman we need to be looking up to. Tell your young daughters about this story. To set them on a path of Holiness.

  • Jon and Ruth Ewig says:

    This article was so good and did not celebrate abortion, the killing of babies or the mutilation of children. It celebrated true motherhood the way God intended. Bless her for the love she has to give. Continue to pray for an awakening and revival in our land. A return to honoring the value of women and motherhood within the family.

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    I always wonder if Olga would have wanted all of this attention drawn to her considering she felt that she was doing God’s Will and probably felt honored to be able to serve others? From what I have heard, that family lineage has interesting history. It is too bad that there have been so many Church, hospital, and orphanage fires that have destroyed Native Alaskan history and the recent elders have passed on or do not remember the history enough to document it accurately.

  • Dee Cee says:

    Great article, T! Thank you for highlighting the beauty of living in accordance with God’s will—and the feminine genius of wife hood and motherhood! That’s what’s really worth promoting!

  • LJ says:

    This is amazing…..thank you.

  • Bart daniel says:

    When God created woman he was working late on the 6th day.
    An angel came by and asked, “Why spend so much time on her?”
    The Lord answered, “Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?
    She must function in all kinds of situations.
    She must be able to embrace several kids at the same time.
    Have a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart.
    She must do all this with only two hands.
    She cures herself when sick and can work 18 hours a day.”
    The angel was impressed, “Just two hands…impossible!
    And this is the standard model?”
    The angel came closer and touched the woman.
    “But you have made her so soft, Lord.”
    “She is soft”, said the Lord,
    “But I have made her strong. You can’t imagine what she can endure and overcome.”
    “Can she think?” The angel asked.
    The Lord answered, “Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate.”
    The angel touched her cheeks.
    “Lord, it seems this creation is leaking! You have put too many burdens on her.”
    “She is not leaking…it is a tear” the Lord corrected the angel.
    “What’s it for?” Asked the angel.
    The Lord said, “Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering, and her pride.”
    This made a big impression on the angel,
    “Lord, you are a genius. You thought of everything. A woman is indeed marvelous!”
    Lord said, “Indeed she is.
    She has strength that amazes a man.
    She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens.
    She holds happiness, love, and opinions.
    She smiles when she feels like screaming.
    She sings when she feels like crying.
    Cries when happy and laughs when afraid.
    She fights for what she believes in.
    Her love is unconditional.
    Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies but she finds strength to get on with life.”
    The angel asked: “So she is a perfect being?”
    The Lord replied, “No. She has just one drawback…she often forgets what she is worth.”

    ~Donna Ashworth