St. Olga was a pagan queen in Kyiv who, after being baptized, changed her ways and lived a life of Christian holiness.
St. Olga ruled Kyivan Rus’ from 945 until 960 and if she had never became a Christian, it is likely she would have been recorded as one of the most ruthless rulers in history.
One of the most horrific acts she performed was the burning down of an entire city in an act of vengeance.
Not only that but, according to Eva March Tappan in her book Russia, Austria-Hungary, the Balkan States, and Turkey, she even lured her enemies to a bath, only to steam them to death.
When they arrived Olga ordered a bath to be prepared for them and she said, “When you have bathed you shall come into my presence.” So the bath was heated and the Drevlianes went in and began to bathe themselves. Then the door was shut and Olga gave orders that the bath should be made very hot and they were all steamed to death.
Baptism of Olga
Everything changed after Olga traveled to Constantinople and experienced Christianity for the first time. Tappan explains how she was baptized and then stayed in Constantinople to be instructed in the faith.
As soon as she had been baptized, Olga’s mind became enlightened and the patriarch instructed her in the faith and gave her his blessing. She knelt with her head bent before him and absorbed his instruction as a sponge absorbs water. They gave her in baptism the name of Helena, after the mother of Constantine the Great.
St. Olga returned to Kyiv, bringing with her priests, deacons and everything necessary for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. She then spent the rest of her life trying to convert her people.
Unfortunately her son would not accept Christianity, but her grandson, Vladimir, did. Vladimir would convert to Christianity and his conversion proved to be a turning point for the region. Ever since, the people of Kyiv took hold of the Christian religion and kept their faith in Christ through much hardship.