Matushka Olga of Kwethluk
Matushka Olga, a Native Alaskan of Yup’ik origin, was born on February 3, 1916. Her husband, Nikolai Michael, was the village postmaster and manager of the general store, who later was ordained a priest and subsequently was elevated to Archpriest. She served her community not only as a priest’s wife, but also as a midwife. Matushka Olga gave birth to thirteen children herself of which eight survived and were raised by her. Many of the children to whom she gave birth were without the aid of a midwife of her own.
Matushka Olga was known for her empathy and caring for those who had suffered abuse of all kinds, especially sexual abuse. While her family was poor, she gave generously to those who were poorer, often giving away her children’s clothes to the needy. She was also known for her ability to tell when a woman was pregnant, even before the woman herself had missed her period.
When Matushka Olga reposed on November 8, 1979, many people from miles around wanted to come to her funeral, but since it was November, the winter weather made it impossible. But on the day of her funeral a wind from the south brought warm weather, thawing the ice and snow to make the trek to Kwethluk possible. When the mourners exited the church to take her body to the graveyard, a flock of birds followed. Those who dug her grave found that the ground, too, had thawed. The evening after her funeral, the normal harsh winter weather returned.
Blessed Olga is venerated in the area in which she lived her earthly life and beyond, and also receives personal veneration from many Orthodox women touched by her life story. Veneration to Matushka Olga is growing in the US. She has appeared in the dreams of the faithful, sometimes alongside the Mother of God. An Akathist service has been written for her.