I just found a beautiful and moving account of the life of Matushka Olga of Alaska. I think many women would be helped and comforted by reading her life. I’m posting an excerpt, but I encourage you to go read the whole thing.
While all of the canonized Saints of North America have so far been men, over the past few years an Orthodox woman, native of North America, has slowly become known to more and more people, particularly other Orthodox women.
Matushka Olga Michael, wife of the departed Archpriest Nikolai O. Michael from the village of Kwethluk on the Kuskokwim River in Alaska, as described in Fr. Michael Oleksa’s book, Orthodox Alaska, was neither a “physically impressive or imposing figure.” She raised eight children to maturity, giving birth to several of them without a midwife. While her husband was away taking care of many other parishes, she kept busy raising her family and doing many things for other people. One is reminded of the story of Tabitha in the book of Acts (9:36-ff) when hearing that “[i]n addition to sewing Father Nikolai’s vestments in the early years and crafting beautiful parkas, boots and mittens for her children, she was constantly sewing or knitting socks or fur outerwear for others. Hardly a friend or neighbor was without something Matushka had made for them.
Parishes hundreds of miles away received unsolicited gifts, traditional Eskimo winter boots (‘mukluks’) to sell or raffle for their building fund. All the clergy of the deanery wore gloves or woolen socks …[which she] had made for them” (p. 203). While fulfilling many of the other tasks (like preparing the eucharistic bread) that are often assumed by other priests’ wives, she also knew the hymns of many feast days, including Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Pascha in Yup’ik (her Eskimo language) by heart. After, miraculously surviving an initial bout with cancer when it seemed that nothing could be done, she eventually succumbed to a return of the disease, preparing herself for death which took place on November 8, 1979 with great courage and faith.