Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

November 3, 2009

Woman Warrior of the Month: Anna Abrikosova

This month, I'd like to introduce Anna Abrikosova - a Russian Eastern rite Catholic saint who died in the Gulag in 1935. She converted to Catholicism in 1908, at Saint Magdalene’s Church in Paris (A connection to our patroness!!) Her husband converted a year later in Rome.

She was born in 1882 into an aristocratic family in Russia, and after their conversion, they began to spread their faith throughout the intelligentsia in Russia. During their honeymoon, she and her husband, Vladimir experienced a great vision that catalyzed their conversion:
Looking at the people walking about, they suddenly saw walking skeletons with torn clothes instead of real persons. They started thinking of their spiritual life, neglected up to that moment, and they became fervent Catholics.
In 1913, Anna entered the Third Order Dominicans and started an apostolate to help young women who were ostracized from their families for embracing the Catholic faith (which, as you may know, is not very popular among the Russians -- who proudly adhere to their Orthodox faith). She and her husband both entered religious life in 1917 when Anna -- now known as 'Mother Yekaterina' (Russian for Catherine after St. Catherine of Sienna) -- began a Dominican community in Moscow.

In 1922, her husband, who had been ordained a priest, was sentenced to death by shooting by the Russian Communist police. One year later, she too was arrested:
On 11 November 1923 Anna Abrikosova, the sisters and some of the parishioners were arrested. The tribunal sentenced Mother Yekaterina and the oldest sister 10 years in jail, three of the other sisters to from 5 to 8 years in a labour camp, and the others to 3 years’ exile in Siberia. Their time in jail and the camps is an example of pure love and sacrifice for outcasts, petty criminals and syphilitics. In August 1932 Anna Abrikosova was transferred to the hospital of Butyrka prison and underwent an operation for cancer; after the operation she was confined to Kostroma.

One year later, Mother Yekaterina was arrested again and accused of leading a counterrevolutionary terrorist organization plotting to assassinate Stalin.

She was condemned to 8 years in jail but her condition deteriorated and on 23 July 1936 she died of cancer in the hospital prison, aged 54.
She is known to have said before she died: “Christ desires now in Russia the individual sacrifice of those who…go as lambs to the slaughter….Obedience until our death upon the cross, together with humility — these are the two virtues I preach to the sisters.”

Her death and her witness to the world in a time of darkness is similar to the death and witness of my namesake, Edith Stein. Both of them women of God's fortitude and blazing examples of women warriors!

See article here for more information.

1 comment:

Margaret Perry said...

amazing, Edith. Also, she is gorgeous.

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