Ingegerd Olofsdotter

The Grand Princess of Kiev who became a saint

Ingegerd Olofsdotter was also later known as Irene and St Anna. She was born a princess – the daughter of the Christian Swedish king, Olof Skötkonung – in 1001, in Sigtuna. In 1019 she was married to the Russian king, Jaroslav I the Wise of Novgorod, and thus became Grand Princess of Kiev.

Once in Kiev she changed her name to the Greek, Irene. She had ten children, three of whom became queens of France, Hungary and Norway. The whole family is depicted in one of the frescoes of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.

Irene and Jaroslav initiated the building of the cathedrals of Saint Sophia in Kiev, and in Novgorod. Because of this and other good deeds, she was declared a saint, Anna, after her death in 1050.

She is still worshipped as St Anna in Russia. Her hymn starts with the words: ”O joy of the Swedish people, thou didst gladden the Russian realm, filling it with grace and purity, adorning its throne with majesty, lustrous in piety like a priceless gem set in a splendid royal crown.”