Anna Abrikosova

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Anna Ivanovna Abrikosova

Anna Ivanovna Abrikosova (Russian: Анна Ивановна Абрикосова) (later known as Mother Catherine of Siena, O.P.) (Russian: Екатери́на Сие́нская or Ekaterina Sienskaya), (23 January 1882, Kitaigorod, Moscow, Russian Empire – 23 July 1936, Butyrka Prison, Moscow, Soviet Union) was a prominent figure in the Russian Catholic Church, and the foundress of a community of Religious Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic in that Church.

Since 2002, her life has been under scrutiny for possible beatification by the Holy See. Her current title is Servant of God.


Anna Ivanovna Abrikosova was born into a merchant family, the official suppliers of chocolate confections to the Russian Imperial Court. Although the younger members of the family rarely attended Divine Liturgy, the Abrikosovs regarded themselves as pillars of the Russian Orthodox Church.[1] Anna's parents died early: her mother while giving birth to her, and her father ten days later, of tuberculosis. Anna and her four brothers were raised in the house of her uncle, Nikolai Alekseevich Abrikosov.[2] She graduated from gymnasium in Moscow and Girton College, Cambridge. In 1903, she returned to Russia and married her first cousin, Vladimir Abrikosov. Most of the next ten years, they spent traveling in the Kingdom of Italy, Switzerland and France.

According to Father Cyril Korolevsky:

While traveling, she studied a great deal. She... read a number of Catholic books. She particularly liked the Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena and began to doubt official Orthodoxy more and more. Finally, she approached the parish priest of the large, aristocratic Church of the Madeleine in Paris, Abbé Maurice Rivière, who later became Bishop of Périgueux. He instructed and received her into the Catholic Church on 20 December 1908. Amazingly, especially at that time, he informed her that even though she had been received with the Latin Ritual, she would always canonically belong to the Greek-Catholic Church. She went on reading and came to prefer the Dominican spirituality and to enjoy Lacordaire's biography of Saint Dominic... She never stopped thinking of Russia, but like many other people, she thought that only the Roman Catholic priests were able to work with Russian souls. Little by little, she won her husband over to her religious convictions. On 21 December 1909, Vladimir was also received into the Catholic Church. They both thought they would stay abroad, where they had full freedom of religion and... a vague plan to join some monastery or semi-monastic community. Since they knew that according to the canons they were Greek-Catholics, they petitioned Pius X through a Roman prelate for permission to become Roman Catholics -- they considered this a mere formality. To their great surprise the Pope refused outright... and reminded them of the provisions of Orientalium Dignitas. They had just received this answer when a telegram summoned them to Moscow for family reasons.[3]

The couple returned to Russia in 1913. Upon their return, the Abrikosovs found a group of Dominican tertiaries which had been established earlier by one Natalia Rozanova. They were received into the Third Order of St. Dominic by Friar Albert Libercier, O.P., of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Louis in Moscow. On 19 May 1917, Vladimir was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.[4] With her husband now a priest, according to Roman custom Anna was free to take monastic vows. She took vows as a Dominican Sister, assuming her religious name at that time, and founded a Greek-Catholic religious congregation of the Order there in Moscow. Several of the women among the secular tertiaries joined her in this commitment. Thus was a community of the Dominican Third Order Regular established in Soviet Russia.

Due to her work with the Papal Aid Mission to Russia, Mother Catherine was arrested by the OGPU. Shortly before the Supreme Collegium of the OGPU handed down sentences, Mother Catherine told the sisters of her community, "Which of you, in a moment of fervour, has not asked Christ for the grace of participating in his sufferings?"[5]

Mother Catherine was sentenced to ten years of solitary confinement and imprisoned at Yaroslavl from 1924 to 1932. As she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Ekaterina Peshkova, the wife of author Maxim Gorky, interceded with Stalin to secure her release.


After immediately entering communication with the surviving Sisters of the congregation, Mother Catherine was re-arrested in 1933. The NKVD accused her of plotting to assassinate Joseph Stalin, overthrow the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and restore the House of Romanov. She died of breast cancer in the Butyrka Prison infirmary in 1936, aged 54. Her body was cremated and the ashes were buried in a mass grave in the Donskoy Monastery.


  • "I wish to lead a uniquely supernatural life and to accomplish to the end my vow of immolation for the priests and for Russia."[6]


  1. ^ Revelations of a Russian Diplomat: The Memoirs of Dmitrii I. Abrikossow, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1964, p. 132.
  2. ^ Abrikossow (1964), pp. 5–10.
  3. ^ Father Cyril Korolevsky, Metropolitan Andrew (1865-1944), translated and revised by Father Sergei Keleher, EC Publications, 1993. pp. 308-309.
  4. ^ Korolevsky (1993), p. 311.
  5. ^ Korolevsky (1993), p. 316.
  6. ^ Korolevsky (1993), p. 314.

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