Hélène Iswolsky (Елена Александровна Извольская, born in 1896 - died in 1975, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States) was a Russian noblewoman, anti-communist political refugee, writer, translator and journalist. Raised Russian Orthodox, Helene was received into the Russian Catholic Church in France and later took monastic vows. In her life as a nun, Iswolsky took the name Sister Olga.
Hélène Iswolsky was born in 1896 in the family of Alexander Izvolsky, who was a Russian diplomat of the Russian imperial government in different countries of Europe and Japan from 1906 to 1910 at Minister of Foreign Affairs, and from 1910 to 1917 as Ambassador to France. Hélenè was the niece of the Procurator of the Holy Synod, Peter Izvolsky. When the First World War started, Hélenè Izvolskaya was in Berlin. Since the last train, she managed to go to France. She settled in Paris, where, during the war took care of the wounded. In life she earned by working in French journals of spiritual direction, translated from Russian to French and English, and from French to Russian philosophical prose of Nicholas Berdyaev. In 1923 Izvolskaya converted from Orthodoxy to Eastern Rite Catholicism. The rite of joining the Catholic Church was in a Benedictine monastery, where she led Russian brothers Paul and Eustochius Komarov. In 1941 Izvolskaya moved from France to the United States. She stopped in New York City, where the first time received support from the Tolstoy Foundation. Here she met with Irma Manziarli, a man of unusual fate. Irma was born in Saint Petersburg, her parents were German Protestants. She married an Italian and lived in France, then some time in India, in the Himalayas, where she studied Eastern religions.
During meetings at the home of Manziarli had the idea of publishing an ecumenical magazine. Among the founders of the magazine were so different and people like Vasily Janowski, writer and doctor, Arthur Lourie, composer and converted to Catholicism, and Alexander Kazem-Bek, a party leader Young Russians. The journal title - "The Third Hour" - was taken from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2. 4-17). The first issue was published in 1946 in three editions: English, Russian and French. There were published ten rooms, the latter came out in 1976, and after the Izvolskaya's death was dedicated to her. The purpose of the journal was to unite all Christians - Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants. The magazine published the work of authors such as Simone Weil, Edith Stein, Mother Maria Skobtsova, Teilhard de Chardin. It was attended by eminent scholars Berdyaev, Jacques Maritain, Karl Barth and Jean Daniélou. When it became possible, Elena visited Russia. Initially, with Dorothy Day she traveled by train from Moscow to Vladivostok.
Then, in 1961 made the journey by car along the route Leningrad - Novgorod - Moscow - Vladimir - Tula - Eagle -Kharkiv - Poltava - Kiev. In Moscow, she visited the tomb of Vladimir Solovyov, where have some land (in December 1975 in Tivoli, New York, the land has been put in her grave. In the United States Elena joined the social movement Catholic Worker. In her 60's Izvolskaya lived at times in Tivoli that housed the village community movement. Not far from the Tivoli was a small Benedictine monastery, and Elena began to take an active part in the spiritual life of the monastery. In 1972, the monastery was moved to Cold Spring, near Tivoli. Izvolskaya help his brother when moving. In the summer of 1974 she finally moved from New York to Cold Spring, to be closer to the monastery. The brothers helped her carry things, a library, an extensive archive. Elena Izvolskaya died in 1975, on Christmas Eve, in a hospital near Cold Spring. Shortly before her death, she took vows as a monk in the Benedictine monastery of Regina Laudis with the name Olga.
Light before dusk. Russian Catholics in France, 1923-1941
Soul of Russia
Christ in Russia. History, traditions and life of the Russian Church
Our Lady of Guadalupe phenomenon
- The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O'Connor, page 97.