Posted by: Fr Chris | July 18, 2012

“I Killed Her Because She Was a Nun” July 18, 1944




 File: Mats'kiv Tarsykiya.jpg

Blessed (Sister) Tarsykiya Mats’kiv SSMI, 1919-1944, shown at her embroidery

(Adapted from website: )


Olga Mats’kiv was born March 23, 1919 in Zhydachiv district, Lviv region, in south-eastern Poland. Olga’s parents were middle class, pious, religious and practicing Christians of the Greek Catholic faith. Father Roman Mats’kiv, worked on the railroad, , and when the depot was moved to Rava Ruska, he moved there with the whole family.  Mother, Mary Matsko, and Father Roman carefully nurtured their children, teaching them by example conscientious performance of duty, hard work, prayer and love for God. Olga’s mother was very kind, gentle, sweet and gave these qualities to her daughter. Olga, from early childhood she showed love for God and of the surroundings. Elementary school girl graduated. She studied hard. She joined the “StateIndustrialSchool for Women” in Lviv, and graduated 17 June 1937, as a specialty teacher of sewing . Olga grew in love of God and praye every day. She was pious, loved to pray, often went to church to worship. In her was formed her vocation and so grew an uncontrollable desire to devote herself entirely to God. But her mother did not want to accept it, and did not want to hear about the monastery, she put various obstacles in her way, and they did not even let her daughter to church!


But, after finishing school in 1937, Olga first time came to the house of the novitiate (of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate) in Krystynopil to look at life in a monastery, but by then she did not have enough courage to overcome the prohibitions of her mother. But God’s voice in her heart did not give her peace. With God’s help, she overcame these difficulties and May 3, 1938 entered the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.


From the first days of stay in the monastery Olga made a sweet and good impression on all. After the candidates  were received on November 4, 1938, she was vested in monastic robes, removing the name Tarsykiya (the female version of Tarcisius, the young saint of the Eucharist who was martyred in ancient Rome – Fr Zugger).  Her first vows as Sister Tarsykiya were made on November 5, 1940. After taking vows, she was responsible for the work in the monastery, and also worked as business school teacher of seamstress in the novitiate.The sisters, who lived with her, testified great love Tarsykiya gave to God and neighbor. With a deep union with God, Sr. Tarsykiya was marked by great human and spiritual virtues, which testified about the authenticity of the life of consecrated persons fully dedicated the Lord. She was quiet, calm, cheerful, polite, loved to indulge others, had the gift of patience and love of neighbor.  All of the work assigned to her was executed with great care and responsibility. She had a good will of living with humility and joy to carry the spiritual and physical suffering.


Frequently she asked Jesus, to give these sacrifices of love, patience and prayer for sinners. This exemplary life was an example and encouragement for others to follow in the loyalty and devotion to the Lord. Novitiate and the first years after pronouncing the vows were marked by many dangers due to the war. Sister Tarsykiya was aware of what is happening in the world. She knew that the Bolsheviks persecuted the Church (from the first occupation 1939-41-Fr Zugger): that they dispersed monasteries and arrested priests, monks, nuns, transporting them to Siberia. But these circumstances did not shake her, however, and she led life with her Lord. Sisters mutually encouraged themselves to be faithful to God and the Catholic Church, regardless of the circumstances in which they will be, and the trials that await them. In this intention they prayed a lot.


Even before the Bolsheviks returned (in 1944) Sister Tarsykiya sister went to her spiritual father, Fr. Vladimir Kovalyk OSBM, and made a vow to offer her life for the conversion of Russia, as well as the safety of the Catholic Church. In the afternoon of  July 17, 1944, the Bolshevik army began its attack on Krystynopil. The sisters were forced to hide in cellars for the houses, which had been prepared in advance. All night until the morning of July 18 the battle continued: fighting, bombing, shooting and burning fires. Sister Tarsykiya always sat and prayed the rosary. All felt incredible fear, but also unbearable headaches (from the bombardments). Already in the morning Russian troops were near the sisters. Every day Father Joseph Zahviyskyy OSBM, who was chaplain to the novitiate house came to celebrate the Holy Liturgy. On this morning the Sisters were expecting Father, but he did not come. Sister Tarsykiya was also waiting for a priest because she had a great desire to participate in the Liturgy. A little later the doorbell rang out the call, so Sister Tarsykiya, thinking that Father came, with joy ran to open the gate. Soon they heard a shot in the village. Tarsykiya fell to the ground. Neighbors brought the dead body of the Sister to the cellar, they still tried to save her young life, but in vain. As for the killer of Tarsykiya, he made it out of hatred for the Catholic Church and faith. His words: “I killed her – because she nun …” – best explain the actions of the offender. Sister Tarsykiya Mats’kiv was ready to die for the Catholic faith and the Church as witnessed by her heroic death, and it fell on the Bolshevik soldier to accomplish this out of his hate.


  1. Dear Fr. Christopher,

    Thank you for posting the history of Sr. Tarsykiya. We do have a booklet on her which I can send to you, but it seems you do have a lot of information about her already.
    Sr. Kathleen Hutsko, SSMI

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