Blessed Martyr Tarsykia Matskiv
Olha Matskiv was born on March 23, 1919 in Chodoriv, Ukraine. She was the first of four children born into a pious working-class family. From early childhood, Olha showed signs of virtue and a life of intense piety. She loved prayer, and often went to church. The seed of a religious vocation was developing early in her life.
Despite the opposition of her mother, Olha entered the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate on May 3, 1938. Olha soon made a favourable impression on all the Sisters. She possessed a fine and gracious character. On November 4, 1938, she received the habit and took a religious name, Tarsykia. She pronounced her first vows on November 5, 1940.
These were the years of the Second World War, a time of hardship and danger. On July 17, 1944, the Soviets started to attack Krystynopil, the city where Sister Tarsykia was missioned. Heavy bombardment continued all day and night. The Sisters took shelter in the basement of their novitiate.
The morning of July 18, the Sisters were expecting a priest to come and celebrate the Divine Liturgy. When the gate bell rang, Sister Tarsykia, thinking that it was the priest, ran out to open the gate. When she was half-way to the gate, the Sisters heard a shot and Sister Tarsykia fell dead. The next day the Soviets came to kill all the Sisters, but Father Volodymyr Kowalyk, OSBM Superior, interceded, so the Soviets relented. Tarsykia’s killer, a Soviet soldier, looking at the dead body of Sister Tarsykia, admitted, when asked: “I killed her because she was a nun.”
Before the Soviet attack, Sister Tarsykia made a private vow before her confessor, Father Volodymyr Kovalyk, OSBM, to sacrifice her life for the conversion of Russia and for the Catholic faith.
She was buried in the garden of the convent at the foot of the statue of the Blessed Mother; it was too dangerous to go to the cemetery. In 1956 her mortal remains were transferred to the Lychakivsky cemetery in Lviv.
On September 2, 2007, Blessed Tarsykia’s mortal remains were exhumed, and ceremonially transferred to her home town of Chodoriv, via the Cathedral of Stryj Eparchy, to which Chodoriv belongs. In silent procession, throngs of people escorted her relics, borne on the shoulders of priests, as pall bearers, to an outdoor Divine Liturgy, to accommodate these crowds, before being encrypted in the church itself. This was the funeral Blessed Tarsykia never had.
Martyrdom, the witnessing to one’s faith through death, is a unique class within the processes of proclaiming holiness. Through martyrdom, one is ipso facto proclaimed Blessed. Blessed Tarsykia, along with 26 other martyrs and SSMI Co-foundress, Blessed Josaphata, was solemnly beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 27, 2001, on his pastoral visit to Ukraine.
Blessed Tarsykia Feast Day
After having been included in a collective Feast Day, June 27, the day of her beatification, given to all 27 martyrs proclaimed on that date in 2001 by Saint Pope John Paul II, Blessed Martyr Tarsykia’s Feast Day was later officially changed to July 18, the day of her passing.
PRAYER through the intercession of Blessed Martyr Tarsykia
We thank you for creating in our Church
the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.
You have enriched it
with the virtues and sanctity
of Blessed Martyr Tarsykia,
who, with a prayer on her lips
and courage in her heart
accepted death for the Catholic faith.
Trusting in your intercession,
we ask you to hear our prayer and intercede with the Most Holy Trinity
for the grace for which we so ardently plead,
for the greater glory of God.
Blessed Tarsykia, pray for us!
(with ecclesiastic approval)
Acknowledgment of prayers answered through the intercession of Blessed Tarsykia are to be sent to:
Pasichna Street, 8