Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Elizabeth Galitzin

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 6
Elizabeth Galitzin

by Janet Erskine Stuart


Princess, religious of the Sacred Heart; born at St. Petersburg, 22 February, 1797; died in Louisiana, 8 December, 1843. Her father was Prince Alexis Andrevitch, her mother Countess Protasof, the friend and "second conscience" of Madame Swetchine. When her mother abandoned the creed of the Russian Orthodox Church and embraced the Catholic Faith (a step to which the penalty of exile or death was still attached by Russian law), Princess Elizabeth was roused to bitter hatred of the Catholic Church, and bound herself by oath never to change her religion. But after four years, the influence of her mother's consistency of life and the conversion of other members of the family induced her to examine the question, and finally she too made her submission. Her vocation followed soon after her conversion, and she left it to Father Rozaven to find for her an austere order devoted to education". His choice was the Society of the Sacred Heart. Elizabeth Galitzin received the habit at Metz, in 1826, her first vows were taken in Rome at the Trinità dei Monti, 1828, and her profession took place in Paris, 1832. In 1834, she was named secretary general to the foundress, Blessed Madeleine Sophie Barat, and, in 1839, was elected assistant general and named visitor of the convents of the Sacred Heart in the United States.

Mother Galitzin carried out her duties of assistant general and visitor in a characteristic spirit. Though burning with ardour to attain the best in all religious perfection, her strict ideas of government, and the tendency to dissimulation, which autocratic natures sometimes reveal in the pursuit of their ends, prevented her from acquiring fully the spirit of the constitutions of her order. She made grave mistakes, but the Blessed foundress always willing to make allowances for others, excused them and ever recognized that Mother Galitzin's heart was true to the society. Conscious of the harm she had done in pressing the matter of some changes in the constitutions, Mother Galitzin begged to be sent back to the United States, to restore the original organization of the society. In the midst of an outbreak of yellow fever in Louisiana she nursed the sick with heroic devotedness, until she was herself struck down and died.

Janet Stuart.