Biography of Nora Rubashova (Sister Catherine of Siena, OP)

Born into a merchant family in Moscow in 1909. Lived in Moscow, enrolled in the historical-philology department at Moscow State University but was unable to complete her degree on account of her arrest. In April 1926 – became a Catholic and later became a nun, taking the name Sr. Catherine of Siena. She was the spiritual daughter of Fr. Sergey Soloviev and attended the secret Masses he celebrated in parishioners’ apartments. February 15, 1931 – arrested in a case against Russian Catholics (Soloviev and others). In the indictment the investigator noted in particular that she was a “Tertian [Third Order religious], a fanatic, an active member of a community closely linked with [Bishop] Neveu and [Fr.] Soloviev, and was engaged in counter-revolutionary agitation.” August 18, 1931 - sentenced under Articles 58-6, 58-10 and 58-11 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to five years in corrective labor camps [Special Board, OGPU Collegium]. Sent to the Mariinsk section of Siblag; released in 1936 from Siblag and exiled to Michurinsk; worked in a botanical garden. Summer of 1936 – after her release she went to Maloyaroslavets where she joined the Dominican Sisters of the Abrikosova community. During the war she and the sisters found themselves under the German occupation. In May 1944 she went to Novo-Shulba outside Semipalatinsk (Kazakhstan) to help Sr. Stefania Gorodets, an older sister in the community who had been exiled there; she worked in a school there. In 1947, she and Sr. Stefania returned to Maloyaroslavets, and in the summer of 1948 they moved to Kaluga. November 30, 1948 – arrested in a case against Russian Catholics; October 29, 1949 – sentenced under Articles 58-1(a), 58-10 and 58-11 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR to fifteen years in corrective labor camps [Special Board, USSR Ministry of State Security]. Sent to Vorkutlag (Abez village); in 1954 – transferred to Karlag; released in 1956. Returned to Moscow and went to work at the Historical Library, where she worked until she went on pension; she later sometimes worked there for short periods. She attended St. Louis des Français church. Later parishioners from the old community of Russian Catholics would gather around her and Sr. Stefania. The sisters’ apartment became a place of meetings and the spiritual center of a new community, which soon included young people, university students. Fr. Evgeny Geinrikhs and Fr. Georgy Friedman, who came to Moscow from Leningrad, began to celebrate secret Masses there. May 12, 1987 – at age 78, and only four years before the fall of the Communist regime – she died and was buried in Khovanskoye Cemetery. We present excerpts from Sr. Catherine’s statements at her interrogation in 1931: “I believe it unnecessary to name my acquaintances and I refuse to do so. I believe it necessary to declare my inimical attitude toward Soviet power. I believe that Communism is incompatible with Christianity. There is a fight between them, and in this fight I am wholly on the side of Christianity against Communism. Soviet power’s fight with religion and with “religious narcotics,” as the Communists call it, likewise cause me to have an inimical attitude toward Soviet power.” Sources: Osipova (1996), p. 195; Osipova (1999), p. 337; Soloviev et al.; Ott et al.; Sokolovskyi, p. 174
Variant Names:
Rubashova, Nora; Sister Catherine of Siena, OP; Rubashova, Nora Nikolaevna (Ekaterina)
Moscow (Russia); Mariinsk (Kemerovskai︠a︡ oblastʹ, Russia); Michurinsk (Tambovskai︠a︡ oblastʹ, Russia); Maloi︠a︡roslavet︠s︡ (Russia); Semeĭ (Kazakhstan); Maloi︠a︡roslavet︠s︡ (Russia); Kaluga (Kaluzhskai︠a︡ oblastʹ, Russia); Komi (Russia); Qaraghandy (Kazakhstan); Moscow (Russia)
female; clergy and religious; survived