Mother Alexandra


Princess Ileana, the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1909.
In 1931, Ileana was married to Archduke Anton Hapsburg of Austria. She gave birth to 6 children over the course of 10 years living in Austria. During World War II, their castle in Austria was first used as housing for German troops; later she turned it into a Red Cross Hospital. In 1944, she returned to Romania, to Bran Castle, which she inherited from her mother. She established a new hospital (The Hospital of the Queen's Heart) across from the castle in memory of her mother to serve soldiers, villagers, and anyone in need of medical attention.

In 1961, with the blessing of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, she began testing her calling to the monastic life and entered the Monastery of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God in Bussy, France. She remained in this monastery for 6 years, visiting the United States each summer to maintain her permanent residency status. While here she would teach at the Romanian Vatra about Orthodoxy and monasticism, and it was becoming clear to her that America needed an English speaking monastery for women.

In 1964, the property here in Ellwood City, PA, was purchased, and in 1967, after Sister Ileana was tonsured into the monastic life as Mother Alexandra, she returned to Ellwood City to remain and establish the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration. She lived to see Communism fall in Romania in 1989, and was able to make a return visit to her homeland in 1990. Mother Alexandra reposed in the Lord on January 21, 1991 and is buried in the monastery cemetery.