From Siberian Times:
Kate Marsden travelled with the active support of both Queen Victoria of England and the Tsarina of Russia, Maria Fedorovna. Much later, after her return, her odyssey would be marred by sexual innuendo, yet this unfair accusation from her detractors can in no way obscure her achievements.
In an era of extraordinary adventurers, hers was especially noteworthy in this era both because she was a woman travelling alone, and due to the sheer scale of her undertaking, to reach one of the remotest areas of Yakutia in search of an elusive herbal cure for leprosy.
By the time of her trip, she had already made her mark, and won the hearts of Russians, as a battle-hardened nurse caring for the wounded during the war between Russia and Turkey in 1878. There are accounts of her, then aged 19, stalking the battlefield at night, bringing relief to soldiers felled during the day's fighting. It was at this time that she had her first contact with lepers, and it was to their cause that she devoted her life's work.
Russian nurses, inspired by Marsden, staffed the colony when it was opened and consecrated on 5 December 1892, the year after her visit. It was completed six years after she left. Astonishingly, it survived not only the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and the ensuing Civil War, but lasted to the early 1960s, pioneering the extermination of leprosy in Yakutia.
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