The Holy GreatMartyr Ketvana

Commemorated on September 13

      The Holy GreatMartyr Ketvana was descended from the imperial Bagration lineage and was a great-grandchild of the emperor Constantine of Kartalin (1469-1505). Having become the spouse of David, successor to the emperor Alexander II of Khaketin (1577-1605), she herself governed the empire. The deep piety of the empress was manifest in a particular attention to the needs of the Gruzian (Georgian) Church, in the building of churches, shelters and vagrants homes. After the death of her husband Saint Ketvana settled into solitude.
      The brother of her husband, Constantine (called Okayan), accepted Mahometanism and on the instructions of the shah Abbas I sent assassins to his dying father, the emperor Alexander II, and his brother George. Having committed the crime, Constantine gave orders to place the bodies of the murdered on camels and take them to the empress Ketvana. Horrified at the wicked deed, the empress bewailed the innocent sufferers and buried them at the Alaverdsk cathedral. The impious one, however, enroached upon her honourable widowhood and demanded her hand, threatening force in case of refusal.
      The empress Ketvana gathered the people of Kakhetin and marched against Constantine, defeating the impious apostate. He met an inglorious death together with many in the Persian army. Under the wise rule of the empress Ketvana, peace and justice were re-established in Kakhetia. Shah Abbas I returned her son Teimuraz, who although he had lived several years in court in the guise of an hostage, preserved his Orthodox faith in purity. Afterwards the shah Abbas, threatening Gruzia with destruction, coerced the Kakhetin feudal authorities into handing over illustrious hostages. In that number voluntarily was the empress Ketvana. Wanting to avert disaster for the Gruzian nation and Holy Church, she arrived in Ispahan. Shah Abbas urged the nobleborn empress to accept Mahometanism, but he received decisive refusal. Thereupon the empress Ketvana was thrown into prison, where she spent ten years, filled with the sufferings of martyrdom. Neither vileness from Persian courtiers, nor cunning offers by the shah to elevate her to empress of the Persian realm, nor offers to her of great treasure, nor the implorings and entreaties of the courtiers and Persian nobles, nothing was able to budge her, not even to uttering a single blasphemous word against Christ, nothing was able to move the sufferer for Christ. They tortured her with red-hot tongs hung cross-wise in wood. On the head of the holy martyress they touched a red-hot iron kettle. The dense smoke from her burning hair and head rose upwards, and the blessed martyress gave up her soul to God on 13 September 1624.
      Three bright pillars, having come down upon the body of Saint Ketvana, signified her spiritual victory. The relics of the holy empress were taken to Rome, to the cathedral of the holy Apostle Peter, by monks of the Augustinian order who had been witnesses to her deed of confessor. Part of the relics (the venerable head and right hand of the martyress) was given by the Augustinian monks to emperor Teimuraz I and placed beneathe the altar-table (prestol') of the Alaverdi cathedral of the holy GreatMartyr George in Kakhetia. The Catholikos-Patriarch Zakharia (1613-1630) enumerated the great-martyress to the rank of the saints and established her memory on 13 September.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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The Holy GreatMartyr Ketvana

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