The Holy Martyr Nobleborn Emperor of Gruzia Luarsab II

Commemorated on June 21

      The Holy Martyr Nobleborn Emperor of Gruzia Luarsab II was born in 1587. He was the son of George X (1600-1603), poisoned by the Persian emperor shah Abbas I (1584-1628). After the death of his father Luarsab remained with his two sisters, Choreshan and Helen. He was still a lad, but distinguished himself by his intellect and piety, and despite his youthful age, he was crowned to the Kartalin kingdom with the name Luarsab II. In 1609 Gruzia suffered invasion by a Turkish army under the leadership of Deli-Mamad-khan. The young emperor gave decisive battle to the Turks near the village of Kvenadkotsi (between Gori and Surami). On the eve of battle the 14 thousand Gruzian host spent all night at incessant prayer, and in the morning after Divine liturgy and the receiving by all of the Holy Mysteries, the Gruzian forces in an heroic battle turned to flight the 60 thousand strong forces of the enemy.
      The Persian shah Abbas I, alarmed over this victory by the Georgians, and bearing enmity towards Luarsab II, sought for an opportunity to destroy him. Saint Luarsab was forced, for the saving of Kartli (Central Gruzia) from destruction, to give in marriage to the mahometan shah Abbas his sister Helen, at his demand. But this also did not stop the shah. Several times he entered Gruzia with a large army. Because of the treachery of several feudal lords, the noble emperor Luarsab and the Kakhetian emperor Teimuraz I were compelled at the end of 1615 to withdraw to Imeretia (Western Gruzia) to the Imeretian emperor George III (1605-1639).
      Shah Abbas I laid waste to Kakhetia and, threatening Kartli with ruin, he demanded that he should have Luarsab II, promising in the event of his coming, to conclude a peace. The noble emperor Luarsab II, trying to preserve the churches of Kartli from devastation, set out to shah Abbas with the words: "I entrust all my hope upon Christ, and whatever might be the fate that awaiteth me, life or death, blest be the Lord God!"
      Shah Abbas I received Saint Luarsab II amicably and, it would seem, was prepared to fulfill his promise. After an hunt together shah Abbas invited him to Mazandaran, but for supper Luarsab II refused to eat fish (since it was Great Lent), despite the threats and demands of the shah. The enraged shah began to insist that the Gruzian emperor accept Mahometanism, for which he promised to let him go with great treasures to Kartli, threatening otherwise death by torture. The noble emperor Luarsab II, having from his youthful years kept strict fast and constantly at prayer, without hesitation refused the demands of the shah. They thereupon seized him and imprisoned him in the impenetrable fortress of Gulab-Kala, near Shiraz. The Mrovel bishop Nicholas relates, that the noble emperor Luarsab spent seven years imprisoned in chains, undergoing cruel torments and frequent beatings to force him into an acceptance of Mahometanism. But the holy confessor remained faithful to the Holy Church of Christ and accepted a martyr's death in the year 1622 at 35 years of age. Together with him were martyred two of his faithful retainers.
      In the prison they cast out by night the bodies of the holy martyrs without burial, but on the next day Christians committed them to earth in a common grave.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.