Commemorated on September 30
Saint Ripsimia had fled to
Armenia, together with her hegumeness and fellow sisters, to avoid entering
into marriage with the emperor Diocletian (284-305), who was charmed by her
beauty. Concerning this, Diocletian sent a report to the Armenian emperor
Tiridates suggesting that he either send Ripsimia back, or wed her himself. The
servants of the emperor found the fugitives and they began to urge Ripsimia to
submit to the will of the emperor. The saint answered, that she, just like all
her monastic sisters, was betrothed to the Heavenly Bridegroom and so to enter
into marriage was not possible. Then from the heavens resounded a Voice:
"Be brave and fear not, for I am with thee". The messengers in fear
withdrew. Tiridates gave the maiden over to cruelest torments: they plucked out
her tongue, cut open her stomach, blinded and killed her, chopping her body
into pieces. After this, inspired by Ripsimia to bravely endure torments for
Christ, the hegumeness Saint Gaiania and two other monastic sisters were given
over to similar tortures, after which they were beheaded. The remaining 33
sisters were run through with swords and their bodies thrown for devouring by
wild beasts. The wrath of God befell emperor Tiridates, and likewise those of
his associates and soldiers, who had participated in the tormenting of the
saints. Beset by demons, they became like wild boars (as once with
Nebuchadnessar, Dan. 4: 30), ranging through the forests, rending their clothes
and gnawing at their own bodies. After the passage of a certain while, it was
announced in a dream to Tiridates' sister Kusarodukhta: "If Gregory be not
taken out of the pit, emperor Tiridates will not be healed". Then those
close to the emperor approached the pit and asked: "Gregory, art thou
alive?" Gregory answered: "By the grace of my God I am alive".
Then they brought out the holy martyr – unshaven, darkened and very withered,
but as before steadfast of spirit.
The saint ordered the remains of the martyred virgins to be gathered up, which they venerably buried, and on the place of burial they built a church. At this church Saint Gregory greeted the demon-possessed emperor and commanded him to pray to the holy martyrs. Tiridates was healed, repenting of his offenses against God, and with his whole household he accepted holy Baptism. Following the example of the emperor, all the whole Armenian people was baptised. Through the efforts of Saint Gregory in the year 301 there was erected the Echmiadzin cathedral in honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. In the year 305 Saint Gregory journeyed to Caesarea Cappadocia and there was installed by archbishop Leontios as bishop of Armenia. For his apostolic works he received the title of Enlightener of Armenia. Saint Gregory likewise converted to Christ many people from the surrounding lands of Persia and Assyria. In organising the Armenian Church Saint Gregory summoned to serve as bishop his own son, Arostanes the wilderness-dweller, and he himself retired into the wilderness. Saint Arostanes in the year 325 was a participant in the First OEcumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Arius. Saint Gregory, having retired to the wilderness, died in the year 335. The right hand and part of his holy relics rest now in a reliquary Echmiadzin cathedral church in Armenia. In the tradition of the Armenian Apostolic Church, preserved up to the present, the Supreme Katholikos-Patriarch of all the Armenians blesses with this right hand the holy myrh at the time of the myrh-boiling.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.