Memory 28 August (10 September)
Saint Shushanik, a devout woman, was wed to the Georgian prince Varsken, ruler of Hereti. Her upbringing in a God-fearing Christian family deeply instilled in her a profound love and reverence for the Almighty.
In those days, political pressure from Persia weighed heavily upon Kartli, and Prince Varsken, in his desire to foster amicable relations with Persia, chose to forsake his true Faith. He embraced the worship of fire and pledged to convert his wife and children upon his return to Hereti.
Upon nearing the border of Hereti, Varsken dispatched messengers to Tsurtavi, the city under his rule, to ensure a grand welcome from his subjects. However, when the blessed Shushanik learned of her husband’s betrayal, her heart was heavy with sorrow. She fell to the ground, shedding bitter tears. She then gathered her four children, abandoned the palace, and sought refuge in a nearby church.
On that fateful evening, Shushanik was visited by her spiritual father, the elder Iakob, who foretold, “Varsken’s cruelty and ruthlessness are evident. Be prepared for severe trials. Will you remain steadfast and unwavering in your faith?”
Her resolute reply was, “I would willingly lay down my life rather than unite with him and jeopardize my soul!”
Three days later, the prince arrived in Tsurtavi and, as promised, attempted to persuade his wife to renounce her faith. Yet, St. Shushanik stood firm, declaring, “Just as you have renounced your Creator, so I renounce you. I shall no longer partake in your affairs, regardless of the suffering I must endure.”
Subsequently, Varsken sent his younger brother Jojik and Bishop Apots to convince Shushanik to return to the palace. She resisted for a time but eventually yielded to their entreaties. Carrying the Holy Gospel and the Lives of the holy martyrs, she journeyed back to the palace, where she secluded herself in a dismal cell.
Two days later, Varsken invited Shushanik, his brother Jojik, and Jojik’s wife to dine together. However, Shushanik, unable to share a meal with one who had forsaken Christ, pushed away the cup offered by Jojik’s wife, further infuriating her husband.
In his rage, Varsken brutally beat his wife, bound her in chains, imprisoned her, and ordered the guards to deny her visitors.
Saint Shushanik endured six years of captivity, during which she selflessly aided the poor who sought her. Through her fervent prayers, the sick were healed, and childless couples were blessed with offspring.
Before her passing, Holy Martyr Shushanik imparted her blessings to those around her and expressed her wish to be laid to rest at the place from which her unbelieving husband had forcibly removed her from the palace. This poignant event transpired in the year 475, drawing tears from both clergy and laity alike. In accordance with her wishes, her holy relics were interred.
In the year 578, with the blessing of Catholicos Kirion I, the holy relics of St. Shushanik were relocated to Tbilisi, where they remain to this day, within the hallowed confines of the Metekhi Church of the Most Holy Theotokos.
O Holy Shushanik, due to your husband’s transgressions, you were adorned with a martyr’s crown. You relinquished your earthly queenly status in favor of the Heavenly Kingdom. Now, you stand boldly before the Eternal Bridegroom, Christ. Watch over us who offer praise in your name!