In the 1st century AD, a group of Georgian noble lords served the Albanian government in the southeastern Transcaucasus. These seventeen holy men, known as Sukia, Andrea, Anastasi, Talale, Teodorite, Ivkirion, Iordane, Kodrate, Lukiane, Momnanos, Nerangios, Polievktos, Iakob, Poka, Domentian, Bictor, and Zosime, arrived in the Armenian capital, Artashat, during the reign of King Artaksar (88–123). They accompanied Princess Sateneki, daughter of the Albanian ruler and wife of the Armenian king.
In Artashat, they encountered the elder Khrisos, who had been ordained by the Apostle Thaddeus, and became his disciples. Khrisos journeyed with the noble lords to Mesopotamia, where he baptized them in the waters of the Euphrates. During the Holy Sacrament, they beheld a divine vision of Christ atop the hill. Captivated by this sacred experience, they erected a cross at the baptismal site, naming it the “Cross of the Annunciation.”
King Artaksar later requested their return to Armenia, but the elder Khrisos allowed the disciples to decide for themselves. Enraged by his audacity, pagan messengers attacked Khrisos and four of his disciples, sparing Sukia due to his relation to Queen Sateneki.
The remaining disciples buried their fallen brothers and became ascetics, led by St. Sukia, who became the abbot of their brotherhood. They resided on Sukaketi Mountain near the village of Bagdevand, embracing a strict ascetic lifestyle, surviving on plants and spring water. Their bodies bore the marks of their dedication, with coarse, thick hair and skin resembling scorched clay, a testament to their commitment to God.
In time, Datianos, a new ruler, learned of their Christian faith and hermit life. He ordered Sukia and the others to return to the palace, threatening rebels with death. However, Sukia courageously resisted, leading to his and his companions’ martyrdom. They chanted psalms as they faced a fiery fate, and their attackers ultimately massacred them.
The godless King Artaksar denied them burial, but miraculously, God preserved their incorrupt relics for 230 years. In the 4th century, faithful Christians discovered the holy relics, moving them to a shrine and carving the names of the saints on the burial rock.
Later, the holy hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Armenia (†335), erected a church and founded a monastery at the burial site, where a healing spring emerged.
Today, we honor the memory of St. Sukia and his sixteen companions, praying for their intercession and God’s mercy upon our souls.