Saints Martyrs Rhipsimeand Gaiana of Armenia (4th)
commemorated on September 30
Saint Rhipsime had fled to Armenia, together with her abbess Gaiana and fellow nuns,When the emperor Diocletian (284-305) saw a portrait of St Rhipsime, he fell in love with her and wanted to marry her. She refused, saying that she was a bride of Christ. Fearing that the emperor’s agents would seize Rhipsime, the abbess and the nuns fled to Armenia. Diocletian sent word to King Tiridates of Armenia, asking him to capture Rhipsime and send her to him, or to marry her himself.
The servants of the emperor found the fugitives and they urged Rhipsime to submit to the will of the emperor. The saint declared that she and the other nuns were betrothed to the Heavenly Bridegroom, and could marry no earthly suitor. Then a Voice was heard from the heavens: “Be brave and fear not, for I am with you.” The messengers withdrew in fear. 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.
Inspired by Rhipsime’s example to endure torments for Christ, the abbess St Gaiana and two other nuns endured similar tortures, after which they were beheaded. The other nuns were run through with swords and their bodies thrown to be devoured by wild beasts.
Only St. Nina Equal to the Apostles, Enlightener of Georgia,was miraculously saved. Led by an unseen hand, she took refuge among some wild rose bushes which had not yet come into flower. Shaken by fear at the sight of her friends’ fate, the Saint lifted up her hands to heaven in prayer for them and saw a radiant angel girded with a shining stole. With sweet-smelling incense in his hands and accompanied by a multitude of heavenly host, he came down from the celestial heights, and as if to meet him, the souls of the holy martyrs ascended from the earth, joined the throng of heavenly host, and together with them, rose into Heaven.
On seeing this, St. Nina exclaimed, “O Lord, Lord! Why do You leave me alone among these vipers and serpents?”
In answer to this the angel said: “Do not grieve, but wait a little, for you also will be received into the Kingdom of the Lord of glory. This will occur when the prickly, wild rose which now surrounds you is covered with fragrant blossoms like a rose which has been planted and cultivated in a gardens. But now, rise and go north where a great harvest is ripening, but where there are no harvesters.”
The wrath of God befell emperor Tiridates, and also his associates and soldiers who had participated in the torture of the saints. Beset by demons, they became like wild boars (as once with Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. 4: 30), ranging through the forests, rending their clothes and gnawing at their own bodies.Hieromartyr Gregory the Bishop of Greater Armenia, Equal of the Apostles and Enlightener of Armenia
commemorated on September 30
Troparion — Tone 4
Your holy martyr Rhipsime and Gaiana, O Lord, Through their sufferings have received their incorruptible crowns from you, our God. For having your strength they laid low their adversaries, And shattered the powerless boldness of demons. Through their intercessions, save our souls!