Saint Gregory Equal of the Apostles and Enlightener of Armenia
Saints Martyrs Rhipsime and Gaiana of Armenia(4th)-the Friends of St.Nina Enlightener of Georgia and thirty-five other nuns
Saint Tiridates III of Armenia the Great (250-330)
Saint Khosrovidukht, sister of Tiridates III of Armenia
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.
In her sleep Khosrovidukht, had a dream where appeared to her a vision from God. She saw in her dream a man in the likeness of light came to her and told her “there is no other cure for these torments that have come upon you, unless you send to the city of Artashat and bring thence the prisoner Gregory. When he comes he will teach you the remedy for your ills.” Khosrovidukht had this vision five times. She came to speak to the people about her vision and the populace heard this and they began to mock her words. They began to say to her: “You too then are mad. Some demon has possessed you. How is it, because it is fifteen years since they threw him into the terribly pit, that you say he is alive? Where would even his bones be? For on the same day when they put him down there, he would have immediately dropped dead at the very sight of the snakes.” Khosrovidukht in character was a modest maiden like a nun.
Tiridates was brought to Gregory, and was miraculously cured of his illness in 301. Persuaded by the power of the cure, the king immediately proclaimed Christianity the official state religion. And so, Armenia became a nominally Christian kingdom and the first state to officially adopt Christianity. Tiridates appointed Gregory as Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The king worked feverishly to spread the faith and died in 330.
Hymns of Praise
Saint Gregory the Enlightener
Gregory was a great light
To his people and his nation.
He spurned glory and riches
For the poverty of Christ the Crucified,
Preferring eternal riches in heaven.
He raised his mind to heaven and thoughts of God,
And endured much physical torture,
As if it all were painless.
He was strong with the power of God’s grace,
And nourished by God’s heavenly food,
And armored against evil by God’s providence.
He was lowered into the pit from his glory,
And from the pit he was elevated to the heights-
The heights of eternal glory.
Gregory, great and holy,
Enlightened Armenia with Jesus.
Even the wild boar, Tiridates,
Was baptized under the Cross and became a lamb.
With great glory, the land of Armenia glorifies
Its miracle-worker, St. Gregory.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Marvelous changes occur daily in the destiny of men-in the present, as in times past. Those humiliated for the sake of God’s righteousness are raised to great heights, and the blasphemers of the Faith are converted to servants of the Faith. King Tiridates threw St. Gregory into a deep pit. The saint spent fourteen years in that pit, forgotten by the entire world, but not by God. Who among men could have thought that the greatest light of the Armenian people was to be found in the darkness of a pit? And who would have ever thought that the powerful and tyrannical King Tiridates would one day save the life of that same Gregory, whom he had condemned to death, and would help him more than the rest of the whole world could help him? After fourteen years, God revealed Gregory as still alive. Gregory then miraculously healed the insane king. King Tiridates, the unrestrained persecutor of Christ, was baptized and became the greatest zealot for the Christian Faith! It could be said that, with God’s help, Gregory and Tiridates were both drawn out of the pit of darkness-Gregory a physical one, and Tiridates a spiritual one. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God in governing the destinies of men! The formerly wild and passionate Tiridates was softened and ennobled so much by repentance and the Christian Faith, that he came to resemble St. Gregory more than his old, unrepentant self.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Troparion Saint Gregory the Illuminator of Armenia — Tone 4
By sharing in the ways of the Apostles, / you became a successor to their throne. / Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, / O inspired one of God; / by teaching the word of truth without error, / you defended the Faith, even to the shedding of your blood. / Hieromartyr Gregory entreat Christ God to save our souls.
Troparion Saints Martyrs Rhipsime and Gaiana of Armenia— 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!