Martyr Rhipsime of Armenia

Saint Rhipsime had fled to Armenia, together with her abbess and fellow nuns, to avoid entering into marriage with the emperor Diocletian (284-305), who was charmed by her beauty. Diocletian sent a letter to the Armenian emperor Tiridates asking that he either send Rhipsime back, or wed 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.

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.