Martyr Gaiana of Armenia

Saint Gaiana was the abbess of a women’s monastery in Asia Minor. 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.

Armed soldiers took Rhipsime away from her place of refuge. When nothing would induce the holy virgin to marry the king, he sent for St Gaiana, hoping she might persuade her. The abbess, however, told her that death would be preferable to life with the king. After many cruel torments, St Rhipsime surrendered her pure soul to God.

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.