St. Rhipsime of Armenia


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Commemorated on September 30

St. Rhipsime fled to Armenia, together with her abbess and fellow nuns, to avoid entering into marriage with 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 urged Rhipsime to submit to his will. 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 saying, “Be brave and fear not, for I am with you.” Emperor Tiridates gave the maiden over to cruelest torments – they plucked out her tongue, cut open her stomach, and blinded and killed her, chopping her body into pieces.

Inspired by Rhipsime’s example to endure torments for Christ, 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 fell on Emperor Tiridates and the soldiers who had participated in the torture of the saints. Beset by demons, they became like wild boars, ranging through the forests, rending their clothes and gnawing at their own bodies.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)