St. Gaiana of Armenia


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Commemorated on September 30

St. Gaiana was the abbess of a women’s monastery in Asia Minor where, a young girl, Rhipsime lived a life of prayer. When Emperor Diocletian (284-305) saw a portrait of 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 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 emperor. After many cruel torments, St. Rhipsime surrendered her pure soul to God.

Inspired by Rhipsime’s example of enduring torments for Christ, St. Gaiana and two other nuns endured similar tortures, after which they were beheaded. They were run through with swords and their bodies thrown to be devoured by wild beasts.

The wrath of God befell 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)