Martyr Susanna, Queen of Georgia
Saint Shushanik (Susanna) was the wife of the Georgian prince Varsken. Having been raised in a pious Christian family, she was deeply penetrated with love and the fear of God.
When Prince Varsken denied the true Faith and converted to the worship of fire, he promised the Persian king that his wife and children would also convert. Shushanik, having learned of her husband’s betrayal, fell to the ground and wept over him with bitter tears. Then she took her four children, deserted the palace, and sought refuge in a nearby church. That evening she was visited by her spiritual father, the elder Jacob, who predicted, “Varsken’s cruelty and mercilessness are unmistakable. Know that terrible trials await you. Will you be firm and unbending in your position?” “I would rather die than unite with him and destroy my soul!” she answered.
The prince tried to persuade his wife to convert, but Saint Shushanik firmly answered, “As you have renounced your Creator, so I am renouncing you. I will no longer take part in your affairs, no matter what suffering I must endure!” The next time, Varsken sent his younger brother Jojik and Bishop Apots to convince Shushanik to return to the palace. Shushanik refused for some time, but in the end she yielded to their persuasion. She set off for the palace with the Holy Gospel and the Lives of the holy martyrs, and when she arrived she locked herself in a squalid cell. Two days later Varsken returned to the palace and invited Shushanik, his brother Jojik, and his sister-in-law for supper. The queen, however, could not bring herself to share a meal with one who had betrayed Christ: she pushed away the cup that Jojik’s wife had offered her, thus further angering her husband. The furious Varsken beat his wife mercilessly, fettered her in irons, locked her in prison, and forbade the guards to let anyone in to see her.
Saint Shushanik spent six years in captivity. While she was serving her sentence, she helped the poor that came to her. Through her prayers the sick were healed and children were born to the childless. Before her death, Holy Martyr Shushanik blessed those around her and requested that she be buried at the place from which her unbelieving husband had dragged her out of the palace. This happened in the year 475. Her holy relics were buried in accordance with her will. In 578, with the blessing of Catholicos Kirion I, Saint Shushanik’s holy relics were translated to Tbilisi, where they remain today, in the Metekhi Church of the Most Holy Theotokos.