Commemorations for Tout 29
On this day, the holy virgins Arbsima (Repsima) and Agatha (Ghana) and their sisters, were martyred during the reign of Emperor Diocletian.
This infidel sought out the most beautiful damsel to marry. He sent artists to every country and ordered them to paint a portrait of the most beautiful damsel that their sights fell on and to give him an accurate description of her. When they arrived nearby Rome, they entered a convent for virgins and found Saint Arbsima and none was like her in beauty. They painted a portrait of her and sent it to the Emperor who rejoiced when he saw it. He sent to the kings and governors to invite them to the wedding celebrations.
When Arbsima and the virgins knew that, they wept, and left the convent fleeing, entreating the Lord Christ to help them and to keep their virginity. They fled to the country of Armenia, and entered the province over which Tridates was king. There they dwelt in a winery in a deserted garden. They had great trouble in getting their food, so one of them made glass, sold it, and with the money they bought their food.
When Diocletian sought for Arbsima, he did not find her. Later on, he heard that she was in the country of Armenia so he sent to Tridates the governor to look for her. When the virgins heard that, they left their shelter and hid themselves in the city. But someone informed about them. Tridates then commanded to bring Arbsima to him and when she refused, they abducted her and brought her to him.
When he saw her beauty, he wanted to have her for himself, but she did not let him. He brought her mother to persuade her but instead she besought her to endure patiently. She comforted her, told her that she must not forsake her true Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that she must not defile her virginity. When he knew what her mother had done, he commanded to break her teeth.
God gave St. Arbsima power to overcome the governor; she pushed him forcefully and he fell on his back. She left him lying on the floor although he was well known by his might and bravery in war. Ashamed of having been vanquished by a virgin damsel, he ordered to cut off her head. The soldiers came and tied her, tore out her tongue, plucked out her eyes, and then cut her into pieces. When the governor rose up from his fall and regained his senses, he was sorry for killing the saint. He ordered to slay the rest of the virgins. The soldiers pierced the soles of their feet, flayed them, cut them into pieces, and then cast them out. One of them was sick and was lying on a bed, and she cried out to the soldiers so she might join her sisters. So, they cut off her head also and thus, all the virgins received the crown of martyrdom. The soldiers also slew all who had come with them from Rome.
After their departure, the governor became mad and the physicians could not help him until Saint Gregory, Bishop of Armenia, came to him and prayed over him. By this he was healed of his affliction and believed in the Lord Christ. He took the bodies of the holy and pure virgins and laid them in a holy place.
Their intercession be for us, and Glory be to our God, forever. Amen.