Commemorated on September 13
GreatMartyr Ketvana was descended from the imperial Bagration lineage and
was a great-grandchild of the emperor Constantine of Kartalin (1469-1505).
Having become the spouse of David, successor to the emperor Alexander II of
Khaketin (1577-1605), she herself governed the empire. The deep piety of the
empress was manifest in a particular attention to the needs of the Gruzian
(Georgian) Church, – in the building of churches, shelters and vagrants homes.
After the death of her husband Saint Ketvana settled into solitude.
The brother of her
husband, Constantine (called Okayan), accepted Mahometanism and on the
instructions of the shah Abbas I sent assassins to his dying father, the
emperor Alexander II, and his brother George. Having committed the crime,
Constantine gave orders to place the bodies of the murdered on camels and take
them to the empress Ketvana. Horrified at the wicked deed, the empress bewailed
the innocent sufferers and buried them at the Alaverdsk cathedral. The impious
one, however, enroached upon her honourable widowhood and demanded her hand,
threatening force in case of refusal.
The empress Ketvana
gathered the people of Kakhetin and marched against Constantine, defeating the
impious apostate. He met an inglorious death together with many in the Persian
army. Under the wise rule of the empress Ketvana, peace and justice were
re-established in Kakhetia. Shah Abbas I returned her son Teimuraz, who
although he had lived several years in court in the guise of an hostage,
preserved his Orthodox faith in purity. Afterwards the shah Abbas, threatening
Gruzia with destruction, coerced the Kakhetin feudal authorities into handing
over illustrious hostages. In that number voluntarily was the empress Ketvana.
Wanting to avert disaster for the Gruzian nation and Holy Church, she arrived
in Ispahan. Shah Abbas urged the nobleborn empress to accept Mahometanism, but
he received decisive refusal. Thereupon the empress Ketvana was thrown into
prison, where she spent ten years, filled with the sufferings of martyrdom.
Neither vileness from Persian courtiers, nor cunning offers by the shah to
elevate her to empress of the Persian realm, nor offers to her of great
treasure, nor the implorings and entreaties of the courtiers and Persian
nobles, – nothing was able to budge her, not even to uttering a single
blasphemous word against Christ, nothing was able to move the sufferer for
Christ. They tortured her with red-hot tongs hung cross-wise in wood. On the
head of the holy martyress they touched a red-hot iron kettle. The dense smoke
from her burning hair and head rose upwards, and the blessed martyress gave up
her soul to God on 13 September 1624.
Three bright pillars,
having come down upon the body of Saint Ketvana, signified her spiritual
victory. The relics of the holy empress were taken to Rome, to the cathedral of
the holy Apostle Peter, by monks of the Augustinian order who had been witnesses
to her deed of confessor. Part of the relics (the venerable head and right hand
of the martyress) was given by the Augustinian monks to emperor Teimuraz I and
placed beneathe the altar-table (prestol') of the Alaverdi cathedral of the
holy GreatMartyr George in Kakhetia. The Catholikos-Patriarch Zakharia
(1613-1630) enumerated the great-martyress to the rank of the saints and
established her memory on 13 September.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.