In the village of Troitskoye, Tselinny District, Kalmykia, the headman of the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity Alexander Lobanov reported that the relics of the Holy Martyr Hripsime were discovered.
“A month and a half ago, we discovered the relics of the Martyr Hripsime here. Thanks to the deed of this girl, Armenia was baptized. And thanks to her courage, Armenia became the first Christian country,” Lobanov said during the visit of the acting governor of Kalmykia Batu Khasikov to the village of Troitskoye.”
According to the headman, the relics of Hripsime accidentally ended up in Kalmykia in as early as the Soviet years. “This is a great shrine for all the Orthodox and especially the Armenians,” said Lobanov.
Lobanov also spoke of the ongoing works on the expansion of the temple which began in April on the funds of parishioners’ donations.
Hripsime (Armenian: Հռիփսիմէ, Ancient Greek: Ριψιμιά, in the Russian church tradition: Ripsimia) was an early Christian Armenian preacher, martyr, and saint.
In 301, 37 Christian girls arrived in Armenia. Previously, they had lived in the ancient Roman monastery of St. Paul whose prioress was Gayane.
Hripsime’s beauty captivated Emperor Diocletian himself, but not wanting to obey his will and become his wife, she took refuge in Alexandria together with her friends.
There, according to a legend, before the girls appeared the Holy Mother of God who showed them the way to Armenia. Armenian king Trdat III, having learned about what had happened to the girls in Rome, himself wished to marry the beautiful Hripsime.
She and the mentor Gayane were brought to the royal palace. The king wanted to take possession of Hripsime, but the rejection of the virgin who declared that she belonged only to Christ enraged him.
Trdat ordered stoning all 37 Christian girls (only Saint Nina, the future baptist of Georgia, managed to escape). After the execution of innocent Christians, Trdat fell ill with a severe mental illness.
Gregory the Illuminator healed the king’s madness. Then, believing in the power of the Christian faith, Trdat III was baptized, had his people baptized, and proclaimed Christianity the state religion of Armenia (everything happened in 301).
“Sufferings of Hripsime and Gayane”, Constantinople, miniature from the Menologion of Basil II, c. 1000 AD, Vatican Library, Rome.
In 618, in honor of Saint Hripsime, a church was built in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, which has survived to this day and is considered the best example of a cross-domed church built in medieval Armenia.