Khosrovidukht (sister of Tiridates III of Armenia)

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This article is about Khosrovidukht, the Armenian Princess of the Arsacid dynasty who lived in the 3rd century and 4th century. For the Armenian Poet who lived in the 8th century, see Khosrovidukht.

Khosrovidukht also known as Xosroviduxt (Armenian: Խոսրովիդուխտ, flourished second half of 3rd century & first half of 4th century) was a Princess of the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia,[1] one of the client-kingdoms of the Roman Empire. She is regarded as a prominent figure in Armenian society and is a significant figure in Christianity in Armenia.

Khosrovidukht was the known daughter of King Khosrov II of Armenia[2] by an unnamed mother and her known sibling was her brother was Tiridates III of Armenia who ruled Armenia from 287-330. The name Khosrovidukht was a dynastic name in the Arsacid royal house[1] as she was the namesake of her father and her paternal great-grandfather Khosrov I, a previous ruling Armenian King.[3] Like all members of the Arsacid dynasty she was of Armenian, Persian, Greek and Medes ancestry.


She was born in an unknown city in Armenia. In 252, her father and the remainder of her family were assassinated by Anak a Parthian agent under the orders of King Ardashir I. After the capture and execution of Anak, in order to protect and preserve the Armenian sovereignty the Roman authorities took her brother as an infant to be raised and reared in Rome, while Khosrovidukht was taken to be raised in Caesarea Mazaca, Cappadocia.[4] The foster parents of Khosrovidukht were Awtay a nobleman from the family of the Amatunik and Awtay’s wife a noblewoman whose name is unknown was from the family of the Slkunik.[5]

In the year 287, Tiridates III was restored to the Armenian throne by the Roman emperor Diocletian, which the country was previously ruled by the Parthian Kings and later by the Sassanids Kings who were expelled from Armenia by her brother and his army. After her brother became Armenian King, Khosrovidukht returned to the country with her foster family to be with her brother. At some date during his reign, Tiridates III erected at Garni for his sister, a summer residence ornamented with columns and magnificent bas-reliefs, the commemorative inscription was in Greek. The inscription reveals that the work was not done by Armenian hands.[6]

Khosrovidukht, Tiridates III and many Armenians in that period were followers of the religion of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism was the head religion of the Armenian state. In Tiridates III’s reign, Christian persecutions occurred throughout the Roman Empire. As her brother was an ally to Rome, he participated in these events. Tiridates III ordered the execution of many Christians, who opposed to worship the various pagan religions in the Roman Empire. These Christians who Tiridates III had harshly persecuted lived in Armenia or had fled to the country to escape the religious massacres. Among his victims, Tiridates III was responsible for the martyrdom of the Hripsimeyan nuns and condemining Gregory the Illuminator to the Khor Virap a deep underground dungeon.[7][8]

After the martyrdom of the Hripsimeyan nuns, Tiridates III had lost his sanity[7] and had become mentally ill. Tiridates III adopted the behaviour of a wild boar, aimlessly wandering around in the forest. Khosrovidukht out of concerned for her brother, did everything to bring her brother back to sanity.[9]

The baptism of Tiridates III

In her sleep Khosrovidukht, had a dream where appeared to her a vision from God.[10] She saw in her dream a man in the likeness of light came to her and told her "there is no other cure for these torments that have come upon you, unless you send to the city of Artashat and bring thence the prisoner Gregory. When he comes he will teach you the remedy for your ills."[10] Khosrovidukht had this vision five times.[11] She came to speak to the people about her vision and the populace heard this and they began to mock her words. They began to say to her: "You too then are mad. Some demon has possessed you. How is it, because it is fifteen years since they threw him into the terribly pit, that you say he is alive? Where would even his bones be? For on the same day when they put him down there, he would have immediately dropped dead at the very sight of the snakes."[12]

With threats, if she unless she reported it immediately she would have suffered great torments and the afflictions of the people and of the king would become even worse, with death and various tortures.[11] Khosrovidukht came forward again in great fear and hesitation and told Tiridates III about her vision.[11] Khosrovidukht in character was a modest maiden like a nun and did not all have an open mouth like other women.[13]

When Khosrovidukht told her brother about her visions, Tiridates III straight away sent her foster father Awtay to Artashat to Gregory out of the dungeon and deep pit.[11] When Gregory was brought to Tiridates III, he was in imprisonment for 15 years, although he was malnourished the odds of him being alive was slim. It is believed that Khosrovidukht or a woman, secretly fed Gregory while during his imprisonment.[2] While her brother ordered the persecutions of Christians, Khosrovidukht and her sister-in-law Ashkhen most probably had already accepted Christianity through the efforts of the Hripsimeyan nuns and others in the Armenian Christian underground.[7] There is a possibility that Khosrovidukht and Ashkhen may have protected Christians from religious persecutions.

After Gregory with brought to Tiridates III, he was miraculously cured of his illness in 301.[14] Tiridates III was persuaded by the power of the cure, proclaimed immediately Christianity as the official religion of the state in Armenia. Thus Armenia became the first nation to officially adopt Christianity[9] and Gregory was appointed Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Tiridates III recovered from his illness he became a passionate Christian and the Christian persecutions had ended. Sometime after Tiridates III's baptism, Gregory baptised Tiridates III's family, his entire court and his army on the Euphrates River.[9][7]

After 301 til her death, possibly around 330, Khosrovidukht and her family dedicated the rest of their lives to the service of Jesus Christ.[7] As Tiridates III encouraged and supported the spread of Christianity, Tiridates III, Khosrovidukht and Ashkhen participated in the construction of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Saint Gayane Church, Saint Hripsime Church and the Shoghakat Church.[8] During the construction of Saint Gayane and Saint Hripsime Churches, Ashkhen and Khosrovidukht donated their jewels for the expenses for the church.[15]

Towards the end of her life, Khosrovidukht with Ashkhen retired to the castle of Garni.[2] Khosrovidukht, Tiridates III and Ashkhen are Saints in the Armenian Apostolic Church and their feast day is on the Saturday after the fifth Sunday after Pentecost.[8] On this feast day To the Kings is sung.[2] Their feast day is usually around June 30.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies, Iranian History: Armeno-Iranian Relations in Pre-Islamic Period By: Nina Garsoian, October 20, 2004
  2. ^ a b c d Biography on Saint Gregory the Illuminator
  3. ^ Her name is the female variant of the Persian name Khosrov, which comes from the Parthian khusrav reputation and dukht daughter i.e. Khosrov’s daughter, see Khosrau
  4. ^ Eghiayean, Heroes of Hayastan: a dramatic novel history of Armenia, p.191
  5. ^ Dodgeon, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars AD 226-363, p.270
  6. ^ Moslem architecture: its origins and development, by G.T. Riviora, translated from the Italian by G.M.C.N. Rushforth Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1918
  7. ^ a b c d e Armenian Catholic Church: The Saints - King Drtad, Queen Ashkhen and Princess Khosrovitookht (c. 330 AD)
  8. ^ a b c Biographies of Armenian Saints, St Drtad (250-330)
  9. ^ a b c Biography of Saint Gregory - St. Gregory and St. Grigoris
  10. ^ a b Thomson, Agathangelo's History of the Armenians, p.219
  11. ^ a b c d Thomson, Agathangelo's History of the Armenians, p.221
  12. ^ Thomson, Agathangelo’s History of the Armenians, p.p.219&221
  13. ^ Dodgeon, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars AD 226-363, p.271
  14. ^ Thomson, Agathangelo's History of the Armenians
  15. ^ Eghiayean, Heroes of Hayastan: a dramatic novel history of Armenia, p.201


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