Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik

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The Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik (also translated as The Passion of Saint Shushanik; Georgian: წამებაჲ წმიდისა შუშანიკისი დედოფლისაჲ, Ts’amebay Ts’midisa Shushanikisi Dedop’lisai) is the earliest surviving extant piece of Georgian literature. Purported to have been written between 476 and 483, the earliest surviving manuscript, a translation of it into Armenian, dates from the 10th century. The author is Iakob Tsurtaveli (Jacob of Tsurtavi), a contemporary and participant of the events described in this hagiographic novel.

The manuscript describes the martyrdom of Saint Shushanik, an Armenian noblewoman, at the hand of her spouse, bidaxae (high prince) Varsken, who had renounced Christianity and embraced Zoroastrianism. Shushanik, whose father was Vardan Mamikonyan, the sparapet (military leader) of the Christians in Armenia, refused to follow him, and died as a martyr after years of imprisonment and torture.

The first printed version was published in 1882. It has been translated into Russian, French, English, German, Spanish, Hungarian and Icelandic. In 1979, UNESCO marked the 1500-anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik.


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