Commemorated on June 21
The Holy Martyr
Archil II belonged to the dynasty of the Chosroidoi, and he was a direct
descendant of the holy nobleborn emperor Saint Mirian (+ 342).
During the reign of
Archil II, Gruzia (Georgia) was subjected to a devastating invasion by
Murvana-Kru ("the Wild"), called such by the Georgian people for his
inexorable cruelty. The position of the Gruzian people was desperate, and the
emperor Archil II, together with his brother Myro, the ruler of Western Gruzia,
tearfully implored the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God, and She shew
forth Her mercy.
At a battle by the
Rivers Abasha and Tskhenis-Tskhali the Gruzian forces miraculously gained the
victory over the significantly superiour forces of Murvana-Kru.
After this victory
the emperor Archil II was occupied with the restoral of the Gruzian kingdom. He
rebuilt the city of Nukhpatis, restored ruined churches in Mtskheta and
furthered the acceptance of Christianity by many of the mountain tribes. But
soon Gruzia suffered a new Arab invasion – with the sudden appearance of
Dzhidzhum-Asim (Jijum-Asim). Having accordingly rendered tribute to the Arabs,
the nobleborn emperor did not expect this invasion. In order to deliver the
land from new devastation and avert the intrusion of Islam upon it, he reckoned
it beneficial to go himself to Dzhizhum-Asim, offer formerly independent Gruzia
in vassalage and ask for peace. Placing all his hope on the mercy of God and ready
to offer up his soul for his holy faith and for his nation, Saint Archil went
to the camp of the Arabs. Dzhidzhum-Asim received him hospitably and promised
his suzerainty, but insisted on acceptance of Mahometanism. As the
"Gruzian Chronicle" relates, the holy emperor Archil calmly answered:
"It will not be, that I should forsake Christ, the True God, Who for our
salvation took upon Himself human flesh. I know, if I obey thee, then I shalt
died a death eternal and shalt suffer eternally; if for my firmness thou do
subject me to death, I shalt then rise as did my Lord, and I shalt go to
Hearing these words,
Dzhidzhum-Asim gave orders to seize the confessor and take him off to prison.
But neither tortures nor urgings nor promises could make the nobleborn emperor
Archil apostacise his faith.
On 20 March 744 the
holy emperor Archil received a martyr's death by beheading. The body of the
martyr was secretly taken by Gruzian Christians to the locale Ertso and buried
in Kakhetia, in the Notkor church built by the holy emperor himself.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.