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E00106: The Martyrdom of *Eustathios of Mcxeta, written in Georgian in the second half of the 6th c., recounts the life and martyrdom in Tbilisi of Guirobondak, a Persian convert to Christianity, who took the name of Eustathios (Persian martyr in Georgia, S00059), and his burial in Mcxeta.

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posted on 2014-10-29, 00:00 authored by naleksidze
Martyrdom of Eustathios of Mcxeta


During the reign of Xuasro Anushirvan (531-579) a certain man came to Mcxeta from Iran, named Guirobondak. He had already been acquainted with the Christian faith, which prompted him to seek asylum in a Christian land. In Mcxeta he married a Christian woman and participated in everyday Christian life. Eventually the Katholikos of Iberia, Samuel, baptised him as Eustathios. Eustathios consistently refused to partake in Zoroastrian festivities, which was duly noted by local Zoroastrians who reported Eustathios to the head of the city, Ustam. Ustam captured him, together with seven other converted Christians, and dispatched them to the Persian Marzpan, Arvand Gushnasp, who resided in Tbilisi. The Marzpan threatened them with death in prison, and two of them apostatised from the faith. The rest however spent sixth months in prison. Samuel, the Katholikos of Kartli, Arshusha the Vitax of Kartli and Grigol the Mamsaxlisi of Kartli beseeched the Marzpan to set the prisoners free, and he indeed did so.

Three years later a new Marzpan arrived, called Vejan Buzmihr, who tried to reconvert Eustathios. Eustathios and a companion, Stephen, stood in front of the Marzpan and firmly rejected Zoroastrianism. Stephen was released as he was by birth Christian, Eustathios, however, remained in the Marzpan's presence. Eustathios firmly resisted, preached Christianity to the Marzpan. He recounted the Christian story from Abraham to Christ and to their own days. When the Marzpan saw that he would not yield, he ordered his guards to take him away and to behead him immediately, and then to get rid of the body to prevent Christians from venerating him.

მაშინ ვითარცა ცნა ბუზმირ მარზპანმან დამტკიცებული და შეუძრველი გული და გონებაჲ ნეტარისა ევსტათისი და ვერ შინებითა და ტანჯვითა და ვერცა კეთილისა ქადებითა არწმუნა მამული რჩული. პყრობად, უბრძანა მსახურთა: “წარიყვანეთ ეგე საპყრობილედ და იდუმალ ღამით თავი წარჰკუეთეთ, რაჲთა არავინ ქრისტეანეთა ცნან და პატივ-სცენ გუამსა მისსა, და წარიხუენით ჴორცნი მისნი ქალაქსა გარე, განაბნიენით შესაჭმელად მჴეცთა და მფრინველთა”.

'When Marzpan Buzmihr realised that the heart and the mind of blessed Eustathios was unshakeable, that neither through threats nor through torture nor through good promises could he convince him [to return to his] paternal faith, he ordered the servants to detain him: "Take him to prison and at night secretly behead him, so that no Christian hears [about his death] and honours his body. Then take his flesh outside the city and throw it to wild beasts and vultures!"'

When he was taken to the place of his execution, Eustathios prayed to God, and among other things, asked Him to not leave his body here in Tbilisi but to allow his bones to rest in Mcxeta, so that miracles could be performed through them. Then he heard a voice which announced to him that his wish would be granted. Stephen was immediately and miraculously notified that upon Eustathios' death he was to go and take his relics and bury them in Mcxeta, at the site of Eustathios' baptism. Then Eustathios was beheaded.

ხოლო გუამი მისი ღამე განიღეს გარეშე და დააგდეს მუნ. ხოლო ცნეს ვიეთ-მე ქრისტეანთა და წარიღეს იგი მცხეთას, რამეთუ სტეფანეს ემცნო მუნ მყოფთა ქრისტეანეთადა. ვითარცა მიიწინეს მცხეთას, უთხრეს სტეფანეს, და სტეფანე აუწყა სამოელს კათალიკოზსა. ხოლო მანდ ფრიად განიხარა და დაჰმარხა იგი დიდითა დიდებითა და პატივითა წმიდასა ეკლესიასა მცხეთისასა და ვიდრე აქამომდის იქმნებიან კურნებანი სნეულთანი მადლითა უფლისა ჩუენისა იესუ ქრისტჱსითა..."

'So they took his body outside and left it there. But some Christians heard about this and took him to Mcxeta, for Stephen had notified the local Christians [about Eustathios' death]. When they approached Mcxeta, they told Stephen, and Stephen informed the Katholikos Samuel. The latter greatly rejoiced and buried him with great praise and honour in the holy Church of Mcxeta, and until now the sick are being cured through the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ ...'

Text: Abuladze 1964. Translation: Lang 1976.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Eustathius of Mcxeta (Persian martyr, ob. later 6th century) : S00059

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom


  • Georgian

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region


Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Mcxeta Mcxeta მცხეთა Mcxeta Mtskheta

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Ecclesiastics - bishops Other lay individuals/ people Zoroastrians

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified


The Martyrdom of Eustathios of Mcxeta is an anonymous work dated to the second half of the 6th century. The oldest manuscript is dated to the late 10th century, other manuscripts are late, not earlier than the 18th century. Korneli Kekelidze was convinced that the Martyrdom was composed by a Miaphysite Georgian from Mcxeta in the 560s, although he was not able to present any substantial evidence in support of this claim. In general, Kekelidze was convinced that all Iberia was non-Chalcedonian before the first half of the 7th century. Contrary to this, Adolf Harnack and Ivane Javakhishvili believed that the text was composed by an eyewitness, and converted Persian, before the very end of the same century.


The exact date of Eustathios' death is uncertain and ranges from the 540s to the 570s. Despite the early date of the Martyrdom, Eustathios only appeared in the Georgian calendar much later. Early Georgian hagiography was particularly interested in promoting the cult of converted martyrs who had earlier been Zoroastrian or Muslim. These Martyrdoms served as models of emulation for the Georgians who lived first under Sasanian dominance and later under the Arabs. It is perhaps for this reason that this martyrdom account is less concerned about Eustathios' miracles after death, and his relics feature only in passing as having performed multiple healing miracles. Eustathios' main purpose is to serve as an exemplum for the Georgians during the ardent anti-Christian policy of Iran in the Caucasus. It is noteworthy that, like other martyrdom accounts produced in the Sasanian and later Muslim context, the Persians seek to dispose of the relics in order to prevent their veneration by local Christians. The Sasanians, themselves very opposed to any kind of reverence for matter, were particularly disturbed by the zealous veneration of the relics of the saints.


Edition: Abuladze, I. ძველი ქართული ჰაგიოგრაფიული ლიტერატურის ძეგლები [The Monuments of Old Georgian Hagiographic Literature] (Tbilisi, 1964), 30-40. Translations: Lang, D.M., Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints (London, 1976), 95-99. Sabinin, M., Полное жизнеописание святых грузинской церкви, II (St Petersburg, 1872), 79-91. Studies: Kekelidze, K., History of Old Georgian Literature (Tbilisi, 1980), 508-515. Rayfield, D., The Literature of Georgia: A History (London, 2000), 47-48.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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