Saint Shushan Vardeni, the daughter of Vardan Mamikonyan, was born in 440. She was raised by her grandmother Sahakanush (Vardan Mamikonyan's mother), in a Christian environment. Shushan's birthname was Vardeni, which was given to her by her parents. She was married to Georgia's Ashusha II's son Vazgen. Shushan had three sons and one daughter from that marriage.
The marriage was unfortunate, but that was the proof of Shushan's strength and willpower. After the Battle of Avarayr in 451, Vazgen went to the Sasanian Empire for political reasons and became a worshipper of fire, disavowing Christianity. To have a stable base in the Sasanian Empire, Vazgen married a Persian woman and promised the Persian generals to make his wife Shushan and children disavow Christianity.
Hearing about this news, Shushan got devastated. She hid in a house near a church, refusing to return to the palace, to her husband. She started praying for the strength of her soul, which would guide her during this time. She well knew the brutality of her husband. In her prayers, Saint Shushan said that "I am ready for any brutality that my disavowed has prepared for me because I live by God and his holy spirit. I prefer dying rather than disavowing my religion."
Eventually, Shushan was persuaded to return to the palace. After returning, she did not associate herself with her husband. However, a few days after returning, Vazgen started beating and torturing her.
She was put into a dungeon with some bread and water. The church server of the palace had the bravery to visit Shushan. He got emotionally wounded after seeing Shushan in that state. Shushan, on her turn, told him that, "Don't cry on me, because no one can take its place in fairness and serenity without being tortured and hurt."
Years pass. The strength of the Holy Spirit gave Shushan so much power that she did not eat or drink for days, dedicating her time to praying. She only ate on Saturdays and Sundays after the Holy Sacrament. Shushan was tortured for six years, staying alive with religion, bread, and water.
Her son was killed during this time, drowning in a river, but she preferred this kind of death over abandoning religion. During the seventh year of her torture, Shushan became ill. She died in the same room and was buried in Tbilisi citadel.
Saint Shushan is a bright example of an Armenian that does not disavow her religion. Seeing that her husband was killing Christian Armenians and destroying churches, Shushan managed to save Saint Nune's cross, which later was taken to her relatives in Taron. After her death, Grigor Mamikonyan, the relative of Shushan, took the cross to Artagers. Later on, the cross was taken to Ani in 1094. After the invasions of Tatars, the location of the cross is unknown.
Saint Shushan's feast day is celebrated between September 20-26 every year. She is a holy saint in the Armenian and Georgian churches.
Ardean's Queen Shushanik scarf is dedicated to this powerful woman, who stayed true to her identity and is an ideal of power, pureness, and loyalty.