Born Vardeni Mamikonian c. 440-475. She was the daughter of the Armenian supreme military commander (sparapet) Saint Vartan Mamikonian. Married to the prominent Georgian feudal lord (pitiakhsh) Varsken, son of Arshusha. Possibly to strengthen the relations between the Armenian and Georgian kingdoms to get support against the fire-worshipping King Yazgert of the Sassanid Empire who was trying to convert the Armenians to Zoroastrianism with blood and fire.
The intentions of the marrige was never fulfilled as the Georgian lord Varsken took a pro-persian stance, renouncing Christianity and adopting Zoroastrianism. SaintShushanik refused to submit to his order to abandon her Christian faith. For this she was executed by Varsken. She is honoured by the Armenian Apostolic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church Eastern, Catholic Churches, Oriental Orhtodox Churches and the Georgian Orthodox Church.
Shushanik has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church and is venerated by the Armenian Apostolic Church. Her feast day is celebrated on October 17.
Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik (წამებაჲ წმიდისა შუშანიკისი დედოფლისაჲ) is the earliest surviving extant piece of Georgian literature. Purported to have been written between 476 and 483.
Her courage is a symbol for christianity and for the Armenian people; the struggle for Freedom. Her strength is also a symbol for the strength of women.