Mar Qardagh

qardakhQardagh was born during the time of the Persian empire to pagan parents who were nobles in society. When he was 25 years old, King Shapur visited his parents’ estate and was deeply impressed with Qardagh’s handsome appearance and athleticism – especially with his skill at archery. After a particularly successful hunt, the king granted Qardagh a large amount of land and gave him authority as a governor over a large portion of northern Persia.

After two years of living as a nobleman, Qardagh met a Christian hermit named Abdisho’, and his life was never to be the same. After debating heatedly about Christianity and Zoroastrianism and arresting the hermit, there was a series of miraculous events that convinced Qardagh that Abdisho’ was a holy man and that his God was the true one. He faced East, made the sign of the Cross, and begged Christ to forgive him and accept him into his flock. He released the hermit and visited him in his hermitage. After learning the faith, he was baptized.

When he returned home, however, his family began to reject him due to his new faith, and this rejection became more and more violent. Qardagh was sentenced to death by the king due to pressures from the religious elite, but he did not give in so easily. Taking a small army with him, he fled to the mountains and held off the Persian army for a number of months. After valiantly defending himself for so long, Qardagh had a dream in which St. Stephen the Martyr appeared to him and told him that it was better to give his life for his faith than to continue fighting thus. It was his own father who threw the first of the stones that were to give Qardagh the crown of martyrdom. He was buried in Erbil, where a church was dedicated to him.