NEW DELHI: Four hundred years after the Portuguese missionaries brought her relics to Goa, St. Queen Ketevan finally found the way back to her home in Georgia. Queen Ketevan, or ‘Ketevan the Martyr’ as she was popularly known as, was tortured at the hands of Safaviddynasty for her refusal to convert to Islam.
Queen Ketevan reigned over Khaketi, a region in Eastern Georgia, in the 17th century.
In, 1613, Safavid King, Shah Abbas I, defeated Khaketi and imprisoned the Queen for ten years as a hostage. After many failed attempts to convert her to Islam, she was tortured to death on September 22, 1624, in Shiraz. Her relics were lost in river Aravi sometime around 1723 CE.
It turns out that Augustinian friars, who had brought the martyred Queen’s body to Georgia, had also taken fragments with them to Goa and buried these.
The search for the Queen’s relics started in 1970s after new discoveries from Portuguese account came to light. But, it was only in 2005 that a few fragments of bones were found which generated considerable interest. After a DNA analysis of bone fragments, it was confirmed that it belonged to the Georgian Queen.
Union Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar handed over a part of the relics to Georgia’s Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani, on July 9, 2021 in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia. A part of the relics will remain in India as a “bridge of faith between two countries,” said Jaishankar during the handingover ceremony. He added, “I hope that in the coming years, the people of both of our nations will traverse that bridge of spirituality as much as of friendship.”