Gregory the Illuminator
A mosaic at Pammakaristos Church, Istanbul
| Catholicos of All Armenians |
(Patriarch of Armenia)
Kingdom of Armenia
|Died||c. 331 (aged 73–74)|
Kingdom of Armenia
|Venerated in|| Armenian Apostolic Church |
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Armenian Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Feast||March 23 (Anglican Church)|
June 9 (Armenian Apostolic Church)
September 30 (Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic Church)
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|Oriental Orthodox churches|
Gregory the Illuminator : Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ, reformed: Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ; Grigor Lusavorich) (c. 257 –c. 331) is the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He was a religious leader who is credited with converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity in 301. Armenia thus became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.(classical Armenian
Gregory was the sonof the Armenian Parthian nobles Anak the Parthian and Okohe. His father, Anak, was a Prince said to be related to the Arsacid Kings of Armenia or was from the House of Suren, one of the seven branches of the ruling Arsacid dynasty of Sakastan. Anak was charged with assassinating Khosrov II, one of the kings of the Arsacid dynasty and was put to death. Gregory narrowly escaped execution with the help of Sopia and Yevtagh, his caretakers. He was taken to Caesarea in Cappadocia where Sopia and Yevtagh hoped to raise him. Gregory was given to the Christian Holy Father Phirmilianos (Euthalius) to be educated and was brought up as a devout Christian.
Upon coming of age, Gregory married a woman called Miriam, a devout Christian who was the daughter of a Christian Armenian prince in Cappadocia. From their union, Miriam bore Gregory two children, their sons Vrtanes and Aristaces. Through Vrtanes, Gregory and Miriam would have further descendants and when Gregory died, Aristaces succeeded him. At some point, Miriam and Gregory separated in order that Gregory might take up a monastic life. Gregory left Cappadocia and went to Armenia in the hope of atoning for his father's crime by evangelizing his homeland.
At that time Tiridates III, son of the late King Khosrov II, reigned. Influenced partly by the fact that Gregory was the son of his father's enemy, he ordered Gregory imprisoned for twelve (some sources indicate fourteen) years in a pit on the Ararat Plain under the present day church of Khor Virap located near the historical city Artashat in Armenia. Gregory was eventually called forth from his pit in c. 297 to restore to sanity Tiridates III, who had lost all reason after he was betrayed by Roman emperor Diocletian. Diocletian invaded and vast amounts of territory from western provinces of Greater Armenia became protectorates of Rome.
In 301 Gregory baptized Tiridates III along with members of the royal court and upper class as Christians. Tiridates III issued a decree by which he granted Gregory full rights to begin carrying out the conversion of the entire nation to the Christian faith. The same year Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion.The newly built cathedral, the Mother Church in Etchmiadzin became and remains the spiritual and cultural center of Armenian Christianity and center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Most Armenians were baptized in the Aratsani (upper Euphrates) and Yeraskh (Arax) rivers. Two princes from Ujjain, India had founded a large kingdom in Armenia in 165 BCE and they established 22 cities covering most of modern Armenia including two Hindu temples dedicated to Gisane and Demetr. According to the account of Zenob Glak, one of the first disciples of Gregory the Illuminator, the temples were destroyed and the priests killed along with 1038 defenders of the raid that was ordered by Gregory.
Many of the pre-Christian (traditional Indo-European) festivals and celebrations such as Tyarndarach (Trndez, associated with fire worship) and Vardavar or Vadarvar associated with water worship, that dated back thousands of years, were preserved and continued in the form of Christian celebrations and chants. In 302, Gregory received consecration as Patriarch of Armenia from Leontius of Caesarea,his childhood friend.
In 318, Gregory appointed his second son Aristaces as the next Catholicosin line of Armenia's Holy Apostolic Church to stabilize and continue strengthening Christianity not only in Armenia, but also in the Caucasus. Gregory also placed and instructed his grandson Gregory (one of the sons of Vrtanes) in charge of the holy missions to the peoples and tribes of all of the Caucasus and Caucasian Albania; the younger man was martyred by a fanatical mob while preaching in Albania.
In his later years, Gregory withdrew to a small sanctuary near Mount Sebuh (Mt. Sepuh) in the Daranali province (Manyats Ayr, Upper Armenia) with a small convent of monks, where he remained until his death.
After his death his corpse was removed to the village of Thodanum (T'ordan, modern Doğanköy, near Erzincan). His remains were scattered near and far in the reign of the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno. His head is believed to be now in Armenia, his left hand at Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and his right at the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon. In the 8th century, the iconoclast decrees in Greece caused a number of religious orders to flee the Byzantine Empire and seek refuge elsewhere. San Gregorio Armeno in Naples was built in that century over the remains of a Roman temple dedicated to Ceres, by a group of nuns escaping from the Byzantine Empire with the relics of Gregory.
A number of prayers, and about thirty of the canonical hymns of the Armenian Church, are ascribed to Gregory the Illuminator. Homilies of his appeared for the first time in a work called Haschacnapadum at Constantinople in 1737; a century afterwards a Greek translation was published at Venice by the Mekhiterists; and they have since been edited in German by J M Schmid (Ratisbon, 1872). The original authorities for Gregory's life are Agathangelos, whose History of Tiridates was published by the Mekhitarists in 1835; Moses of Chorene, Historiae Armenicae; and Symeon the Metaphrast.
A Life of Gregory by the Vartabed Matthew was published in the Armenian language at Venice in 1749 and was translated into English by the Rev. Father Malan (1868). Gregory is commemorated on September 30 by the Orthodox Church, which styles him "Holy Hieromartyr Gregory, Bishop of Greater Armenia, Equal of the Apostles and Enlightener of Armenia." He is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on March 23.
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the national church of the Armenian people. Part of Oriental Orthodoxy, it is one of the most ancient Christian institutions. The Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion under the rule of King Tiridates III in the early 4th century. According to tradition, the church originated in the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus of Edessa in the 1st century.
Grigor Narekatsi was an Armenian mystical and lyrical poet, monk, and theologian. He is a saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis in 2015.
Agathangelos is the pseudonym of the author of a life of the first apostle of Armenia, Gregory the Illuminator, who died about 332.
Tiridates III, also known as Tiridates the Great Տրդատ Մեծ, or Tiridates IV, to distinguish him from another Tiridates thought to have ruled several years earlier, was the king of Arsacid Armenia. In 301, Tiridates proclaimed Christianity as the state religion of Armenia, making the Armenian kingdom the first state to embrace Christianity officially.
The Arsacid dynasty or Arshakuni, ruled the Kingdom of Armenia from 12 to 428. The dynasty was a branch of the Arsacid dynasty of Parthia. Arsacid kings reigned intermittently throughout the chaotic years following the fall of the Artaxiad dynasty until 62 when Tiridates I secured Parthian Arsacid rule in Armenia. However, he did not succeed in establishing his line on the throne, and various Arsacid members of different lineages ruled until the accession of Vologases II, who succeeded in establishing his own line on the Armenian throne, which would rule the country until it was abolished by the Sasanian Empire in 428.
Varazdat was a king of Arsacid Armenia from 374 until 378.
Khosrov III the Small was a Prince who served as a Roman Client King of Arsacid Armenia.
Tiran known also as Tigranes VII or Tigranes and Diran was a Prince who served as a Roman Client King of Arsacid Armenia from 339 until 350. He was a contemporary and is associated with the life of Saint Sarkis the Warrior and his son, Saint Mardiros.
Saint Hripsime Church is a seventh century Armenian Apostolic church in the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), Armenia. It is one of the oldest surviving churches in the country. The church was erected by Catholicos Komitas to replace the original mausoleum built by Catholicos Sahak the Great in 395 AD that contained the remains of the martyred Saint Hripsime to whom the church is dedicated. The current structure was completed in 618 AD. It is known for its fine Armenian-style architecture of the classical period, which has influenced many other Armenian churches since. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other nearby churches, including Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia's mother church, in 2000.
The Church of Saint Gayane is a 7th-century Armenian church in Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), the religious center of Armenia. It is located within walking distance from the Etchmiadzin Cathedral of 301. St. Gayane was built by Catholicos Ezra I in the year 630. Its design has remained unchanged despite partial renovations of the dome and some ceilings in 1652.
Roman Armenia refers to the rule of parts of Greater Armenia by the Roman Empire, from the 1st century AD to the end of Late Antiquity. While Armenia Minor had become a client state and incorporated into the Roman Empire proper during the 1st century AD, Greater Armenia remained an independent kingdom under the Arsacid dynasty. Throughout this period, Armenia remained a bone of contention between Rome and the Parthian Empire, as well as the Sasanian Empire that succeeded the latter, and the casus belli for several of the Roman–Persian Wars. Only in 114–118 was Emperor Trajan able to conquer and incorporate it as a short-lived province.
Saint Aristaces also known as Aristakes was assigned by St. Gregory I the Enlightener as the next Armenian Catholicos in line of Armenia's Holy Apostolic Church, to stabilize and continue strengthening Christianity not only in Armenia, but also in the Caucasus Albania and Anatolia. He was the second son of St. Gregory I the Enlightener to his wife Miriam and his older brother was Vrtanes. At the time, the position was hereditary and assigned to the Parthian dynasty.
Vrtanes also known Saint Vrtanes was Armenian Catholicos in the Armenia's Holy Apostolic Church. Vrtanes succeeded immediately after St. Gregory I the Enlightener and Aristaces as third in line in the then-hereditary Parthian line of Catholicoi. Vrtanes was the first son born to St. Gregory I the Enlightener by his wife Miriam and his younger brother was Aristaces. He was the father of St. Husik I and Gregory by an unnamed wife. He reigned from 333 to 341.
Saint Husik I, often known as Husik was a Catholicos of Armenia's Holy Apostolic Church who lived in the fourth century. He was the fourth in line of then of the Parthian Catholicoi immediately after Gregory the Illuminator, St. Aristaces I and St. Vrtanes I.
The Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, also known as the Yerevan Cathedral is the largest cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is located in the Kentron District of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, and is one of the largest religious buildings in the South Caucasus along with the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. Adjacent to the General Andranik metro station, it is visible from many corners of Yerevan.
Khor Virap is an Armenian monastery located in the Ararat plain in Armenia, near the closed border with Turkey, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of Artashat, Ararat Province, within the territory of ancient Artaxata. The monastery was host to a theological seminary and was the residence of Armenian Catholicos.
This article is about Khosrovidukht, the Armenian Princess of the Arsacid dynasty who lived in the 3rd century and 4th century. For the Armenian Poet who lived in the 8th century, see Khosrovidukht.
Ashkhen often known as Queen Ashkhen was the wife of King Tiridates III of Armenia. Through her marriage she became Queen of Armenia and a member of the Arsacid dynasty.
Khosrov II was an Armenian king from Arsacid dynasty.
Anak the Parthian, also known as Anak Pahlavi, was a Parthian noble who lived during the time of Arsacid Armenia.
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| Catholicos of the Holy See of St. Echmiadzin and All Armenians |
St. Aristaces I