Dec 12 2006

St. Gregory the Illuminator

St Gregory the Illuminator

St. Gregory the Illuminator or St. Gregory the Enlightener was founder and patron saint of the Armenian Church. In 301, he converted Armenia into the first Christian Nation.

At that time Tiridates III (pronounced: dir’tard) was the reigning king of Armenia from 286 AD – 330 AD. Gregory would go around Armenia preaching Christianity and praising the Lord Jesus Christ. Tiridates and Gregory did not have a good past considering that their fathers were enemies. Tiridates did not appreciate his teachings and imprisoned him for thirteen years in a pit at present day Khor Virap. (below)
The only reason he survived the thirteen years in the pit was because Tiridates’ sister fed him bread and water through a small hole. During his last year in the pit, Gregory was taken by the King’s sister because the Tiridates was deathly ill and since Gregory was religious and believed in Jesus she thought he could help. Gregory cured the King and because of this saintly act, Tiridates proclaimed that Armenia be converted to Christianity as the first Christian nation in the world.

Echmiadzin-cathedralIn 301, Gregory saw a vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the earth with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built. Echmiadzin, which may be translated as “the place where the Only Begotten descended”, is the headquarters of His Holiness, the Catholicos. It is only fitting that Gregory became the first Catholicos of Armenia.

In 318, Gregory appointed his son Aristaces to be his successor as Catholicos and went to live in a cave in the mountain Sebuh where he died a few years later. When he was found, his remains were scattered near and far. His head is believed to be now in Italy, his right hand at Echmiadzin in Armenia, and his left at the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon.

13 years, 301, armenian church, enlightener, gregory, illuminator, khor virap, pit, st gregory, Echmiadzin, Catholicos, Tiridates

About the author

Timothy Haroutunian

Timothy Haroutunian is a ServiceNow Cloud Implementation Specialist at Acorio. ServiceNow is an IT Management solution that allows for a complete view of your IT and physical environment.

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