Feasts Of The Armenian Apostolic Church

Commemoration of the Apostle St. James and Evangelist St. John

St. James was the son of the fisherman Zebedee, the senior brother of the Evangelist St. John. He was one of the closest and most reliable disciples of Jesus and the witness of the important events related to Jesus.

When Samaritans refused to receive Christ James and his brother asked Jesus to send fire down on the people as prophet Elijah did. Jesus reproached them for their groundless behavior. Because of such events Jess called them “Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder” (See Mk 3:17). James is the only apostle about whose death is told in the “Acts of the Apostles”. Herod arrested James and stabbed him.

The name of this apostle is closely related to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. According to the tradition the head of the St. James was brought to James, brother of Jesus, who buried it in the garden of his house. Later the Cathedral of St. James was built in that same place, and in the chapel opened in the northern wall the tomb of the apostle’s head is shown.

Evangelist St. John is the author of the fourth Gospel, three letters and the Revelation. He deserved the title of the “beloved disciple” of Christ. Jesus loved and trusted him so much that at the moment of crucifixion asked him to take care of the Holy Mother of God. He passed away in 100 AD, in Ephesus, at the age of 95.

Eve of the Fast of Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Fast of Christmas)

Eve of the Fast of Christmas is always celebrated on December 29, that is – 7 days before the Feast of Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas) and is ended on January 5, the eve of the feast.

 

Commemoration of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul

St. Peter was one of the 12 apostles of Christ. He was the brother of Andrew. He was one of the beloved apostles of Jesus and the witness of Our Lord’s transfiguration and the other important events related to Jesus. Peter was a fisherman. His name given during the circumcision was Shmavon, or Simon (in Greek). About this apostle for the first time was written in the Gospel according to John, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter) (Jn 1:42). Peter was born in the village Bethsaida and later was moved to the town Capernaum where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Peter is more famous from the part of the Gospel when he said that Christ was the Son of the living God. And Jesus stated that being the Savior of the world and the Son of God He would build His Church (See Mt 16:15-19).

During the night when Jesus was arrested Peter denied Jesus thrice and later deeply regretted for his deed. After the Pentecost it was Peter that explained to the people assembled what had happened and spoke about Incarnated Jesus. One of the important deeds of Peter was bringing the heathens to the church. Peter was arrested by the King Herod but escaped the prison by a miracle.

According to the tradition Peter was martyred in Rome and was crucified head-down. Two letters from Peter have been preserved.

St. Paul is the thirteenth Apostle of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He was born in the town Tarsus of Cilicia in the beginning of the first century. His parents were citizens of Rome who according to Heronimus had came from Galilee. First he studied in his native town and then he continued his education in Jerusalem, where his teacher was Gamaliel. Paul was a tent-maker by trade and this circumstance often helped him during the trips, when he earned his living by means of making tents. According to his own words Paul had been a Pharisee, had strictly obeyed the law and persecuted the Christians. However, on his way to Damascus Jesus appeared to Paul, after which Apostle Paul (whose name was initially Saul) became one of the greatest preachers of Christ’s commandments. He was baptized by the apostle Ananias. He has made several trips and preached the word of God. Fourteen letters from Paul have been preserved.

According to the tradition Paul was beheaded in 67 AD in Rome.

 

Commemoration of St. Stephen the Protomartyr and the first martyr

St. Stephen is one of the most beloved saints of the Universal Church, the first person martyred for the sake of Christ’s doctrine of love.

According to the hagiographical sources he was from the royal dynasty of Judas and was the son of law-abiding parents. Still a young man he was the servant of the chief priest Kayipaya. According to the same sources when the Lord was taken to home, Stephen took off the cloth from his head and spread it under the Lord’s feet thus expressing his true and sincere love. This naturally annoyed the chief priest and he turned Stephen out. Stephen witnessed the death and burial of the Lord but rejoiced with the apostles for the Glorious Resurrection of Christ. According to St. Gregory of Tatev he went to the apostles Peter and John and was baptized. At the moment of baptism an aureole (crown) appeared on the water. After that miraculous event he was called “Stephen” meaning (crowned). From the Acts of the Apostles it is known that after the Pentecost apostles served the tables and gave subsidies to the poor. From day to day increased the number of those who believed in Christ. As the apostles were unable to meet the needs of everybody, asked their disciples to choose 7 persons of good reputation for serving the tables. According to St. Luke the Evangelist one of them was St. Stephen, “… a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). By the power received from Christ apostles ordained him deacon. Thanks to his God-granted virtues and power Stephen worked wonders. Many people tried to argue with him, but no one was as wise as Stephen. So, some ill-willing persons persuaded some people to say that Stephen scolded God and the Prophet Moses. Inciting the people, the priests and the lawyers they took Stephen to the court. In his speech in his defense Stephen proved that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and reproached the Jews for their cruelty. He was stoned out of the city and his cloths were put before a man whose name was Saul and who later became the Apostle Peter. In the beginning he persecuted Christians but later he knew the true God – Jesus Christ, and became the most zealous preacher of the Gospel. St. Stephen was the first person martyred for the sake of Christ and that’s why he is called Protomartyr.

According to the tradition Gamaliel, the teacher of the Apostle Peter, and Nicodemus, his brother, who were secrete disciples of Jesus, buried the saint’s body in their farm. Soon a priest named Lukianus discovered the relics. And Pontiff Hovhan of Jerusalem put them in St. Sion. In the V century Princess Juliane found the saint’s tabernacle in Jerusalem and took it to Constantinople, and later – to Venice and buried it in the Church of St. George (St. Gevorg) island.
 

Commemoration of the Prophet St. David and Apostle St. James, brother of Jesus

Prophet St. David was the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth. The Holy Bible depicts him as a psalmist, gifted, wise, handsome man and orator. He was a shepherd. During the battle against Philistines he killed the giant Goliath. After the death of Saul he became the king of Israel and founded the city Jerusalem. He is the author of the book of Psalms and one of the greatest and influential figures of the Old Testament. Special importance is accorded to the fact that he is the offspring of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. James, brother of Jesus, is the combining link between the Evangelical saints and the saints mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. He is one of the important figures of the Initial Church and the first Bishop of Jerusalem. Jewish historian Hovsepius characterizes him as “righteous”.

According to hagiographical sources some people forced him to get on the tower and slander against Jesus. However, getting on the tower, he started to speak about Jesus the Messiah who sat on the right side of God and would come to judge the world fairly. Many people were converted, but others threw the saint down from the tower. According to the tradition St. James is buried in the Cathedral of St. James of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. One letter from James has been preserved in order to symbolize the merging the Old and New Testaments in Christianity.

The Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates the memory of the Prophet St. David and Apostle St. James, brother of Jesus, during the main feasts preceding the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Commemoration of the Virgins Sts. Indos, Domna, Prist Glerikus and twenty thousand martyrs martyred in the Church of Nicomidia

St. Indos was an eunuch in the royal palace of the king Dioclethianus in the city of Nicomidia, and St. Domna was the heathen priestess of the royal idols. Being acquainted with the Holy Bible, they were converted to Christianity and because of that were put into the prison. After being subjected to torments for a long time they were martyred in 305 AD.

During the period of reign of the king Dioclethianus on the Feast of Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ Christians of Nikomidia assembled in the church to pray. The king put an idol in the church and ordered everyone to worship the idol. Priest St. Glericus refused to obey the king’s order and because of disobeying be was subjected to torments and was martyred. The king got angry and ordered to burn the church. The twenty thousand Christians attending the ceremony were martyred in the Church in 303 AD.

 

Commemoration of Bishop St. Theopompus, martyr St. Theovna and soldiers Sts. Basos, Eusebius, Eutikus and Basilides

Bishop St. Theopompus and martyr St. Theovna have been martyred in the city of Nicomidia in 303, during the period of reign of the king Dioclethianus. Being Christian Bishop Theopompus opposed the king and didn’t worship the idols, for which he was thrown into the stove. However, the saint was saved by a miracle, and the king got angrier and put the saint into the prison. It was then that the king called the magus Theovna and asked him to win the saint by means of witchery. However, meeting the saint Theovna believed in Jesus Christ, for which he was buried in the deep pit still being alive, and Theopompus was beheaded.

Soldiers Sts. Basos, Eusebius, Eutikus and Basilides were also martyred in the city of Nicomedia in 303, during the period of reign of the king Dioclethianus. They were the soldiers who kept watch over St. Theopompus. Witnessing his patience and unshakeable faith in Christ they were converted to true faith and become Christians. Becoming aware of this fact, the king deprived them of all honors and wealth and put them into the prison. After severe torments the soldiers were martyred.

Commemoration of the Pontiffs Sts. Ignatius, Adde and Bishop Maruta

According to the tradition Pontiff St. Ignatius was the happy child whom Jesus took in his arms, and appealing to the apostles said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 18:3). He was the disciple of the Apostles Peter and John, as well as the second Bishop of Antioch and was very popular in the East. During the period of reign of the king Trayanos he was imprisoned and accompanied by the soldiers was sent to Rome, where he was martyred in 113-117 voluntarily bringing himself sacrifice to the lions. He has written many letters addressed to various Christian communities, only seven of which have been preserved.

Pontiff St. Adde was the Bishop of Yedessia ordained by the Apostle St. Thaddeus. He was martyred upon the order of the heathen king in the second quarter of the I century.

Bishop St. Maruta was the Bishop of the city Nprkert of the Fourth Hayk. His father was Assyrian, and mother – Armenian. He was very popular in Persia and Byzantine. He has participated in the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople. As the envoy of the Theodos he was twice sent to the Persian King Hazkert to negotiate on stopping the Christians’ persecutions. He passed away in 422.

 

Commemoration of the Pontiff St. James of Nisibis, hermit St. Maruge and Bishop St. Melitus

Pontiff St. James of Nisibis is one of the authoritative and beloved saints of the Universal Church. He has deserved the epithet “Thaumaturge” (Wonderworker) for the numerous miracles relating to his name. According to hagiographical sources St. James was from a Parthian dynasty and the nephew of St. Gregory the Illuminator. When the family members of Anak the Parthian were killed nurses secretly fled to Caesaria taking with them baby Suren and James where they were educated in Christian spirit. Soon baby James and his sister Sakden were taken to Persia and for a while lived in the royal palace. However, James refused from safe and well-to-do life and became a hermit. He left for Nisibis where he met hermit St. Maruge, who was famous for leading a life befitting saints. Learning from the hermit Maruge that many people despite their conversion to true faith were skeptic and suspicious about the existence of Noah’s Ark James decided to climb the mountain in order to see the Ark and bring a piece of it. Despite his inflexible will-power he couldn’t reach the peak and after long sufferings he had a short nap. The angel visited him in his dream and put a piece of the Ark under his head. According to the tradition in the place where St. James had lain down appeared a cold stream having healing and miraculous qualities. In the future a church bearing the saint’s name was built nearby the stream. The piece of the Ark is up to date kept in the museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. He is one of the clergymen participating in the Nicene Council in 325. After the death of the Bishop of Nisibis God appeared to Maruge and told him that St. James was the deserving candidate for the Bishop of  Nisibis. St. James passed away in 350, after leading the flock for a long time.

Bishop St. Mielitus was born in Melitene, Armenia Minor. In 358 he was the Bishop of Sebastia. In 360 he ascended the throne of Antioch. He struggled against the Arians. In 381 he presided the Second Ecumenical Council convened in Constantinople but unfortunately passed away before the end of the Council.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Eustratius, Ogsentius, Eugenius, Ovrestes and Mardarius

Despite of their Greek names Eustratius, Ogsentius, Eugenius, Ovrestes and Mardairus are Armenians from the city Sebastia, where they have been subjected to persecutions and martyred during the period of reign of the kings Dioclethianus and Maximianus. Christians were subjected to especially severe torments in the remote districts of the country – in Armenia Minor and Cappadocia.

The military commander of the city Satakh, Armenia Minor, burnt Eustratius on the fire because he had called Lisia, who persecuted Christians, heathen and idolater. Priest Ogsentius, Eugenius – the friend of Eustratius, Mardarius – one of his servants, and a soldier named Ovrestes, who had a cross on his neck, were also subjected to severe torments and were martyred.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Captain St. Kornelius, St. Shmavon, Christ’s Relative, martyred in Jerusalem, and Bishop St. Policarpus of Smyrna and the holy martyrs of the East

St. Kornelius was born in Caesaria. He was the Captain of an Italian regiment and he had believed in Christ and had become a true Christian. Apostle Peter had baptized him and the members of his family. He was called “Second Abraham” for being fair and honest-minded. He preached and worked wonders in Jerusalem. When he was already advanced in years he was subjected to torments and martyred. The sick have visited the saint’s tomb and have been healed.

St. Shmavon was the nephew of Joseph, father of Jesus. After the death of James, brother of Jesus, he became the Bishop of Jerusalem. He was subjected to torments by king Trayanos and was crucified in Jerusalem at the age 120.

The word “Polycarpus” means “fruitful” in Greek. St. Polycarpus was born in 70 AD and was one of the disciples of Evangelist St. John, who ordained him the Bishop of Smyrna in 96 AD. He has struggled against heretics. The emperor of Byzantine imprisoned him and forced him to renounce Christ, but Polycarpus refused to obey the emperor saying, “I have served Christ and I can’t renounce the Savior.” In 166 the executioners put his hands and feet into chains and burnt. One letter from Polycarpus addressed to Phrygians has been preserved which is the first document concerning the martyred Christians.

During the lifetime of Polycarpus twelve Christians from Piratelpa came to Smyrna. They were called eastern martyrs as upon the order of the emperor they were thrown before the beasts.

 
 

Fast St. James of Nisibi

Today starts the fasting period dedicated to Pontiff St. James of Nisibis lasting from Monday to Friday. On Saturday a Divine Liturgy will be celebrated in all churches named in honor of St. James of Nisibis on the occasion of the feast of the saint.

 

Commemoration of St. Abgar, First Martyr of the Church and our first king believing in Christ

According to the tradition St. Abgar was the first Christian king of the 1st century, the son of the Parthian king Arshakunie Arsham. He was also called “senior man” as he was the wisest of all and of genius. Historian Moses of Khoronk, Assyrian historian Labubnia of Yedessia, Greek historians Procopis and Yeusebius have told about the king Abgar. He built the city of Yedessia in the site where the Armenian army protected the ford of the river Euphrates from the Roman captain Casius. Later the king moved the royal palace and all idols from Nisibis to that city.

It is during the period of reign of the king Abgar that Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, was born. And Abgar, who was incurable, becoming aware of the wonders worked by Christ, believed in Christ and by means of his delegates sent a letter-petition to Jerusalem, to the Savior, asking Him to come and heal him. In the response letter it was said, that Christ still had important things to do in Jerusalem, but He should send one of His disciples to the king to heal him. After the Ascension of the Savior Apostle St. Thaddeus came to Yedessia, healed the king Abgar, the sick, preached the Gospel and appointed Adde, the silk-weaver, to be his successor. Jesus had sent his portrait to Abgar and it was kept for a long time in Yedessia, and later in the churches of various cities and towns.

After that the king Abgar sent letters to the king Tiberius and the king Nerseh of Assyria exhorting them to admit Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior. The king Abgar passed away probably in the first half of the 1st century.

 

Commemoration of Bishop St. Genarius, Soldier St. Merkerius

The name “Genarius” is the equivalent of the Latin name “Januarius” and the Italian name “Chenaro”. It is supposed that St. Genarios was born in the beginning of the third century. His parents were rich and well-known persons. He has been the Bishop of the city Benevent of Italy. Genarius was imprisoned during the period of reign of the emperor Dioclethianus and was martyred in 305. The saint’s blood is up to date kept in a special small bottle in the Church of Naples.

St. Merkerius was one of the brave soldiers of the Roman Army. Like his father he believed in true God. Once king Dekos called him and ordered to offer sacrifice in the temple on the occasion of the victory but Merkerius refused to obey the king’s order. The soldiers put his hands into chains and burnt him on the fire. However, the next day they found out that Merkerius was alive and healed and he told that God had saved him. The king ordered to burn his body by means of heated skewers and beheaded him. The saint was martyred in 250 AD.

 

Commemoration of the Apostles St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew, the first preachers of Christianity in Armenia

Apostles St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew were two of the twelve Apostles of Christ, who came to Armenia and preached Christianity in Armenia deserving the title “the first illuminators”. Still at the dawn of Christianity they were martyred in Armenia. It was the result of their preaching and martyrdom that the Armenian people, being the first nation in the world, proclaimed Christianity as the state religion. Indeed, Apostles St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew played an important role in the history of 2000-year-old Christian Armenian nation which has unshaken faith and keen love towards its Mother Church.

Each year a Divine Liturgy is celebrated in the Cathedral of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in the memory of St. Apostles.

 

Commemoration of the Pontiff St. Klemes and Bishop St. Bagrat of Toromena

Pontiff St. Klemes (Clement) is known as the first among the “Apostolic Fathers” by means of whose works we become aware of the traditions, every-day life of the Christians, theology and church history of the first-second centuries AD.

Klemes met the Apostle St. Paul in Rome, thanks whose preaching he was baptized, ordained and became the Bishop of Rome in 92 AD. He is the author of the 85 canons known as “Second Apostolic Canons” or “Canons of Klemes”.

There is very little information about St. Klemes in “Haysmavourk”. He was taken to the King Dioclethianus, and courageously confessed the divine nature of Christ. He was martyred in 98 AD, when stones were put around the saint’s neck and he was thrown into the sea.

Bishop St. Bagrat of Toromena (Taormina) was the illuminator of Silikia. Being the disciple of the Apostle St. Paul and being ordained by the Apostle, he was sent to Silikia. Later he became the Bishop of Toromena. Thanks to his preaching he managed to put an end to idolatry in Toromena. However, once one of the rich citizens of the town, who was a determined heathen swabbed the saint while he was praying. The mayor punished the murderer, and the saint’s remains were buried with all honors in the tabernacle “in order to be intercessor and helper for all of us”.

  Commemoration of Priest St. Lukianos, Sts. Martyrs Taragros, Probos and Andronikos, and Vonesimos, the Disciple of the Apostle St. Paul

Priest St. Lukianos (Lucian) has lived in the last decades of the third century and the first decades of the fourth century. After his parents’ death Lukianos presents all their property to the poor and dedicates himself to the study of the Holy Scriptures. It is supposed that St. Lukianos has edited the presently used New Testament. The saint founds a theological school in Antioch. St. Lukianos is imprisoned during the period of Christians’ persecutions by the King Maximinos Dazh and is exiled to Nikomedia, where remaining for nine years, he is beheaded in 312 AD.

Martyrs Taragros (Trachus), Probos (Probus) and Andronikos (Andronicus) were soldiers and close friends. During the period of Christians’ persecutions by the King Dioklethianos they are imprisoned for believing in Christ and are subjected to torments in the towns Tarson and Anabarza (Anavarz). They are beheaded in the town Anabarza (Cilicia) in 304 AD.

Vonesimos (Onesimus) was a runaway (fugitive) slave, who is caught in Rome and put into the prison. There he is acquainted with the Apostle St. Paul, who baptizes him. The Apostle St. Paul gives Vonesimos a letter, by means of which he is forgiven and receives freedom from his former master. Vonesimos follows the Apostle St. Paul everywhere, and after his death preaches in Spain, Grace and Asia Minor. In his old age he is ordained as the Bishop of Ephesus, and during the period of Christians’ persecutions by Trayanos he is imprisoned, stoned and beheaded.

   

Commemoration of Sts. Juliane and Vasilouhie

In Church calendars there are many virgins named Juliane and Vasilouhie. However, the virgins commemorated according to the Armenian Church Calendar, are from the town Nikomedia.

St. Juliane (Juliana) had made the vow of celibacy since childhood. During the period of Christians’ persecutions by the King Dioklethianos she refuses to marry a young heathen man and because of it is taken to the court. When after many torments and trials the saint is taken to be burnt, the fire goes out. St. Juliane is beheaded at the age of 19, in 304 AD.

St. Vasilouhie (Basilla) was a nine-year-old girl. She is subjected to torments during the period of Christians’ persecutions by the King Dioklethianos. However, she survives all torments and trials and remains unharmed, and the judge, witnessing this, is converted the Christianity. She passes away in 309 AD.

   

Commemoration of Sts. Gregory the Thaumaturge, Pontiff Nikoghayos and Bishop Muron

St. Gregory the Thaumaturge (Wonderworker) was born in the town Neocaesaria of Pontos (Sebastia), in the family of a nobleman, in about 210 AD. Gregory was going to study jurisprudence and rhetoric, but another way was predetermined by God for him and his brother. Gregory and his brother receive education in Athens and then in Palestinian Caesaria. Their teacher was Vorogines who was one of the most prominent Christian scientists of that time. Returning to Neocaesaria, he is ordained as the Bishop of the town. According to the tradition during the period of Gregory’s ordination there were hardly 17 Christians in Neocaesaria, and when he passed away there were only 17 heathens. He has deserved the epithet “Thaumaturge” for the numerous miracles relating to his name and reputation. St. Gregory is also the author of many theological works. He passed away in 270 AD.

Pontiff Nikoghayos (Nicholas the Bishop) was born in the town Batara (presently nearby Antalia), in the province of Likia, in Asia Minor. His rich and pious parents pass away when he was a baby, and he is brought up and educated by his Uncle Bishop Nikoghayos Yerets. The evangelical commandment: “… sell all you have and give the money to the poor…” (The Gospel according to Mathew 19:21) becomes the essence of the life of Nikoghayos. He takes care of the poor, the sick, the prisoners and the orphans. By the will of the people he becomes the Bishop of Smyrna. During the period of Christians’ persecutions he is exiled, but however, continues to preach the Gospel everywhere. After the establishment of peace, he returns to his residence and participates in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 Ad. He has passed away in 326 AD. He is one of the most beloved saints of the Universal Church and is more famous by the name Santa Claus.

Bishop Muron (Myron) was born in about 350 AD. He was a great wonder-worker and was familiar for his mercy and charity. During the period of Christians’ persecutions, When St, Muron was the Bishop of Crete, he impatiently waiting for his martyrdom, supports and encourages everybody, By the will of God he lives up to old age and passes away at the age of 100.

  Presentation of Three-Year-Old St. Mary to the Church

presentartion-st-mary-to-the-templeOne of the feasts dedicated to the Holy Virgin is the presentation of three-year-old Mary (Holy Mother of God) to the temple. All Christian Churches celebrate this feast of November 21.

According to the Holy Tradition of the Church, after Mary’s becoming three-year-old, the parents of the Holy Virgin, Jehoiakim and Anna, fulfilling their promise, bring Mary to the Temple and present her to God. Mary remains in the Church till her engagement. Establishment of the feast is related to the Cathedral, which was built by the King Justinianos in honor of St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God, in the place of the old Jewish temple, on the hill Moria. The cathedral had been consecrated on November 21, 543 AD.

After 638 AD, when the Cathedral, built by the King Justinianos, is converted into a Moslem temple, the celebration of the feast spreads throughout the entire Christian world. The Feast of presentation of St. Mary to the Church has been included in the Armenian Apostolic Church Calendar in the nineteenth century.

 
Eve of the Fast of Advent

This is the beginning of Advent – the period of “Fifty Days” (Hisnak or Yisnak) beginning with the Sunday nearest to the 25th of November and ending with the Saturday next after the Sunday nearest to the 6th of January, the Feast of Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus it covers a period of seven constant days.

 

Feast of All Saints – the old and the new, the known and the unknown

By this feast the Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates the memory of all those saints, whose names are not included in the Church Calendar, but whose names are registered in the sacred book of the Heavenly Kingdom.

Many people have been subjected to severe torments and have been martyred during the wars for the sake of faith. Unfortunately, we do not know their names. So the Church has established this feast in the Church Calendar in order to commemorate their memory. They are persons who shed their blood for the sake of Christ and His Church.

 

Commemoration of the Martyr St. Astvatsatoor

St. Astvatsatoor was martyred during the reign of the Persian King Khosrov. He was a Persian magus, who comes to Armenia together with Denshapouh and, witnessing there the martyrdom of St. Gregory Razhik, believes in Christ and is baptized. He is martyred by the Persians and is buried by the Catholicos Nerses II, in Dvin.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Abraham and Khoren, Kozma and Damianos

St. Abraham and St. Khoren were the disciples of St. Ghevond and his companions. After their teachers’ martyrdom they are exiled to Assyria. As living confessors to the faith they deserve the Christians’ respect. St. Khoren, being unable to suffer the hardships, passes away in exile. St. Abraham returns to Armenia and becomes the Bishop of Bznounik.

St. Kozma and St. Damianos who are called also “moneyless (or penniless or silver less) doctors (physicians)”, were born and lived in the last decades of the third century, in Arabia. They have been brought up and educated by their virtuous and honest mother and upon her advice they have always moved from one place to another and have treated the sick free of charge. During the period of Christians’ persecutions by the King Dioklethianos the brothers are imprisoned, subjected to torments and are beheaded in 285 AD.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Adrianos and his wife – Anatolia, Martyrs Theodoros and Elevturos

St. Adrianos was a high-ranking officer, who served in the Roman Army during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maximianos. Initially he was heathen and subjected Christians to persecutions. However, witnessing the Christians’ courage and patience and thanks to the prayers and efforts of his wife – Anatolia, he finally becomes Christian. For conversion to Christianity he is imprisoned and subjected to most severe torments and is martyred in 310 A. D. Anatolia, who encouraged the prisoners during the persecutions realized against Christians, exhorted them to remain loyal to their faith.  She served the imprisoned Christians so devotedly that received the name “sister of martyrs”. After the death of her husband she leaves for Byzantine and lives there.

St. Theodoros served as a captain in the Roman Army during the reign of the Roman Emperor Likianos. Despite the fact that Likianos had signed with Kostandianos a Charter on liberating Christians, changes his decision and starts persecutions against Christians. Becoming aware that Theodoros is Christian and, moreover, converts other people to Christianity, Likianos orders him to give up his faith and to follow his previous faith. Thodoros prefers to be subjected to torments than to renounce Christ. Upon the king’s order he is severely beaten, bound to the wooden cross with his head downwards and is beheaded in 319 A. D.

St. Elevturos has lived in Galatia during the reign of the King Dekos. One of the citizens of Galatia criticizes the King Koumvria for his cruelty and as the result of criticism is beheaded. Elevturos, who attended the ceremony of beheading, more strictly criticizes the court and is persecuted for that, but miraculously escapes death. Witnessing the miarcle, many heathens become Christian, and among them – the heathen priest Kalinikos, who proclaims himself Christian and is beheaded. Elevturous, enduring many torments, passes away.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Captain Andre and his army, Martyrs Kalinikos and Dometios

The quick spreading of Christianity especially on the territory of the Roman Empire since the 3rd century started to worry the kings. Royal charters were issued ordering the Christians to adopt the heathen religion, otherwise they should be persecuted to death. During that period of persecutions any Christians preferred to die than to Betray Jesus Christ.

The Church always appreciated the torments of the people for the sake of Christ, their courage and strength of their faith. Among such people are the martyrs Eugenios and Makarios, martyred during the reign of the King Julianos the Betrayer. Martyrs Valerios, Canditos and Akyoughas have been martyred during the reign of the Kings Diokletianos and  Maximianos.

Commemorating the martyrs’ memory, the Church teaches the faithful to remain loyal to Christ even under most severe circumstances.

Captian Andre is a Uni-Christian saint, who was martyred for the sake of spreading of Christianity. He was from Cilicia and lived during the period of reign of the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos. As a high-ranking officer he served in the Royal Army of Syria and he was a Christian.

During the war against Persians, when his Army consisting of nearly 600 soldiers was forced to retreat, the brave Captain encouraged the soldiers by the name of Jesus Christ and returning the Army to the field of battle, won the war. Following the victory the whole Army converted to Christianity. General Commander of the entire Army, becoming aware of that fact, sent armed forces and killed all Christian soldiers in the gorge of Turos.

Kalinikos was a Christian from Galatia. Being a seller of vegetable oil, he moved from one place to another and preached the Christian faith. He was imprisoned and forced to renounce Christ; he refused, and being subjected to severe torments, was martyred. Dometios was from a noble Christian family from Tarson. He was the contemporary of the Emperor Dioklethianos. Being a physician, he traveled to various places and healed the needy patients by means of both his medical knowledge and skills and the strength of his faith. Meanwhile he consoled the Christians who were being subjected to torments. However, soon he was imprisoned and was taken to Nicomedia for being subjected to trial. Despite his great desire to be martyred, while being carried for subjecting to torments, on this way he stopped for a minute to pray and passed away.

 

Commemoration of the Apostles Andrew and Phillip

Before becoming Christ’s disciple Apostle Andrew has been the disciple of St. John the Baptist. He was the brother of the Apostle Peter and was a fisherman. After the Ascension of the Lord and the Descend of the Holy Spirit Apostle Andrew has preached in Northern Greece and in Scythe.

Apostle Phillip was from the town Bethsaida. Perhaps he also has been the disciple of St. John the Baptist. He has preached in Asia Minor. Apostle Philip has been martyred and crucified in the town Heliople.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Gurias, Samunas, Deacon Abib, Romanos the Hermit, Child the Confessor and Soldier Husikos

Gurias and Samunas were priests from Yedessia living during the period of reign of the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos (284-305). Gurias and Samunas are imprisoned because of being Christians, they are brought to the judge of Yedessia and are ordered to burn incense before the idols and to worship the picture of the emperor. When they refuse to obey the order they are subjected to severe torments and are thrown into the deep pit. Gurias and Samunas are beheaded at the beginning of the 4th century.

Deacon Abib served in the Church of Yedessia at the beginning of the 4th century. During the period of Christians’ persecutions he went from one village to another and preached the Word of God and encouraged those who were subjected to torments. Emperor Likianos, becoming aware of his activity, orders to imprison him. Becoming aware of his mother’s and relatives’ imprisonments Deacon Abib voluntarily surrenders himself to the authorities. The judge seeing that he is unable to force the Deacon to renounce Christ, ordered to burn him over the fire. The saint first prays and then is burnt in the fire in 312. He is buried in the same tomb where the bodies of Gurias and Samunas martyred during the same period were buried.

During the period of reign of the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos when Christians were persecuted, a clergyman named Romanos, who was imprisoned because of his faith, said the judge: “Even if you ask a child what is right – to worship the only God – the Creator of the sky and the earth, or to many gods, the child will give the right answer”. And really, the judge calls a child and asks that question, and that child answers: “The people’s God should be the only one God. The God we worship has Only Begotten Son, who is one with God.” The annoyed judge immediately orders to kill the innocent child. This event happened in 304.

The soldier Husikos has been subjected to torments during the period of reign of the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos. Husikos has served in the royal army. He was drowned in the water because of his faith in Christ.

 

Commemoration of St. Martyr Demetrios and the Priest St. Basilikos

St. Demetrios (Demetrius) was born in Persia. He has lived during the period of reign of the King Kostandianos the Great. Believing in Christ, he has lived a secluded life in the Monastery on Nisibis, Mesopotamia and then he has moved to the Monastery of Theodosopolis, where he has been ordained as a deacon. Not agreeing with the Archimandrite, who wished to ordain him as a priest and considering himself undeserving of priesthood, Demetrios has gone to live in a cave near the river Euphrates. 

When the King Julianos the Betrayer and his army go to fight against the Persians and pass by the cave where the saint lived and where many people had gathered waiting to be healed, the king orders to block the entrance to the cave with large stones. The saint and his two disciples are martyred in the cave. Later the martyrs’ relics are brought out of the cave and buried.

Priest Basilikos (Basil) has been martyred in 362 AD, by the order of the King Julianos the Betrayer. Basilikos blames the King for renouncing Christ. The king orders to cut daily seven pieces from the martyr’s skin. After lasting severe treatments the saint’s body is swabbed by heated metal sticks.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Pontiff Melitos of Antioch, Minas of Egypt and the other Bishop Melitos, Priest Bouras and Deacon Shinou

The Pontiff Melitos (Meletius, Bishop of Antioch) was born in the town Melitene of Pokr Hayk (Armenia Minor). In 358 AD he becomes the Bishop of the town Sebastia of Pokr Hayk (Armenia Minor) and in 360 AD he is elected the spiritual leader of the Antioch. Being righteous, gentle, honest and sincere in worshiping the God, Bishop Melitos avoided the theological disputes typical to that time period. And the people expected that he would manage to establish peace in Antioch split and disunited because of religious disputes. And indeed, he succeeds to satisfy the population of that turbulent town Staying aside from discussing theological controversial issues, he delivers sermons, tries to realize some gradual reformations.

However, during the Council of Antioch, organized by the Arian King Kostandianos and the purpose of which was to reveal the doctrinal convictions of Melitos, the fact of his being orthodox is revealed. By the instigation of the Arians Melitos is exiled for three times.

Bishop Melitos is the author of the theological work “Exposition of faith”. The saint has participated in the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople and has presided the Council. Unfortunately he has passed away before the conclusion of the Council, in 381 AD.

Minas (Menas the Egyptian) was an officer from Egypt, who served in the Roman Army. Seeing the dirty tricks, injustice and malice existing in the surrounding world, Minas decides to devote himself to ascetic life, and goes to the mountains in Phrygia. During one of the heathen feasts he comes to the people and condemns the heathen idols and preaches the Christian faith. For that deed Minas is subjected to torments and is beheaded in 304 AD. The place of martyrdom of Minas is considered to be a sacred place and his image – always depicted sitting on the camel, becomes very popular especially in the Middle Ages.

Melitos (Meletius, Bishop of Persia) was a Persian Christian officer serving in the Persian Army. Giving up military service he devotes himself to spiritual life and is ordained as the Bishop of the town Bitrazan. Despite the repeated persecutions by the heathens he continues to preach the Gospel and reaches even to the capital city of Persia – Tizbon. Refusing to worship the sun Melitos is martyred in Tizbon during the reign of the Persian King Shapouh (331-378). Two of his disciples – Priest Bouras (Buras) and Deacon Shinou (Sennen) are martyred together with Melitos.

 

Commemoration of Archangels Gabriel and Michael and the Entire Heavenly Class

According to the Angelology of the Armenian Church the angels are unfleshly, spiritual, independent, always moving, asexual, immortal creatures and God’s servants. According to Church Fathers, the angels, as luminous creatures, have been created the first day of Creation, together with the light. By the God’s order they are servants, they have been created to serve the human being. Therefore, they are servants who despite their being dyophysite, participate in the earthly life, act together with the human being living in time and space, they act for the human being. The angels are called the messengers and agents of God, who realize God’s will. According to Dionysius of Areopagus (Areopagite), there are nine orders of angels – Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Throne, Cherubim and Seraphim.

 Archangel Gabriel, whose name means “God’s man”, is God’s direct servant, who is granted the grace to evangelize the Lord’s mysteries. It was Archangel Gabriel, who was sent by the Lord to bring the good news to the Virgin about the birth of the Savior, and to Zechariah – to bring the good news about the birth of John the Baptist.

Archangel Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?”, is the advocate for the Heavenly King’s glory and His people’s protection, who is granted the virtue to govern and rule. The name of Archangel Michael is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures for four times (The Book of Daniel,10:13, 12:1, The Letter from Jude 1:9, The Revelation to John 11:7).

 

Commemoration of Sts. Pontiffs Metropanos, Alexandros and Paul the Confessor, and the Scribes Markianos and Martyron

The Pontiff Metropanos (Metrophanes) was the junior son of the King Probios. He has been ordained by the Bishop Titos of Byzantine and has succeeded him in his office. Bishop Metropanos was known for his deep faith and good reputation, who was able to influence even King Kostandianos the Great to decide that the site of the new capital city to be built should be in the place of Byzantine. He was appointed by the same king to be the first Bishop of Constantinople. Because of his old age the Pontiff Metropanos has not participated in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in 325, sending instead of him Alexander, who later succeeded him. He passed away in 236 AD.

The Pontiff Alexandros (Alexander) has succeeded the Pontiff Metropanos. According to the tradition he has been ordained by the Pontiffs participating in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, when they had arrived to Nicaea to attend the previous Pontiff’s burial ceremony. St. Alexandros has participated in the First Ecumenical Council of Christ’s Church. He has been a generous, eloquently speaking, fair and pious pontiff, who has always struggled against the Arianism and the heathen philosophers. According to the Church tradition it is thanks to his prayers and the prayers of the Pontiff St. James of Nisibis that Arius has died. The Pontiff Alexandros has passed away in 326 AD. (According to some sources – in 327 AD.)

The Pontiff St. Paul the Confessor was born in Selanik. He was a pious man and very well knowing the Holy Bible. He has succeeded the Pontiff Alexander of Constantinople. For his strict attitude against Arians St. Paul has been exiled by the King Kostantdianos to Pontos. He returns to Constantinople in 338 AD. But it was fated that the Pontiff should be exiled for three more times. For the last time the Pontiff Paul has been exiled to the town Kokison (Armenia), where he has been martyred by the Arians, who strangled him during the Divine Liturgy in 350 AD.

Markianos (Marcian) and Martiron (Martyrius) were senior scribes, who served in the Patriarchate of Constantinople and assisted the Pontiff Paul the Confessor who was the Patriarch during that period. When they become aware of the Pontiff’s being strangled, they spread among the people the fact that the reason for the Pontiff Paul’s death are the Arians. For making them to keep silent the Arian Eparkos living in Constantinople orders to behead the scribes in about 350 AD.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Bishop Akipsimos, Priest Hovsep (Joseph), Deacon Ayitala and Martyr Platon

Bishop Akipsimos (Aquiphsimeus), Priest Hovsep (Joseph) and Deacon Ayitala (Ayethalus) have been martyred in the fourth century. Akipsimos was Persian. Together with the Priest Hovsep (Joseph) and the Deacon Ayitala he has been imprisoned during the persecutions against Christians realized by the King Shapouh II. Bishop Akipsimos, Priest Hovsep (Joseph) and Deacon Ayitala are taken to the town Arbela to stand trial by the heathen supreme priest of sun – Ardakh. However, they refuse to worship the sun and the fire. They are thrown into a deep and dark dungeon, where they remain for three years. Later the saints are sent to Media to stand trial by the King Shapouh II, where they are martyred. According to the hagiographers St. Akipsimos is beheaded, Priest Hovsep (Joseph) and Deacon Ayitala are stoned.

St. Platon (Plato the Martyr) was born in Ankuria, in the family of a Christian pious priest. Since childhood he was brought up and educated in Christian spirit. After his parents’ death Platon sells all his property and distributes the sum to the poor and the needy and dedicates himself to converting the heathens to Christianity and spreading of the Word of God. Because of being Christian he is imprisoned and subjected to severe torments. The judge does not manage to force Platon to renounce Christianity and to offer sacrifice to the idols, therefore he orders to behead the saint. St. Platon has been martyred in the first quarter of the fourth century.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Pontiff of Rome St. Stepannos, the Priests, the Deacons and the people

st-stepannos-stephen-pontiff-of-romeThe Pontiff of Rome St. Stepannos (Stephen) was born in Rome. He was the Bishop of Rome since 254 AD. He has been the deacon of the martyred Pope of Rome Lukianos and after the Popes’ death has been his successor. According to the Armenian collection book “Haysmavourk”, St. Stepannos has been a courageous and zealous Pontiff leading his flock, encouraging the faithful during the persecutions and exhorting them to remain loyal to their faith. He has converted many heathens to Christianity, and among the converted were the Prince Nemesios and his blind daughter. After the latters’ baptism the daughter of the Prince Nemesios becomes able to see, and the prince, witnessing that miracle, asks the Pontiff to ordain him as a deacon. Becoming aware of that fact, the King calls the Prince to him and orders him to offer sacrifice to the idols. But the Prince refuses, and for the refusal he is martyred together with his daughter. Another Prince and his servants, who also were pious Christians, are martyred. According to “Haysmavourk”, 12 clergymen are subjected to torments and are martyred, and the memory of those blessed clergy is commemorated with the memory of the Pontiff St. Stepannos.

Once, when the pontiff St. Stepannos was celebrating a Divine Liturgy, the soldiers surround the Church and wish to break the door. At that time the Pontiff was giving Holy Communion to the faithful in attendance. After his taking the Holy Communion the soldiers rush in and kill the Pontiff in 257 AD.

 

Commemoration of the Pontiff St. John the Chrysostom

st-john-the-chrysostomThe Pontiff St. John the Chrysostom is one of the most prominent and gracious Fathers of the Universal Church. He was born in Antioch, in 347 AD. He has studied in the Theological School of Antioch and has advanced his skills in rhetoric art in the School of Libanios. Since the young age he has led an ascetic life. In 381 AD he has been ordained as deacon by Meletios of Antioch and in 386 he has been ordained as priest by Flavianos. Thanks to his brilliant and eloquent speeches and sermons he has deserved the title “Chrysostom”.

In 398 AD he is elected the Patriarch of Constantinople against his will and zealously initiates renovation and reconstruction works of the capital city, which was far from the Christian mode of life and lived immoral life full of conflicts and disputes. Amorality and religious indifference were dominant among the people, the court and the clergy. St. John the Chrysostom condemns and criticizes all forms and manifestations of amorality and for criticism he raises the Queen Eudoxia’s anger. The Patriarch Theophilos of Alexandria also, who wished to become the Patriarch of Constantinople, also stands against St. John the Chrysostom. Basing on groundless slander and calumny by the ecclesiastical council held in 403 AD., an order is issued to exile the saint. However, during the night of exile such terrible earthquake and fires happen that the Queen calls the Patriarch back to his residence. St. John the Chrysostom continues to criticize the wrong and immoral mode of life of the court. Ignoring the people’s sympathy towards the Patriarch and the protection of the Western Church, the King Arkadios and the Queen Eudoxia again issue an order to exile the saint.  The saint is exiled to Pontos and is martyred in the town Komana. His last words are: “Glory to You, God, glory to You, glory to You to for everything.” The saint’s remains are buried in the Church of St. Apostles, of Constantinople, in 438 AD.

St. John the Chrysostom is the author of many interpretations, speeches, odes, epistles and letters, which have positively influenced on the history of the Christian mind. His works have been translated into Armenian still during his life.

  Commemoration of Sts. Severianos (Severianus) of Sebastia and the old man Babelas

st-severianos-severianus-of-sebastia(Babylas) St. Severianos (Severianus) of Sebastia was a famous captain serving in the royal army of the town Samosat of Pokr Haik (Armenia Minor), during the reign of the King Likianos. When forty soldiers of the regiment called “Armenian Legion” are imprisoned, St. Severianos visits them and takes care of them. Even after their death he continues to defend and protect the Christians and to criticize the authorities for their persecutions against Christians. For such behavior Severianos is taken to the court, subjected to severe torments and is martyred.

The old man Babelas (Babylas) was a teacher from Nikomedia, living during the reign of the King Maximinos, He taught the Holy bible to the children. The heathens inform the King that he teaches the Holy Bible to the children and educates them in Christian spirit. In response to the King’s question: “Why do teach the children foreign faith and not our faith?” the old man answers: “Because the Christian faith is the true faith”. Upon the King’s order Babelas is imprisoned and subjected to torments. The King’s servants try to persuade the children to worship the idols, but in response the listen: “We will never worship the stone idols:” After that the teacher and his eighty-four disciples are beheaded.

  Commemoration of Sts. Hipirikians, Martyred in Samosat

Sts. Hipirikians (Huperichians) were seven martyrs from the town Samosat(a) of Pokr Haik (Armenia Minor), during the reign of the King Maximinos, in the 3rd-4th centuries AD. During the festive celebrity held in honor of heathen idols they were praying in their house. Their five heathen friends visit them and ask the reason for not participating in the festivity. Listing to St. Hipirikians’ sermon concerning the fact that Christianity is a true religion, they become followers of Christ. All of them are taken to the court, but they remain loyal to their faith – Christianity and are martyred.

  Commemoration of the Priest St. Anastas, Sts. Varos, Theoditeh and her Sons

st-priest-anastas-anastasiusPriest Anastas (Anastasius) has been martyred during the reign of the Persian King Khosrov II. Anastas was of Persian nationality, born in the town Razhik, his baptismal name was Makoundat. When in 614 AD the Persians take Jerusalem and captivate the Lord’s Holy Cross, Anastas, being a soldier of the Persian Army, witnesses the miracles happening thanks to the Lord’s Cross and is converted to Christianity, Then he goes to Jerusalem, is baptized by the Patriarch Modest and is renamed Anastas. Afterwards Anastas enters the Monastery of St. Saba to serve. With the mission of preaching Anastas goes to Palestinian Caesaria, which then was under the Persian rule, Anastas meets heathen magicians and trying to convert them to Christianity, is imprisoned. The Persian King Khosrov promises to discharge Anastas if he formally renounces Christ in the presence of at least one man, but in response he listens the decisive words of the saint: “I will never renounce my Savior, be it before anybody, obviously or secretly, in words or in mind or even in sleep.” He is taken to Persia, subjected to torments and is beheaded with 70 other Christians in 628 AD. During the reign of the King Herakles (610-641 AD) his remains are transferred to Constantinople and Rome.

st-varos-varusVaros (Varus) was a Roman soldier serving in Egypt during the reign of the King Maximinos. When seven hermits are imprisoned and one of them passes away at night, Varos takes the place of the dead man wishing to become a martyr, too For that act the judge, getting angry, subjects Varos to severe torments and kills him.

st-theoditeh-theodotaTheoditeh (Theodota) and her sons have been martyred during the reign of the King Dioklethianos in about 304 AD. Theoditeh was a pious widow living in Macedonia together with her three sons, who were educated and brought up in Christian spirit. A heathen nobleman falls in love with Theoditeh and makes a proposal, but Theoditeh rejects the proposal. For that act Theoditeh’s sons are subjected to torments in the presence of their mother, but they courageously endure the pain and do not renounce their faith. Finally all of them are thrown into the fire and burnt.

 
Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross

unnamedcThe Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross is one of the four feasts dedicated to Christ’s Holy Christ.

In 327 AD Heghineh, the Mother of the Byzantine King Kostandianos, visits Jerusalem with the aim to search the holy Cross of the lord. A Jew, named Judas, helps the King’s mother to search the site where Christ was crucified – Golgotha. In the result of searches the wooden crosses of Christ and the two criminals crucified together with him are found. For recognizing the Lord’s Cross, the remains of a young man are put on the crosses in turn. On one of the crosses the young man rises to life and thus the Lord’s Cross is identified. After that miracle the Jew converts to Christianity and later becomes the Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem. After the discovery of the Holy Cross Heghineh renovates the Holy Places of Jerusalem and builds the Church of Holy Resurrection of Golgotha, where later the Lord’s cross is installed.

The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross on the Sunday during the period October 23-29.

 

Commemoration of the Twelve Archimandrites – Sts. Retheos, Dionisios, Selbestros, Athanas, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephrem Khourie Assyrian, Vasil (Barsegh) of Caesaria, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theoloegian, Epiphan of Cyprus, John Chrysostom and Cyril

Commemortaion of the Twelve Archimandrites – Sts. Retheos, Dionisios, Selbestros, Athanas, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephrem Khourie Assyrian, Vasil (Barsegh) of Caesaria, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theoloegian, Epiphan of Cyprus, John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria 

Those Archimandrites (Holy Doctors) or Church Fathers (Hierotheus of Athens, Dionysius of Areopagite, Silverst of Rome, Athanasius of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephraem the Syrian, Barsegh (Vasil) of Caesaria, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theologian, Epiphanius of Cyprus, John Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria) have been famous for leading a pious and devote life and are considered to be the Fathers of the Universal Church, respectable interpreters of the Holy Bible and orthodox maintainers of the Christian Faith.

The main goal of the twelve Church Fathers’ activity was maintenance and passing to the coming generations the orthodox faith Heresies and sects and their followers have existed since the existence of Christianity. They have falsely comprehended and interpreted the Word of God, have set forth and developed false and misleading teachings related to the fundamental principles of Christianity. In contrast to them, the twelve Church Fathers, comprehending the divine revelation in the whole, have provided the true interpretation of the doctrinal key points and principles and have developed ecclesiastical theology. The role of the twelve Church Fathers is at present especially important for our society, where various false interpreters of the Holy Bible have intruded.

 

Commemoration of St. Aret and His Companions, Holy Martyrs Artemeos, Sts. Christopher and the Two Women – Kalinike and Akyouline

St. Aret and his companions (Sts. Kharityans) had Habesh nationality and lived in the town Nehran of Ethiopia. In the sixth century BC the Jews had become very powerful in Ethiopia.  The King of the town Eudemona, Du Novas attacks the town Nehran with the purpose of converting the population to Judaism. Occupying the city by means of fraud, he orders to burn the clergy, the monks and the nuns over the fire and to put the governor of the city – Aret and the rich and influential citizens into prison. During the interrogation Du Novas demands them to renounce Christ. However, the citizens and their 95-year-old governor refuse saying, “We won’t renounce Christ, as He is life for us, and death for the sake of Christ is gain,” and are subjected to torments.

After a few years the Christian king Yelesbovam wins Du Novas and proclaims Christianity as the state religion of Ethiopia.

During the period of reign of the king Julianus the Betrayer Artemeos served in the royal army since childhood and was elevated to the degree of legate. He continued to serve as the general commander of the army of Egypt also during the period of reign of the next king. Later, when Julianus the Betrayer judged the two priests – Yevgenius and Macarius, Artemeos dared to blame the king openly for cruelty for he was subjected to torments and is beheaded.

Christopher and the two Women – Kalinike and Akyouline lived in Lycia still in the period of reign of the king Dekos. During the period of reign of the king Julianus Christopher had been taken prisoner and had served in the Roman Army and had turned to the Christian faith. Seeing the torments of the other Christians he wished to reproach the heathens and to preach the truth, but was unable to do that as he didn’t know Greek. However, he prayed God, and God granted him the grace of speaking in Greek. Once seeing that the soldiers subjected a Christian to torments, reproached them and set the Christian free. The judge of the city, becoming aware of that fact, sent 200 soldiers to arrest him, but the soldiers, influenced by the preaching of Christopher and the miracle worked by him, were also converted to Christianity. Christopher was brought to the judge and reproached him refusing to obey the judge’s order to turn to the heathen faith – Kalinike and Akyouline en faith and was subjected to torments and was imprisoned. Afterwards two prostitutes were sent to Christopher to lead him into temptation, but influenced by the preaching of Christopher they are converted to Christianity. The king, getting angry, ordered to kill first Kalinike and Akyouline and then the soldiers, who announced their being Christian, and then he ordered to behead Christopher.

 

Feast of the Priest St. Theoditon, Sts. Soldiers Zenon, Makar, Eudoxios and Ramelas

Priest St. Theoditon (Theodoret) was the head of the Church of Antioch. He has lived during the reign of the King Julianos the Betrayer. The King’s nephew – Count Julianos, who was the Governor of the Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire, orders to exile all clergymen with the aim to more easily seize the treasures belonging to the churches. Priest St. Theoditon refuses to leave the church or handle in the church property and continues his daily divine services and preaching. The Count first imprisons him, then subjects him to torments and beheads him in 303 AD. Before being martyred St. Theoditon makes some prophecies, which come true. Count Julianos dies as the result of an unknown disease, and the King Julianos the Betrayer dies being wounded during the war against Persians.

Soldiers Zenon, Makar (Marcarius) and Eudoxios (Eudoxius) have been subjected to torments and martyred during the reign of the King Maximianos, in 311-312 AD, in the town Melitene of the Pokr Hayk (Armenia Minor). During the period of persecutions Eudoxios, who was a captain serving in the royal army, hides together with his wife – Vasilouhie and his companion soldiers – Zenon and Makar. Then he gives himself up to the soldiers and is beheaded together with Zenon. Makar follows them and is martyred, too.

Ramelas (Romulus) has been martyred during the reign of the King Trayanos. During the campaign to the East the King finds out that there are 11000 Christians serving in the Army. He exiles them to the town Melitene of the Pokr Hayk (Armenia Minor). The Captain Ramelas condemns the King for his atheism and announces his being Christian. Because of being Christian he is beheaded.

 
 

Feast of Sts. Captain Lukianos, who believed in Christ’s Crucifixion, Joseph – the Godfather, Joseph of Arimathea, and Friends of Christ – Lazarus and his two sisters – Martha and Mary

According to the tradition the Captain Lukianos (Longinus the Centurion) has witnessed the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the wonders occurring after the Lord’s death. He has been a Roman soldier from Cappadocia. During the Lord’s he believes in Christ’s doctrine and is converted to Christaianity. Witnessing the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, he refuses to bear false testimony and tell that the Lord’s disciples have stolen His Body. He has been beheaded by Pilate.

Joseph, the Godfather, is the descendant of David. He is the earthly father of Jesus Christ and the husband of St. Mary. Evangelist St. Mathew characterizes him as “a man who always did what was right”. (See the Gospel according to Matthew 1:19). When Joseph finds out that Mary, to whom he was engaged, is going to have a baby, he makes plans to break the engagement privately. While he is thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take Mary to be his wife and that the baby is by the Holy Spirit. The angel also tells Joseph to name the baby Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. Understanding the importance of the mission entrusted to him by God, Joseph defends Mary and takes care of her. When Jesus is born and the time comes, Joseph performs the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded, and takes the forty-day-old child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. And when a threat to the life of baby Jesus arises, Joseph takes the child and his mother and escapes to Egypt, and after a while he again returns with them to Nazareth. St Joseph is distinguished by his unshaken faith in God. He has always tried to fulfill the divine commandments.

St. Joseph of Arimathea was one of the secret disciples of Jesus Christ. He was a rich, honest, pious and fair man waiting for the Kingdom of God. Becoming aware of the Lord’s Death on the Cross, he dares and goes to Pilate and asks for the body of Christ for burying. It is supposed that his tomb is near the tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, in a small chapel, belonging to the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Lazarus, Martha and Mary have lived in the period of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ in the village Bethany not far from Jerusalem. Christ had special feeling of love towards them and when visiting to Jerusalem has stopped at their house. Christ rose Lazarus to life thus making the sisters happy. Martha was the elder sister, active and hardworking, and Mary, the junior sister, was very pious woman. After the resurrection of Lazarus Mary pours the perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. According to the tradition they go to Cyprus and live there till their death.

 
Feast of the Evangelists Sts. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John

evangelists-sts-mathewEvangelist St. Mathew is one of the twenty apostles of the Lord. He is the author of the first Gospel. The name of Matthew is the Greek version of the Hebrew name meaning God-given. His Hebrew name has been Levi. In the past he has been a tax

collector in Capernaum. Then obeying to God’s will he has sold his property, distributed the money to the poor and has become on the followers of Jesus Christ. He has preached the Word of God in Parthia and Palestine.

evangelists-st-markEvangelist St. Mark was the nephew of Barnabas. He was born in Jerusalem. He was named also John. It was the house of his mother – Mary that was the place of prayer for the apostles. It is supposed that it was the place where Our Lord Jesus Christ had the Last Supper and where the Church was founded during the Pentecost. He has been the interpreter of St Peter, as well as the friend of St. Paul and Barnabas. He is the author of the shortest Gospel. He has preached the Word of God in Egypt, where he has been martyred he is the founder of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

evangelists-sts-lukeEvangelist St. Luke is the author of the third Gospel. He was born in Antioch. According to the tradition he is one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus Christ. According to St. Paul he has been a physician. Listening about the Lord’s Preaching, Luke goes to Palestine and follows the Lord. He has preached the Word of God in Achaia, Libya, Egypt and Teba. He has written “The Acts of the Apostles” upon the request of Theophilos of Rome. According to the tradition he has been martyred in Teba.

From 1268 Gospel, Matenadaran, File No. 10675. Vol. iv, pp. 208-209

From 1268 Gospel, Matenadaran, File No. 10675. Vol. iv, pp. 208-209

Evangelist St. John is the author of the fourth Gospel, three letters and the Revelation. He deserved the title of the “beloved disciple” of Christ. He was the son of the fisherman Zebedee and the brother of James. He is considered to be one of the two disciples of St. John the Baptist who followed Jesus (See Jn 1:37). Afterwards the Lord called him to Galilee and gave him the authority of apostle. John became one of the closest Disciples of Christ. Together with James and Peter he witnessed the “transfiguration” that came over Jesus while He was praying on a high mountain named Tabor, went to the valley of Gethsemane. Together with St. Mary, Holy Godmother, he stood near the cross and at the moment of crucifixion Jesus asked him to take care of the Holy Mother of God. Together with Peter he was the first who went to the tomb of Christ and later met Him near the Sea of Genneseret (or Sea of Galilee or Lake Kinneret or Lake Tiberias). Later we see him during the persecutions of Christians in Jerusalem and his success in preaching in Samaria. After the descent of the Holy Spirit John went to Asia Minor and settled down in Ephesus where he took care of the churches founded by Paul and wrote down the Gospel there. Roman Emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus (Domitian) exiled him to Patmos where he was given (and recorded) a vision from Jesus. In Patmos or Ephesus he wrote also his letters addressed to the faithful flock.

During the period of reign of Roman Emperor Nero he returned to Ephesus where he passed away in 100 AD, in Ephesus, at the age of 95.

 

Commemoration of St. Dionysius of Areopagus, the Apostles Timothy and Titus

st-_dionysios_the_areopagiteAccording to the tradition Dionysius of Areopagus (Areopagite) is the disciple of the Apostle Peter. He is the first Bishop of the newly founded Church of Athens. He has converted to Christianity after listening to the sermon of the Apostle Peter He has witnessed the Assumption of St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God. He has preached the Word of God in Rome, Germany, Spain, Galia (France). He is considered to be the author of many theological works.

apostle-timothyTimothy is one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus Christ. He was born in the town Lystra. He has been one of the close disciples of the Apostle Peter, whom St. Peter in his Epistles calls “beloved son”. He has received Christian education thanks to his mother and grandmother. His father was heathen. After witnessing the healing of a lame from birth by the Apostle Peter Timothy believes in Jesus Christ and becomes the Apostle’s disciple. He is ordained as Bishop by the Apostle Peter to serve in Ephesus and heads the Church for 15 years. Two epistles of St. Peter are addressed to Timothy. He has been stoned during the feast dedicated to the heathen godess Diana, while trying to keep the heathens away from demonic amusements and to preach the Word of God. He has been martyred in 96-98 AD, in Ephesus.

apostle-titusTitus also is one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus Christ. He was born in Crete, in a heathen family. Since youth he has studied the Greek philosophers trying to find out the truth. He has studied Hebrew for reading the books of the Old Testament. Listening to Christ and believing him Titus has become the disciple of Christ and has been the supporter of the Apostle Paul, who has ordained him as the Bishop of Crete. One of the epistles of St. Paul is addressed to Titus. He has been the defender and advocate of Apostle Paul and has preached the Word of God and has worked wonders.

 

 
Commemoration of the Apostles Anania, Matthias, Barnabas, Philip, John and Silas

apostle-ananiaAnania is one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus Christ. He is the Bishop of Damascus By God’s will he has baptized Saul and the future Apostle Paul. He has preached the Word of God among the Jews and the heathens. He has been persecuted and stoned for refusing to offer sacrifice to the idols.

apostle-matthiasMatthias was one of those disciples who followed Christ since the baptism of Christ by St John the Baptist till the Ascension of Christ. Apostle Matthias was chosen instead of Judas Iscariot and was added to the group of eleven apostles. (See Ac 1:21-23). apoetle-barnabasBarnabas also is one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus Christ. He was born in Cyprus. His initial name was Joseph, but later he received the name “Barnabas” meaning “Son of Consolation”. Believing to Christ’s teaching, he has sold his property and has given the money to the apostles. He has been the friend of the apostle Paul. He has been stoned by the Jews and martyred in the town Salamis.

apostle-philipPhilip also is one of the twenty apostles of the Lord. He was born in Bethsaida. It is supposed that he has been the disciple of St. John the Baptist. He has preached the Word of God in Greece, Syria, Phrygia, where he has healed the sick and worked wonders. According to the tradition he has been martyred in the town Herapolis. apostle-johnJohn or the beloved apostle of the Lord is one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He is the author of the last Gospel. Initially he has been the disciple of St. John the Baptist. After the Assumption of St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God, he goes to Ephesus to preach the Word of God in the Churches of Asia Minor. During the reign of the King Dometianos he has been subjected to torments and has been exiled to the Island Pathmos, where he has written “Revelation” – the last book of the New Testament. He is the only apostle that has not been martyred and died a natural death.

Silas has been one of the friends of the Apostle Paul. He has imprisoned together with the Apostle Paul. However, being discharged from the prison, he has continued preaching of he Word of God. There is no reliable information concerning his death.

 
 

Feast of Discovery of Relics of Catholicos St. Grigoris of Aghvank, Commemoration of St. Fathers Tatoul, Varos, Toumas, Anton, Kronides and the Seven Herbivorous Hermits Martyred in the Innaknya Monastery

Pontiff St Grigoris was the elder son of the Catholicos Vrtanes. According to historian Pavstos Buzand, St. Grigoris was the Catholicos of the provinces Aghvank (Alans) and Virk. He has reconstructed and renovated all Churches and preached the Word of God to the people. He has preached Chris’s doctrine also in the mazkuts’ country. However mazkuts’ mode of life strongly varied from the Christian mode of life. That is why the mazkuts tie the saint to the tail of the horse and let out the horse to the Vaten field on the Caspian seashore, where the saint is martyred. According to the tradition Pontiff St Grigoris is buried in the Church of St. Grigoris in the village Amaras, of Artsakh. The relics of St. Grigoris have been discovered in 489 AD, during the reign of the Armenian King Vachagaan.

St. Tatoul and St. Varos (Barrus) were brothers. They were the disciples of St. Mesrob and St. Sahak. After the battle of Avarayr they go the mountains and live separately in the place called Vishapadzor. The hunters find out where Tatoul was living and he becomes very popular. People from everywhere come to the saint, ask for advice, listen to his words of consolation and, filled with peace, return to their places. Many people come and rally around the brothers and found a brotherhood. The brotherhood is named after their spiritual leader and is called the Brotherhood of St. Tatoul. One of the members of the brotherhood was Toumas (Thomas), whom St. Tatoul appoints as his successor and after that he is secluded. He passes away in very old age. St. Varos is leads ascetic life in the cave called Ditsmayr. In the future a monastery is built in that place in commemoration of his relics’ discovery.

St. Anton (Anthony) and St. Kronides (Chronides) were Greeks born in Caesaria. St. Gregory the Illuminator brings them to Armenia. In the Armenian reality they are the founders of monastic life. When St. Gregory the Illuminator destroys the idol of Gissaneh on the Innaknya hill, he builds the Church of St. Karapet in the same place. The two brothers start living in that Church. After leading ascetic life for forty years the brothers pass away in the second quarter of the fourth century.

The seven herbivorous (Vegetarian) hermits were the hermits who came to the Church of Glak or St. Karapet, of Taron in 584 AD, and settled to live on the hill called Promised, near the Innaknya monastery. And as they ate only plants, they were called herbivorous hermits. Their names were Policarpos, Theovnas, Simeon, Hovhannes, Epiphan, Dimarios and Narkesos.

The Persian King Khosrov declares war against Greeks and sends a part of his army to Taron region for robbery. Foreseeing the enemy’s upcoming attack, the monks hide the treasures in safe places in order to save them from the enemy. Then they leave the monastery. Only the seven herbivorous hermits don’t agree to leave the monastery. The Persian army attacks the monastery and the soldiers, not finding the treasures and disappointed, behead the hermits in 604 AD. Three days later some of the monks return and bury the martyrs’ remains near the tombs of St. Anton and St, Kronides.

 

Feast of the Holy Translators – Sts. Mesrob, Yeghishe, Moses of Khoronk, philosopher Davit Anhaght, Gregory of Narek and Nerses the Gracious (Nerses of Kla)

%d5%bd%d5%a2-%d5%a9%d5%a1%d6%80%d5%a3%d5%b4%d5%a1%d5%b6%d5%b9%d5%a1%d6%81For the Armenian people the Feast of the Holy Translators is one of the most favorite and beloved national-ecclesiastical feasts. Nearly two hundred disciples of St. Mesrob Mashtots and St. Sahak are known by the general group name “Holy Translators”. The disciples of the above mentioned group of Holy Translators are known as “Junior Translators”. Celebrating this feast, the Armenian Apostolic Church pays tribute of respect to the bright memory of St. Mesrob Mashtots, Yeghishe, Moses of Khoronk, philosoppher Davit Anhaght, whose sacred work and mission later has been continued on by St. Gregory of Narek and St. Nerses the Gracious. The word “Translator” means “Interpreter”. Comprehending and precisely understanding the demands of that period, the Holy Translators initiated the sacred work of creating the Armenian alphabet and literature. By the strength of their faith they dispersed the darkness and warmed the human souls. Thanks to the Holy Translators the Holy Bible was translated into Armenian and the Armenian peoples obtained the possibility to read the Holy Book in the native language. By means of their activity the Holy Translators contributed to the spiritual-cultural awakening of Armenia. After the translation of the Holy Bible, many books of Church Father were translated into Armenian, and thanks to this fact many translations, the original copies of which haven’t been preserved, presently exist only in the translated variant and thus the translations have obtained the value of the original.

Commemoration of Sts. Pandaleon the Physician, Yermoghayos the Priest and the Virgin Eupraxia

st-pandaleon-pantaleonSt. Pandaleon (Pantaleon) the Physician and St. Yermoghayos (Hermolaus) the Priest are from Nikomedia. They have lived during the reign of the King Maximianos. After the death of his Christian mother Pandaleon is brought up and educated by his heathen father. He devotes himself to medical practice and deserves the king’s positive attitude. By the will of God he meets the priest Yermoghayos and thanks to the priest is converted to Christianity. Priest Yermoghayos baptizes Pandaleon and he starts to struggle against sin, poverty and diseases. In 303 AD persecutions against Christians start. Physicians envying Pandaleon slander him before the king. Pandaleon is subjected to torments, but is miraculously saved. The king becomes aware that Pandaleon has converted to Christianity thanks to the priest Yermoghayos, and orders to behead first the priest mad then – Pandaleon.

st-eupraxia-1Virgin St. Eupraxia (381-411) was born in a rich and pious family in Constantinople. When Eupraxia’s father passes away, together with his mother Eupraxia moves to Egypt. In Egypt Eupraxia and her mother often visit. the convents of Tebayid. Being impressed by the atmosphere of the convents and being supported by her mother, Eupraxia makes up a decision to take the veil. Soon after that the king invites her to the capital city with the goal to marry her a young nobleman. But Eupraxia asks the king to exempt her from earthly marriage. The king agrees and sets her free to continue on her monastic life. Leading ascetic life and always praying, virgin St. Eupraxia becomes known for the God-granted virtue to work wonders. She dies at the age of thirty and is buried in the monastery, nearby her mother.
 

Commemoration of the Virgins St. Tekegh, St Varvara and St. Peghigea

st-tekegh-theclaVirgin St. Tekegh (Thecla) (first century AD) was born in Ikonia. She has been called “equal to the apostles’ for converting many people to Christianity. Listening to the sermon of St. Paul, at the age of 18 Tekegh is converted to Christianity and makes up a decision not to marry and to devote her life to the preaching the Word of Christ. Tekegh’s mother, being annoyed by her daughter’s decision, beats her and tries to burn the virgin. However, the heavy rain makes the fire impossible. Tekegh lives for Antioch, where again upon her relatives’ demand, she is thrown to the beasts, but the beasts do not hurt the virgin. Finally, she is isolated in a monastery near the town Selevkia, in Cilicia, and devotes herself to the preaching of the Holy Bible, to healing and taking care of the sick. She dies at the age of 90.

st-varvara-barbaraVirgin St. Varvara (Barbara) has been martyred during the reign of the King Maximianos, in the town Iliopolis, in Phoenice, in about 306 AD. She listens to the preaching of the Christians living in her town and is baptized. Varvara orders to prepare one of the windows of their new house under construction in the form of cross. For that order her heathen father subjects her to torments. However, even after house arrest for a long time she does not renounce her faith and is beheaded by her father upon the court’s resolution. Soon after Varvara’s martyrdom the cruel judge and the virgin’s father die as the result of lightning.

st-peghigea-pelagiaSt. Peghigea (Pelagia) of Tarson was born in a rich noble family. She has lived during the period of reign of the King Diokletianos and was martyred in 290 AD. She is baptized and, selling her expensive cloths, distributes the money to the poor and the needy. She refuses to marry the adopted son of the King Diokletianos. For being Christian she is subjected to torments and for remaining loyal to her faith she is burnt.

Commemoration of Pontiff St. Pokas and St. Yeranos

st-pokas-phocasPontiff St. Pokas (Phocas) was the Bishop of the town Sinop located on the shore of the Bleak Sea. He lived in the town Paplagonia and was a gardener. His doors were always open before the foreigners, the poor and the needy. Since childhood he was granted divine grace and worked many wonders. According to hagiographic sources he drove away the demons, recovered the eyesight of the blind, and shared his property with the poor. When he already was the Bishop of Sinop, he is persecuted for being Christian. The soldiers of the King Trayanos are ordered to kill Pokas wherever they meet him. St. Pokas receives the soldiers in his house, entertains them to dinner, and then tells the soldiers that he is the person whom they are seeking. The soldiers, who were pleased with the hospitality and the attitude of St Pokas, persuade Pokas to betray his faith. However, Pokas does not betray Christ and is martyred in 117 A. D.

st-bishop-yeranos-irenaeus (Bishop Irenios (Irenaeus) of Lyons) was born in Aegean Sea region. His teacher was the Pontiff St. Polikarpos of Smyrnia. St. Yeranos has studied in Rome, and then was ordained as a priest. After the martyrdom of the Bishop of Lyon St. Yeranos has succeeded him.

St. Yeranos is the first great theologian of the East and he is the last link binding the Apostolic Fathers with the Church Fathers of the next centuries. The Armenian Haysmavourk testifies that during the reign of Septimos Severos, St. Yeranos has courageously spoken before the judges about Christ, for which he has been subjected to torments and has been martyred in 2002 A. D. He is the author of the famous valuable work: “Against Schismatics”.

Commemoration of Christ’s seventy-two Disciples

72Besides the 12 Apostles, Jesus also had 72 disciples, whom he sent to “preach the Good News to all nations”. Unfortunately, those disciples’ names are not mentioned in the Gospels. In the New Testament the word “disciple” is used of the followers of the Jesus Christ. Christ sent out his apostles and disciples “like lambs among wolves” two by two, to go ahead of him to every town and place where he himself was about to go, saying them: “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me…” (The Gospel according to Luke 10:16). There are hardly any differences between the 12 apostles and the 72 disciples, they have the same power and authority and the same mission (The Gospel according to Luke 10:9; 9:1). However, the names of all 72 disciples, like the names of the 40 innocent children martyred in Bethlehem, are known to God only and are written in the sacred book of the Heavenly Kingdom.

 
 

Commemoration of Princes St. Sahak and Hamazasp Artsrounie

hamazasp-artsrounieSt. Sahak and St. Hamazasp were from the Artsrounie noble dynasty and ruled in Vaspourakan region of Armenia in the period when the Arabic authorities had escalated persecutions against Christians. In 785 A. D. a new governor is appointed in Armenia. The princes and their youngest brother – Meroujan, pay a due visit to the newly appointed governor. Blaming them in rebellion, the governor imprisons the princes and threatening them with tortures, demands to give up any relations with the Greeks and the Christian faith. Being afraid of tortures, Meroujan adopts the Muslim faith. However, on his way back to homeland he is beheaded by Davit Mamikonian, the locum tenens of Hamazasp, as a betrayer. Meanwhile, Sahak and Hamazasp endure the tortures for the sake of Christ’s faith with prayers and silently. Executioners behead first the younger brother Sahak and then – Hamazasp, and burn their remains.

 

Commemoration of St. Eustatheos, his Wife Theophista and their two sons, and the Virgins Yermone and Nektarine

St. Eustatheos (Eustathius) was a rich and philanthropist captain who lived in Rome in the second century and his baptismal name was Plakidos. After the Lord’s vision the heathen captain Plakidos and his family are converted to Christianity and are baptized. Captain Plakidos is renamed Eustatheos. For becoming Christian he is deprived of all royal graces and honors and. losing his property. he leaves Rome. He is subjected to many trials: the pirates kidnap his wife Theophista (Theophistias) and while crossing the river Eustatheos loses his two sons, who being saved from drowning, are adopted by various people. Eustatheos mourns the loss of his family, but obeys the Lord’s will. Soon Eustatheos is taken to serve in the army to defend Rome from enemies. During the war by the God’s will he finds his family. When after winning he returns to Rome, he refuses to realize the King’s demand and to offer sacrifice to heathen idols, claiming that he has won only by God’s will. Annoyed King Adrianos orders to burn Eustatheos, his wife and their two sons.

Virgin Yermone (Iermonia) has lived in the second century. She was the daughter of the Deacon Philipos. Together with her sister Eutikia she goes to seek for John the Baptist. When she leans about the Apostle’s death and meets on her way Petrnoius, the disciple of the Apostle Paul, and becomes the follower of Petronius. She founds a hospital where she treats all the needy people and preaches them the Word of God. St. Yermone is subjected to torments by the King Trayanos, but remains unshaken in her faith. She is martyred during the reign of the King Adrianos, as the heathen idols are destroyed by her prayer when she enters the temple as if to offer sacrifice to the idols.

Virgin Nektarine (Catherine) was the daughter of the Konstas, governor of Alexandria. Being very pretty and having thorough knowledge, she wished to marry only the man who would exceed her in all spheres. Her mother, who was Christian, takes Nektarine to her religious teacher. The latter tells Nektarine about the person woo exceeds all secular bridegrooms. Deserving Christ’s vision, Nektarine is baptized. During the heathen feast Nektarine in the presence of the King reveals the heathens’ delusions. Under the influence of Nektarine 50 wise men, whom the King had invited to reject the virgin’s arguments, are converted to the Christianity. Because of this Nektarine is subjected to torments, but the instruments used for torments turn and start to hit the heathens. Queen Augustouhie and Captain Porphurus and his 200 soldiers, witnessing this miracle, become Christians. Upon the order of the annoyed King the latters are beheaded and Nektarine is swabbed.

  Commemoration of St. Davit of Dvin and Saint Martyrs Dambeos and Dambeuhie

St. Davit (David) of Dvin has been martyred in 701 A. D. in Armenia. He was from a noble family, his baptismal name was Sourhan. His father was Moslem, and his mother was Christian. He served in the Arabic Army. Coming to Armenia, he becomes Christian, and being baptized by the Catholicos Anastas, is renamed Davit. He has lived in Dvin for 30 years. During that period the Arab policeman Abdoulah starts persecutions against Christians and calls Davit to him and persuades him to convert to his old faith. Refusing to betray Christ and his faith, Davit is subjected to severe torments. The cruel Arab policeman decides to crucify Davit. While carrying out the verdict Davit voluntarily approaches the wooden cross and lies on the cross. Among the people assembled was Davit’s wife, who exhorted him to remain loyal to Christ’s faith. Davit is crucified and martyred. Bishop Amatounie, Moushegh Mamikonian and Artavazd – Davit’s brother, take off his body form the cross and bury him near the Church of St. Grigor of Dvin. In the Armenian Church there is a special church hymn dedicated to St. Davit of Dvin.

Dambeos (Lambeos) and Dambeuhie (Lambeas) have been sister and brother. They have lived in the town Nikomedia during the reign of the King Maximianos. Being Christians, they are imprisoned for not offering sacrifice to the idols and, after being subjected to torments, are martyred in 303 A. D.

 

Feast of the Holy Cross of Varague

%d5%be%d5%a1%d6%80%d5%a1%d5%a3%d5%a1-%d5%be%d5%a1%d5%b6%d6%84-%d5%a7All Christian Churches each year solemnly celebrate all feasts dedicated to the Holy Cross. The Armenian Apostolic Church, in difference to the other Christian Churches, celebrates another purely national feast dedicated to the Holy Cross, which is famous as the Holy Cross of Varague. The Armenian Church celebrates this feast two weeks after the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross, that is – the Sunday during the period of September 25 – October 1.

According to the historian Agathangelos, St. Hripsime and her companions, running away from the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos, who started persecutions against Christians, reach to Armenia and find shelter in Vagaharshapat. However, before reaching Vagharshapat they stop at the Mountain Varague, which is to the southeast from the Lake Van. Taking off from her neck the relic of the Lord’s Wooden Cross, St. Hripsime gives it to the praying monks living on the mountain and asks them to preserve it in one of the caves. Thus, the sacred relic remains hidden till the seventh century.

In 653 A. D. the monk Todik and his disciple Hovel pray at the Mountain Varague and ask God to show the place of the relic. Suddenly 12 bright columns appear around the mountain and the sign of the Cross is seen among the columns. For 12 days the bright columns remain visible even from distant sites. This joyful news spreads everywhere.

Nerses the Creator Catholicos who was the Catholicos of All Armenians of that period, and Captain Vard, son the Knight Theodoros, learning about that miracle, go the Mountain Varague to personally witness it. With the support of the Armenian people the Pontiff builds a magnificent church, which in honor of the miracle is named Holy Cross Church. The Pontiff Nerses also writes the marvelous church hymn “By means of the most powerful sign”, which is sung in the churches on the day of the feast.

The sacred relic remains at the Mountain Varague till 1021 A. D. Later the Armenian King Senekerim Artsrouni brings the relic to Sebastia. After the latter’s death the relic is again transferred to its old place and remains there until 1651 A. D. when the relic is taken to Khoshab. In 1655 A. D. the relic is placed in the Church of Holy Godmother, in Van, which is renamed to Church of Holy Sign. The relic was preserved there till 1915 A. D.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Gevorg the Captain, Adoktos and Romanos the Singer

St. Gevorg the Captain (St. George the Warrior) was from Cappadocia. He was born in a pious Christian family. Becoming a soldier of the Roman Army in a short period he deserves the honor of becoming Captain thanks to his courage and devotion. During the council convened by the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos he opposes to his plans on Christians’ execution, and thus the fact that he is Christian, is revealed. The King, becoming surprised and astonished, orders to imprison the Captain and subjects him to severe torments. Many people, among them the Queen Alexandria, become Christians thanks to the preaching of St. George. A magician is ordered to prepare two kinds of remedies for trying the saint and changing his faith. By the first cup the saint should change his mind, and drinking the second cup, he should die. St. Gevorg drinks both cups, but thanks to the power of his faith towards God he remains alive. He also raises a man from the dead.

After the King’s repeated requests St. Gevorg finally agrees to offer sacrifice to the idols. However, reaching the heathen church he breaks all idols one by one. For this act the King orders to behead St. Gevorg and he is martyred in about 303 A. D.

St. Adoktos (Adauctus) has been martyred in 320 A. D., in the Armenian Melitene, during the reign of Maximianos. He has been a state servant in Ephesus. Not willing to marry her daughter – Kalistene, with the Heathen King, he takes her away to the East. For being Christian upon the King’s order he is deprived of his title and property and is exiled to Melitene. The local governor also fails to convert Adoktos to the heathen religion. Remaining steadfast and unshaken in his faith, the saint is beheaded. His wife and the other daughter – Pelopia, bury him. Costantsa – sister of the Emperor Kostandianos, defends and protects Kalistene, he transfers the relics of his father to Ephesus, where a chapel is built over the saint’s tomb of in the future.

St. Romanos the Singer (the Melodist) is considered to be the author and creator of the church hymns’ canons. He has served as a deacon in the Church of St. Sophia, of Constantinople. Many people have mocked at him for his being unable to sing and read well. Once St. Mary appears to him in his dream and giving him a paper roll, orders to eat it. After the dream Romanos is granted the virtue to create and sing church hymns and songs. St. Romanos passes away in 556 A. D.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Pontiffs Baragham, Antimos and Yeranos

St. Baragaham (Barlaam) (250-304) has lived in Antioch and has been martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos. For being Christian he is imprisoned and taken to the court. He refuses to offer sacrifice to the idols, and that fact annoys the judge. He orders to place in the saint’s palm a boiling incense container hoping that the old man will not endure the pain and will pour the incense on the heathen altar for offering sacrifice. However, the honest and pious man, ignoring the pain, holds his arm unmoved till his hand is burnt, and the saint is martyred suffering from severe pains.

St. Antimos (Anthimus) has been the Bishop of Nikomedia. During the reign of the Roman Emperors Dioklethianos and Maximos the Christians are blamed in setting a fire to the royal palace, and persecutions against Christians start. Because of persecutions Antimos is forced to leave the town and live in the mountains. During that period deacon Theophilos is martyred not willing to betray the Bishop Antimos. However, the King finds out the Bishop’s place and sends the soldiers to the mountains ordering to find the saint and to bring him. The soldiers find the saint and although they persuade him not to go with them to Nikomedia, the saint voluntarily returns and goes to the royal court. 20 soldiers, witnessing the saint’s unshaken faith and listening his sermons, are converted to Christianity and are baptized. During the examination in the court the saint gives brave answers, for which he is beheaded after many torments in 303 A. D.

St. Bishop Yeranos (Irenaeus) also has been martyred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Dioklethianos in the town Sirmia of Panonia. During the trial in the court the saint’s parents and relatives persuade him to feel pity for himself and his children. The saint answers that his children have God as their protector who always takes care of them. He remains unshaken in his faith and does not give up. After severe torments the saint is beheaded.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Peprone, Mariane and Shoushan, daughter of Vartan the Great

St. Peprone was from the town Nisibis and since childhood she had entered the church vowing to renounce from secular life and devote herself to the Church. As St. Hripsime, she also has been subjected to persecutions by the Roman Emperor Diokletianos. When the Emperor’s servants reach the town Nisibis in 305 A. D., the nuns living in the monastery are forced to leave the town, while Peprone, who was ill, stays in the monastery with her teacher Vren and Sister Toumayis. Heathen judge Seghinos tries to persuade the pretty nun to renounce from Christianity and promises to marry her with his noble nephew Lusimakos. In response Peprone tells that she has already become the bride of Christ vowing to remain a virgin and not to marry. Seghinos, becoming annoyed, orders to cut off first her hands and feet and than her head. Lusimakos, witnessing her death, becomes faithful and orders to bury her with proper honors, and Seghinos, witnessing the nun’s indescribable torments, goes mad and commits suicide.

St. Mariane was from Antioch in Pisidia. She was the only daughter of the town’s heathen priest and, losing her mother in childhood, she was brought up a Christian nurse. When she had already grown up, her father wishes to make her a heathen priest. The young woman refuses to renounce Christ and to serve the idols. Her father turns her off his house and she goes to her nurse. But soon she is imprisoned and beheaded.

St. Shoushan was Captain Vardan Mamikonian’s elder daughter. Her real name is Vardenie, but in the Armenian history and hagiography she is known by the name Shoushan. She was married to Vazgen, son of the Georgian consul Asousha. Although they had three sons and one daughter, her husband converts to Persian faith and marries the mother-in-low of the Persian knight Peroz. Shoushan begins to live in a small house near the church and prays all the time, always rejecting her husband’s suggestions to give up her faith and ignoring his threats. Shoushan is persecuted for 7 years, but remains unshaken in her faith. She is martyred in 470 A. D. According to the historian Ukhtanes she is buried in Yourtav.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Mamas, Piliktimon and Simeon Stylite

St. Mamas was born in the town Gangra, of the Province of Paplagonia, in a poor Christian family. During persecutions against Christians his parents are imprisoned and exiled to Caesaria. While giving birth to her son, his mother passes away. A pious Christian woman adopts Mamas and brings him up. Already at the age of 15 he is imprisoned and subjected to severe torments for being a devout Christian and brave preacher. Overcoming the hardships he lives an isolated life on the Mountain Argos. St. Mamas devotes all his life to serving the poor, but is betrayed and handed over to the judge. After severe torments St. Mamas is killed by means of trident in 273 A. D. St. Piliktimon (Philomenos), known in Greek and Latin sources also by the name Filomenos, was a grain trader. For being Christian he is imprisoned during the period of persecutions by the King Avrelios. He is subjected to torments and is finally martyred in 274 A. D.

St. Simeon the Stylite was born in 390 A. D. in Caesaria. He has been a shepherd. One day he goes to the church and, not understanding the meaning of the Gospel passage read that day, asks about it an old man standing beside him. The old man explains him the meaning of the Gospel passage saying that the passage is about abstinence, that is, it is by means of ascetic way of life, deprivations and fasting that the people should deserve the heavenly kingdom. Thinking over the old man’s words Simeon leaves for the Hata Province, of Syria, where he is isolated in a monastery for three years, after which he asks God to grant him the grace to preach and heal. Seeing that the visitors and the sick cause too much trouble to him, Simeon digs a deep dungeon, from where only his head was seen while preaching, and later he climbs up a high column. He lives without a shelter, only standing or kneeling during the day, and only taking Holy Communion as food once a week. For many years he stays on the column and preaches and heals many sick people by means of prayers.

  Eve of the Fast of the Holy Cross of Varague

This is the Sunday preceding the week prior to the feast of the Appearance of the Holy Cross on the Mount Varague, lasting from Monday to Friday. Being hidden by St. Hripisime on the Mount Varague, the relic of the Lord’s Wooden Cross was found by a miracle in the 7th century and the Armenian Apostolic Church established another purely national feast dedicated to the Holy Cross, which is famous as the Holy Cross of Varague.

 

Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross

download-4Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the last one of the five major feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is the most important feast among the feasts dedicated to the Holy Cross, as it is dedicated to the history of the return of the Holy Cross from imprisonment, its elevation and glorification. In the Armenian Apostolic Church the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is celebrated on Sunday during the period between September 11-17. This year that date is September 17, and the Monday following the Feast is a Memorial Day.

In 610 A. D, the Persian King Khosrov with a large army attacks the Byzantine Empire. Enthusiastic about the initial victory, in 614 A. D. the Persian army enters Jerusalem. Many people are killed and many are imprisoned. Pontiff Zakaria, the Patriarch of Jerusalem is imprisoned, too. However, the Persians are not satisfied and enter the Church of Holy Sepulcher and take the Holy Cross kept in the Church. The Holy Cross had been found and installed in the Church for the Christians to worship by Heghineh, the mother of the King Costandianos, in the beginning of the 4th century.

In 628 A. D., the Byzantine army led by the King Herakles fight against the Persians to return the Holy Cross. The Armenian army regiment, led by Mzhezh Gnounie, supported the Persian army. With the Lord’s help the Byzantine army wins the battle. The Holy Cross is solemnly brought to the Armenian town Karin, from where it is carried to Constantinople, and then – to Jerusalem. On the way the Holy Cross was raised for the people to see and worship.

For Christians the Cross is God’s power and strength and pride of all prides, on which Christ’s innocent blood was shed. By means of the Cross Jesus proved His love towards mankind, and the Cross became for us the symbol of hope, love and saving.

 

Eve of the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Saturday preceding the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the eve of the feast. That day, as well as the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday following the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross are the feasts of the Holy Church.

 

Birth of St. Mary from Anna

astvadzadzin-sb-hripsimeThe birth of the Holy Mother of God in not described in the Holy Bible. We learn about from the Holy Tradition of the Church. Parents of the Holy Virgin, Jehoiakim and Anna did not have children for many years. Once, when Anna goes to the garden to pray, suddenly God’s Angel appears to her and tells her that she will have a baby. Anna thanks God for hearing her prayers and promises to present her baby to God. Jehoiakim also has the same vision. He also renders glory to God for deserving him that grace and offers sacrifice. Anna gives birth to a girl, who is named Mary, which means “Illuminated”. It was she whom God granted the grace to be the Mother of God. As mother she worried, suffered for her Son, but never opposed to God very well understanding the importance of the mission entrusted to her by God.

  Eve of the Fast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross

This is the Sunday preceding the week prior to the Exaltation of the life giving Cross of the Lord. Fasting period is from Monday to Friday.

 

Commemoration of 318 Pontiffs participating in the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea

318 Pontiffs participating in the Ecumenical Council of NicaeaThis council is the First Ecumenical Council in the history of the Church, which was convened upon the order of the King Costandianos the Great in the town Nicaea near Constantinople, in 327 A. D. 318 prominent pontiffs representing the Universal Church participated in the Council. The reason for convening the council was priest Arios of Alexandria, who preached that Christ was not without beginning, that he was created upon the Will of God before times and centuries, in order the creation of God to be realized by means of Christ. The only one not having birth, the only one eternal and without beginning is God the father. Son has been created not from the essence of the Father, but from nothing. There was a time when the Son did not exist. Although the Son has received all the virtues of the Father and is adopted, he is not pure as the Father is, he is changeable, as all human beings.

Because of such viewpoints of Arios the Divinity of Christ was denied and the entire Christian doctrine was endangered. Archbishop Alexander of Alexandria opposed to Arianism. In his sermons he stressed that God is eternal, and Son is eternal, Father and Son are of the same time. Father does not precede the Son even for a moment, Father has always existed and Son has always existed. The false teaching of Arios is condemned during the first Ecumenical Council and it is declared to be heresy.

Aristakes, son of St. Gregory the Illuminator, also participates in the first Ecumenical Council. The doctrinal formulation adopted by the Council, which is known as Nicene Creed, is brought to Armenia by Aristakes and is presented to St. Gregory the Illuminator. The latter added to it the following passage: “As for us, we shall glorify him who was before the ages, worshipping the Holy Trinity and the one Godhead, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto ages of ages. Amen.”.

The Nicene Creed, adopted in Nicaea, and the passage added by St. Gregory the Illuminator, are up to date used in the rites of the Armenian Apostolic Church without any change. Aristakes brings to Armenia also 20 canons adopted by the Council of Nicaea, which are also ratified by St. Gregory the Illuminator.

 

Commemoration of Sts. John the Baptist and Job the Righteous

Մկրտություն թSt. John the Baptist (the Forerunner) is the most prominent person in the Gospels after Jesus Christ and it is he who opens the era of God’s Kingdom, that is – the era of Christ’s Church. Being a promised son and born in excellent conditions, John spends his youth in isolation and in the presence and virtues of God. At the age of 30 he goes to the valley of Jordan to preach and to prepare the people for Christ’s Coming. In the very beginning of his mission he appeals to the people and exhorts them to turn from their sins: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near! … Do those things that will show that you have turned from sins… The ax is ready to cut down the trees at the roots; every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire” (The Gospel according to Matthew 3:2, 8, 10). In the Gospels he is the man the Prophet Isaiah was talking about when he said, “Someone is shouting in the desert, “ Prepare a road for the Lord; make a straight way for him to travel!” (The Gospel according to Matthew 3:3). The peak of John’s activity is baptizing of Jesus and declaring him to be the promised Messiah. After John’s realizing the mission of baptizing Herod, the ruler of Galilee first imprisons John the Baptist for reprimanding him for marrying to Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and then beheads John the Baptist.

Job the Righteous Հոբ ԵրանելիJob lived in the land of Uz surrounding the Dead Sea. He “worshipped God and was faithful to him. He was a good man, careful no to do anything evil” (The Book of Job 1:1). Job had seven sons and three daughters; he was rich and had a large number of servants. However, wealth had not spoilt him

By the will of God job is subjected to various sufferings, loses his property, children and is afflicted with a repulsive disease (leprosy), but nevertheless, he does not sin against God and in response to his wife’s complaints, Job says: “When God sends us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us troubles?” (The Book of Job 2:10). Facing all those sufferings, in the end Job is restored to his former conditions with even greater prosperity than before.

Job’s life teaches us two important and true things: firstly, the spirit of evil, Satan, always stands in the roots of the evil, and secondly, the sufferings always contribute to the man’s becoming a good man.

 
Commemoration of the Prophets Ezekiel, Ezra and Zechariah – St. John the Baptist’s Father

Prophecy is one of the most important phenomena of the Old Testament. Prophet is the person who has had close relationship with God, that is – he “has spoken” with God, or has received a message from God, or has been sent by God to a person or a nation to transfer His message. The main characteristic trait of the true prophet is his being incorruptible, independent, brave and extremely faithful to the divine message and commandment.

The author of prophecies is God. He has transferred his revelation to man thanks to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. First He has inspired His ideas, and then man, under His influence, comprehending the ideas, has transferred them to the people.

Prophet EzekielProphet Ezekiel was one of the priests serving in the Temple of Jerusalem. After the King of Babylon – Nebuchadnezzar takes Jerusalem in 597 B. C. Ezekiel is exiled with other Israelites. Four years later God calls Ezekiel to Him in order to make him His prophet. From the place of exile Ezekiel warns as Jews, who had captivated Jerusalem, as well as the people remaining in Jerusalem. After taking and fall of Jerusalem in 587 B. C. he addresses the people consoling and giving hope words.

The beginning of the Prophet Ezra’s priesthood is considered to be 397 B. C. His most important deed was keeping Israelites back from intermarriages, which became the reason of not only forgetting true God, but also distorted their national traits and image. Ezra also collected and classified the rules of Moses.

Zechariah - St. John the Baptist’s Father 2Prophet Zechariah (Zechariah) is John the Baptist’s father, who served in the temple of Jerusalem. He and his wife – Elizabeth, who was the sister of Anna – St. Mary’s mother, had no children for many years. When Zechariah, being already an aged man, was offering a sacrifice in the Temple, an angel appears to him and tells him that his wife – Elizabeth will bear him a son. For doubting the good tidings of the Angel Zechariah is punished to be unable to speak and to remain silent until the day of birth of his son – John the Baptist.

Prophet Zechariah is killed in the cathedral by means of being swabbed before the holy altar for hiding his son from the soldiers of the King Herod.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Stepanos of Ulnia, Martyrs Goharine, Tsamides, Tyoukikos and Ratikos

St. Stepanos (Stephen) of Ulnia (Oulnia) was born in the town Kokison near the mountain Tyouros. Being a promised son, he has been brought up and educated under the care of the priest who had baptized him. He was educated according to the divine commandments and was familiar with the Holy Bible. It was said about the priest that “each Sunday together with the other Christians he communicated young Stepanos with the mystery of the Lord’s Body and Blood.”

During the persecutions realized by the King Julianos the Betrayer St. Stepanos has been subjected to severe torments and has been martyred together with his family and other Christians. Later a church has been built over his tomb.

Martyrology of St. Stepanos of Ulnia is the best example of Christian education.

Martyrs Goharine (Goharinus), Tsamides (Zamidus), Tyoukikos (Teuchuicus) and Ratikos (Ratigus), who are known by the name Goharine and his companions, were four brothers. Their father was an Armenian prince who being captivated together with his elder son – Aregh, had been released only after converting to the Moslem faith. However, Davit’s wife brings up and educates her sons in the spirit of Christianity. When they grow up and enter the Islamic Army of Sebastia, they courageously defend Christianity. When it is found out that their father is Moslem and that they have become Christians, they are handed over to the local authorities, but by the efforts of their elder brother are somehow released.

After a while they are handed over again and courageously announce about their being Christian. After threats and tortures they are finally beheaded in 1156 AD, thus displaying their willingness to be martyred for the sake of the truth. Meanwhile by means of their life they realized the following words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, carry his cross, and follow me.” (The Gospel according to Mathew 16:24).

 

Feast of the Discovery of St. Mary’s Box

AstvadadzinAccording to tradition, while en route to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage, two Greek princes come across a chest that once belonged to St. Mary. In Galilee, they see a large crowd gathered in front of a Jewish woman’s house. They inquire and find that the sick are being healed due to the inexplicable power of the chest. The princes bring the box to Constantinople and present it to the Patriarch, who places it in the Church of St. Mary. The Patriarch then establishes the Feast of the Discovery of St. Mary’s Box.

The Armenian Church celebrates this feast upon the order of the Catholicos Simeon from Yerevan, who accepted this tradition from the Greek Orthodox Church in the late 18th century.

 

Commemoration of St. Thomas

ԹովմասSt. Thomas Apostle (called the Twin) is known from the passage of the Gospel where the other Apostles state that they have seen Rosen Christ, whereas Thomas insists that he won’t believe unless he sees the scars of nails in His hands and puts his fingers on those scars and his hand in His side. A week later Jesus appears in the indoors to the untrusting Apostle. Thomas, believing the miracle, kneels down and says: “My Lord and my God!” (The Gospel according to John 20: 24-29). When the remaining Apostles hesitate to go with Christ to visit dead Lazarus, as there was a great danger to be stoned, Thomas bravely says to his fellow disciples, “Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!” (The Gospel according to John 11:16).

According to the tradition St. Thomas Apostle has preached the Word of God in Parthia and India, and has been martyred and buried in Madras.

 

Commemoration of Sts. James and Simon Apostles

St. JamesIn order to differ St. James Apostle from James, the son of Zebedee, he is named “James son of Alphaeus” and “James Junior”. The Apostle James son of Alphaeus has preached the Gospel in the Southern parts of Palestine and in Egypt, where he has been martyred.

St. Simon the Patriot Apostle is famous as “Simon of Canaan”, which also means “Zealous”. There was a grouping with that name among the Jews, who without making distinctions between means struggled against the foreign Roman yoke and for eliminating the betraying and fond of foreigners Jews. St. Simon has preached and has been martyred in Persia.

 

Commemoration of the Prophet Jeremiah

JeremiaProphet Jeremiah is one of the four Major Prophets of the Old Testament. In comparison with other persons and saints of the Holy Bible, there is much more and rather trustworthy information about the Prophet Jeremiah.

The Prophet Jeremiah lived during the latter part of the seventh century and the first part of the sixth century B. C. He was the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests of the town Anathoth not far from Jerusalem. He lived and preached in Jerusalem. Feeling the calling to serve God he has devoutly served refusing to marry and have his own family. The people, being idolatrous and experiencing social difficulties and unfairness, could not understand his honest motives. As the result of such attitude the Prophet Jeremiah prophesizes the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of Temple. Witnessing his nation’s idolatry and sin, he continuously preaches equality and true faith in God, exhorts them to change the way they are living and to be fair in their treatment of one another, to stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans and widows, to stop killing innocent people in this land, to stop worshipping other gods, for that will destroy them (The Book of Jeremiah, 7: 1-6 compare with 5:25-28).

 

Commemoration of Sts. Joachim and Anna, Parents of the Holy Mother of God, and Oil-Bringing Women

Հովակիմ և ԱննաThe names of St. Joachim (Jehoiakim) and Anna are closely related to Jesus, as they are the parents of the Holy Mother of God.

According to the tradition, wealthy Joachim was a descendant of King David, and Anna was the daughter of a priest. One day, when performing a service in the cathedral, the priest tells Joachim to stand in the end, as he had no son. Becoming upset, Joachim comes out of the Cathedral and immediately climbs up the mountains, vowing not to descend the mountain until the visit of God. Following his example, Anna, staying at home, devotes herself to prayer and repentance. And once, when Anna sees in the garden the birds playing with their nestlings, becomes sad and cries, as she wasn’t granted the grace of being a mother. Just at that moment the Angel of God visits Anna, telling her that God will be granting her a son who will be the mother of the Savior of the world. Joachim also has the same vision and becoming very happy, gives alms to the poor. The parents decide to devote the baby to the Church. The baby is named Mary, which means “Illuminated”.

The oil-bringing women are the witnesses of Christ’s torments. They are the first to give the good tidings of the Resurrection of our Lord. The Oil-Bringing women followed Christ during all the time of realizing His earthly mission. The church calls them “Oil-Bringing Women” as on Sunday, in the morning, they hurried to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus by the aromatic oils prepared by themselves.

Thanks to their devoutness they were first to see the Rosen God and told about it the Apostles. They were in the upstairs during Pentecost and together with the Apostles received the graces of the Holy Spirit.

The Armenian Apostolic Church commemorates the memory of St. Joachim and Anna together with the oil-Bringing Women.

 

Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God

Verapoxumn AstvadzadzniEach year on the Sunday closest to the date of August 15, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, the Holy Mother of God. In the Calendar of the Armenian Church, this feast is the fourth of five major feasts that are commemorated, and is the oldest one dedicated to St. Mary.

In the Holy Bible, there is little information concerning the details of St. Mary’s life. As a result, the story of her Assumption has been preserved and passed on to us through the Holy and Sacred Tradition of the Apostolic Church.

Following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the Holy Virgin remains in Jerusalem, and lives under the care of St. John the Evangelist. For nearly 12 years, St. Mary lives by praying, fasting, and often visiting the empty tomb of her beloved Son. During one such visit to the tomb, the Archangel Gabriel appears and gives her the news of her imminent assumption to heaven. St. Mary relays the news to her relatives and all Christians, asking them to bury her in the valley of Gethsemane. St. Mary also asks the Apostle John to celebrate a Divine Liturgy, so she may receive Holy Communion one final time. After receiving Holy Communion, St. Mary returns to her room. As the Apostles prepare to mourn her death, St. John asks the Mother of God to leave an image of her face on a board of wood. St. Mary takes the board, crosses herself and brings it close to her face. Moistening the board with her tears, she asks God that by means of the board, people would be cured from disease. As the Apostles surround St. Mary, an indescribable light appears. The Son of God and the angels of heaven appear in the room. Seeing Christ, St. Mary dies.

St. Bartholomew the Apostle was absent and did not participate in the burial service of St. Mary. Upon his return to Jerusalem, he wishes to see St. Mary for the last time. Per his request, the Apostles open the tomb, yet they do not find the remains of St. Mary. According to His promise, Jesus Christ had delivered His mother to His heavenly kingdom. The Apostles give the board of St. Mary to St. Bartholomew for consolation. According to Moses of Khoren, St. Bartholomew brings the board to Armenia. It is kept in the Province of Andzav, in a location called Darbnots. Years later, a church is built there in honor of St. Mary, and a convent is opened.

On the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, the Ceremony of the Blessing of the Grapes is conducted, and the harvest for the entire year is blessed on that day.

The Armenian Church has a deep and abiding respect towards St. Mary. Special emphasis is placed on her being a mother, her honesty, her unique spirit of humility, her virtuous behavior and her unselfish dedication. For Armenian women, the Holy Virgin is the embodiment of virtue, pious motherhood, and the protector of family sacredness.

 

Feast of the Apparition (“Shoghakat”) of Holy Etchmiadzin

etchmiadzin1The Feast of “Shoghakat” of Holy Etchmiadzin commemorates the inauguration of the Cathedral of the Mother See. The fifth century Greek historian Agathangelos tells us of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s divine vision, wherein our Lord Jesus Christ descends from Heaven and strikes the ground with His golden hammer. In view of biblical Mount Ararat, in the city of Vagharshapat, the place where the Only Begotten descended identified the site for the foundation of the new cathedral of the Christian Armenian Nation. The vision of Gregory became known as “Shoghakat”, as the Saint saw a fiery column descending from the sky.

The foundation was laid in 301 A.D. and the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin was consecrated in 303 A.D. on the day of the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God. We learn from Archbishop Malachia Ormanian that as the Mother Cathedral of the Armenian Church and Nation is dedicated to St. Mary, the feast of her foundation and inauguration is celebrated in the Armenian Church on the Saturday preceding the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God.

For 1,700 years, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin has been, and continues to be, the spiritual heart and center of the Armenian Church, and is her most sacred sanctuary. Her spiritual, national and historical significance has only increased through the centuries. Through the vision of St. Gregory, God Incarnate descended upon the soil of Armenia and predetermined her future, making Armenia the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

 

Eve of the Fast of St. Mary, Holy Godmother

This is the Sunday preceding the week prior to the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, Holy Godmother, one of the major feasts of Armenian Apostolic Church and one of the seven feasts dedicated to St. Mary. The fasting period lasts from Monday to Friday.

 

Commemoration Day of 200 Pontiffs participating in the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus

Ecumenical Council of EphesusThe Ecumenical Council of Ephesus was convened in 431 A. D., during the reign of the King Theodosius Small. 200 Pontiffs participated in the Council with the goal to criticize the false teaching of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. According to his teaching there were two independent – divine and human natures in Christ, contrasting each other. Nestorius preached that Christ was born as a simple man and only later Divinity was settled in His Person, and therefore, the Holy Virgin Mary was not Godmother, but the mother of a simple man.

The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus condemns the teaching of Nestorius and adopts the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria as an orthodox teaching, according to which the divine and human natures of Christ do not exist separately, but are united unmixedly, without confusion – one Lord, one Jesus, one face and one united divine and human nature. St. Mary is not the mother of a simple man, but she is Godmother as she gave birth to the Son of God. So, the formulation of St. Cyril of Alexandria: “One is the nature of the Incarnate Word of God” was adopted. The Armenian Church has not participated in that Ecumenical Council but has adopted its resolutions and ecumenical authority together with the previous Ecumenical Councils.

 

Commemoration of Martyrs Sts. Eugenios, Makarios, Valerios, Canditos and Akyoughas

The quick spreading of Christianity especially on the territory of the Roman Empire since the 3rd century started to worry the kings. Royal charters were issued ordering the Christians to adopt the heathen religion, otherwise they should be persecuted to death. During that period of persecutions any Christians preferred to die than to Betray Jesus Christ.

The Church always appreciated the torments of the people for the sake of Christ, their courage and strength of their faith. Among such people are the martyrs Eugenios and Makarios, martyred during the reign of the King Julianos the Betrayer. Martyrs Valerios, Canditos and Akyoughas have been martyred during the reign of the Kings Dioclethianus and Maximianus.

Commemorating the martyrs’ memory, the Church teaches the faithful to remain loyal to Christ even under most severe circumstances.

 

Commemoration of the Hermits St. Triphon, St. Parsam and St. Vonoprios

St. Triphon the HermitSt. Triphon the Hermit was martyred in the town Nicaea during the reign of the king Dekos, the hermit St. Parsam the Hermit lived in the deserts of Syria in the middle of the fifth century, and the hermit St. Vonoprios the Hermit was born in Egypt in the fourth century. After living in the monastery for a while Vonoprios moved to the desert and lived there for 60 years without meeting anyone. Like many other hermits, Vonoprios healed many sick people. That is why people pray especially to that saint for healing children and in case of difficult confinement.
 

Commemoration of St. Vahan of Goghten

Vahan of Goghten was the son of Prince Khosrov, the Governor of the province of Goghten. In childhood, together with many other Armenian princes, he was captivated by the Arabs and was taken to Damask, where is circumcised and renamed Vahab.

Vahan was a very clever and skilled young man. Receiving proper education he undertook various responsibilities in the royal court. Despite the fact that he was brought up and educated in Arabic environment, Vahan knew about his ancestors. He hadn’t forgotten that he had been Christian and came from a noble family. In 719 AD The Armenian Pontiff Hovhannes of Odzoun paid a visit to the Governor of Damask, and upon his request the Governor allowed the captives to return to their homeland. Taking the opportunity Vahan also expressed wish to visit his homeland and was allowed on condition of returning. Reaching Armenia, Vahan became aware of the Governor’s death and took a decision to remain in his homeland. He married the daughter of the Prince Babken, the Governor of Syounik province, and lived there. However, the New Governor of Damask began the searches for Vahan. The latter concealing himself, wandered in his homeland, in Georgia, visited many churches and monasteries and finally stopped in the town Routsap, in Syria. Rejecting the governor’s suggestion to change his faith, he was martyred in 737 AD. On the day of the saint’s commemoration a special church hymn is sung, the author of which is his sister Khosrovidoukht.

 

Commemoration of the Virgin Eugine, her father – Philippus, her mother Klothia and her two servants

St. Virgin EugeniaPhilippus was a Roman nobleman. Being appointed the Governor of Egypt, together with his family he moved to Alexandria. Eugine, the daughter of Philippus, upon his father advice began to study in Alexandria. During the studies she read the Apostle St. Paul’s epistles with great interest. Believing in Christ, Eugine and her two servants were baptized and became Christians. Then wearing man’s clothing, she entered a monastery and later became the Abbess. A young woman fell in love with Eugine and being refused by her, blamed her in an attempt to rape. Facing the judge, who was her father, Eugine was forced to reveal the truth and to identify herself. Her father and other relatives, listening from Eugine about the Savior, became Christians. Becoming aware of that reality, the Emperor ordered to kill Philippus. Their family moved to Rome, where they were beheaded because of being Christians. Eugine was beheaded on the day of the Holy Feast of Nativity and Theophany. Soon after that Eugine’s mother – Klothia, was martyred, too.
 
 
Commemoration of St. Gregory the Theologian
St. Gregory the TheologianSt. Gregory the Theologian has left rich literary heritage, which was translated into Armenian in the 5-8th centuries AD. In all probability St. Moses of Khoronk has made a part of translations into Armenian. St. Gregory the Theologian is one of the most prominent figures of Christianity, who by means of the struggle against Arians has kept Christianity uncorrupted and by means of his works he has greatly influenced the formulation of the Christian theologian ideology. St. Gregory the Theologian was born in 328 AD in the village Ariangue near the town Naziangue, of Cappadocia. He was the son of the Bishop Gregory. Gregory studied in Caesaria, and then in Athens. In Athens Gregory became acquainted with St. Barsegh of Ceasaria – one of the prominent figures of Christianity in the future. After leading ascetic life for a while, Gregory returned to Naziangue, where he was ordained as a priest by his father. Later he became the Bishop of Sasima. Together with St. Barsegh of Ceasaria St. Gregory the theologian struggled against the Arians. He participated in the 2nd Ecumenical Council of Constantinople. St. Gregory passed away on January 25, 389 AD.
 

Commemoration of Sts. Martyrs Gordios, Poghiktos and Grigoris

Gordios was a Captain from Caesaria. His parents were pious Christians. He served in the Royal Army during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian’s. Witnessing many cases of unfairness and injustice, he was isolated and devoted himself to God. When the Emperor Likianus started the persecutions against Christians, Gordios went to Caesaria and confessed to the heathen crowd that he was Christian and started to preach them the Truth. He was imprisoned and forced to offer sacrifice to the idols. But St. Gordios remained unshaken in his faith. After severe torments he passed away in 320 AD. Christians gathered his relics and buried them.

Poghiktos is the first martyr of the Armenian town Melitene. Thanks to his friend he adopted Christianity. He prohibited the reading of the King’s Charter before the idols and tore it into pieces. For that deed he was martyred being beheaded. in 259 AD.

Grigoris has been martyred in 549 AD as the result of persecutions of the Persian king Denshapouh. Grigoris was Persian by nationality. Before baptism his name was Manajihr. During the reign of the Armenian Governor Mzhezh Gnouni he left for Armenia and was baptized and received a new name – Grigoris. Afterwards he entered a monastery and began to lead monastic life. When the King Denshapouh came to Armenia and found out that in the past Grigoris had been fire-worshipper, forced him to return to his old faith. But St. Grigoris did not betray Christ and was martyred.

 

Commemoration of St. Kirakos and his mother Judithah

Judithah was a God-loving and pious woman. She had a three-year-old son, whose name was Kirakos. When persecutions against the Christians began, she left for Tarson. But she did not live a quiet and peaceful life there as the persecutions were being continued in Tarson, too. The saint woman was imprisoned and subjected to torments. Little Kirakos, seeing his mother’s sufferings cried, but despite the judge’s kindness and warm attitude, he was strengthened by his faith towards Christ and all the time repeated his mother’s words: “I am Christian and I worship Jesus Christ”. The baby tried by all means to get free from the judge’s hands and to go to his mother. He struck the judge in the hand and the annoyed judge threw the baby down the stairs. Knocking his head against a stone, the baby died. His mother rendered glory to God that her son was martyred, but did not betray Our Savior Jesus Christ. She was subjected to indescribable torments and finally was beheaded. This event took place in 305 AD The Armenian Church has dedicated a church hymn to St. Kirakos.
 

Commemoration of the King St. Theodos and Children of Ephesus

King and distinguished Captain Theodos, who is called also Theodos the Great, is known to the Christian world as the greatest advocate and supporter of Orthodoxy.

In 379 being appointed the king of the East, pious Theodos allowed all the orthodox Bishops exiled upon the order of the previous king to return to their countries. According to the book “Life of the Saints” among them was the Armenian Pontiff St. Nerses. Another important step directed to the strengthening of the orthodox faith became the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople convened upon the order of the King Theodos in 381.

The modest behavior of the pious Christian is exemplary. When as punishment for the massacre of the people organized in Thessalonica the Bishop of Milan prohibited Theodos to enter the church, the king obeyed and entered the church only after repenting for 8 months.

On the day of commemoration of the King Theodos the Armenian Church commemorates also the memory of the 7 children of Ephesus. 7 noble young men from Ephesus were secretly baptized and became Christians. For adopting Christianity they were persecuted by the king Dekos and hid themselves in the cave of the nearby mountain (Voghkos). By God’s will they fell sleep in the cave for 140 years and woke up only in 389, during the period of reign of the king Theodos. When people became aware of that divine miracle, the king and the residents of Ephesus met the persecuted Christians with great respect and honor. Returning to their cave the 7 young men passed away. They were buried in the same cave, upon which later a magnificent church was built.

 

Commemoration of St. Anton the Hermit

St. Anton the HermitSome time after the spreading of Christianity the hermits’ movement started. Hermits were those persons who devoted themselves to God, went to uninhabited places and deserts and spent their life there praying and fasting. Thus, by God’s will they overcame the human faults and attained spiritual perfection. After many years of ascetic life the hermits were granted the grace of working wonders and healing the sick by means of prayers. St. Anton the Hermit is the founder of ascetic and monastic life. He was born in the village Koma, Egypt, in 251, in a noble family. After his parents’ death Anton inherited their wealth. Once in the church he listened the evangelical commandment, in which Jesus says: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” (Mt 19:21). Being led by this commandment, Anton sold all of his property and lived in the spirit of praying, fasting and doing charity. After some time he left his native village and began to live in a cave, where according the hagiographers he struggled against the demons and devils who constantly appeared to him in the appearance of wild beasts. Patiently facing all temptations the saint left for a desert and lived there completely isolated for 20 years. Becoming aware of his ascetic and secluded life, many people left their houses and went the desert to live ascetic life. Upon the request of his spiritual brothers St. Anton came out of his cave and explained the assembled people monastic cannons and rules, which later became the guideline for monastic life. The saint passed away at the age of 105.

  Commemoration of Patriarchs St. Athanasius and St. Cyril of Alexandria

athanasius the greatPatriarchs St. Athanasius and St. Cyril are among the most prominent figures of the Universal Church, who devoted their lives to the promulgation of the orthodoxy of Christianity, and the struggle against false conceptions and erroneous teachings. St. Athanasius (295-373 A.D.) was born in Alexandria, to a Greek Christian family. He received his higher education in the famous Theological School of Alexandria. He was ordained to the diaconate by Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria, and participated in the Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325, as the Patriarch’s personal secretary. During the council he decisively defeated Arius and his followers who denied the Divine nature of Christ and purported that He was a created being. In his argument St. Athanasius stated the reality of Christ being God and explained the salvation in combining the human nature of Jesus with God, which is possible only through His incarnation. According to the formulation of St. Athanasius, salvation is nothing else but theosis – being adopted by God. Athanasius stated that God became incarnate, “so that sons of mortal men should become sons of God.” St. Cyril of AlexandriaIn 328, St. Athanasius became Bishop of Alexandria. He continued to struggle against Arianism and forcefully defended the Nicene Orthodox teaching. Having been subjected to repeated persecutions, he spent 15 of his 47-year episcopal service in exile. His heroic efforts bore fruit, and eight years following his death his teachings were adopted by the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, in 381. St. Athanasius made very significant contributions to the development of monastic life as well. Patriarch St. Cyril of Alexandria is one of the brilliant representatives of the Alexandrian Theological School. He was born in 380, and was the nephew of Patriarch Theophilus, whom he succeeded in 412. He struggled against Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, for the preservation of orthodox teaching. It was for this purpose that Emperor Theodoros II convened the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus, in 431. During the Council, Nestorius and his teachings were criticized and condemned, and the formulation of “Theotokos” (Birthgiver to God) was adopted by the Church as it related to St. Mary. The famous formulation of St. Cyril: “The one incarnate nature of God the Word”, has become the cornerstone of the Armenian Church regarding the nature of Christ.
 

Commemoration of Sts. Sophia and her three daughters – Pistos, Yelpis and Agapie

Sts. Sophia and her three daughters – Pistos, Yelpis and AgapieThese names have Christian origin and in Greek they correspondingly mean wisdom, faith, hope and love.

Sophia was born in a noble family and lived nearby the city Rome. After the death of her husband she devoted herself to God. Being a pious Christian she educated her daughters Pistos, Yelpis and Agapie in Christian spirit. Christian values and ideas were the principles of their life.

A heathen young man fell in love with one of the daughters of Sophia and wished to marry her. However, Sophia rejected the young man saying: “We are Christians and virginity is dearer to us than gold and pearl.” Getting angry the young man complained to the King Adrianos. The king call ed the three young ladies and demanded to offer sacrifice to the idols. Being since childhood educated according to the Christian commandments the sisters opposed to the king and remained unshaken in their faith. Then the king got angry and ordered to behead them.

Sophia buried the bodies of her daughters and prayed God asking to take her soul as soon as possible, so that she would join her beloved daughters. God listened to Sophia’s prayers and Sophia passed away.

 
 

Commemoration of the 12 Minor Prophets – Sts. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi

In addition to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel (the four major prophets of the Old Testament), the Armenian Church commemorates the following twelve minor prophets. The Prophets were those persons through which God spoke his will to the people of the world. They were the voice of God on earth, and gave advice to the people of Israel, warning them against dangers, and trying to keep them from the temptations of sin. Each prophet clearly comprehended that God spoke by means of his person. To that end, in the Holy Bible, we find expressions of “God told me”, “This is what God is saying”, etc. Often, God gave them power to work miracles, proving to people that they were chosen by Him. In the Nicene Creed, we proclaim that the Holy Spirit “Spoke in the Law, in the Prophets and in the Gospel”, once more affirming that God has spoken to us by means of the prophets.

The prophets received their revelations through visions, proverbs, and symbols. They were the connecting link in the God-man relationship. The prophets’ purpose was to purify and instill in the human mind the conscience that God is their leader, as well as to strengthen the faith in the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom. All prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah came true in the New Testament, by means of Jesus Christ. The twelve prophets lived and worked over a broad range of time:

Hosea: the Prophet Hosea was the preacher of the Word of God following Amos, in 750 BC. He continued his mission until Samaria was conquered in 722-721 BC, and the Kingdom of Israel was eliminated. As the Israeli state disintegrated, Assyria became increasingly powerful. In his prophecies, Hosea condemned the significant moral decay of Israel, and the elimination of social justice. He made declarations concerning the responsibility of the elite. God speaks of His Love through Hosea. That love demands us to struggle against all forms of injustice, and to beware of false idols.

Joel: Little is known about the period when the Prophet Joel lived and when his prophecies were compiled in a separate book. He spoke of the “Day of the Lord”, and exhorted people to turn to God. He has foretold that the day would come when God would “pour out His Spirit” over all people. This prophecy came true during Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended to earth in the form of tongues of flame.

Amos: the Prophet Amos is the oldest prophet. He was a shepherd, who lived in the village of Thecua, not far from Bethlehem. He lived and worked in the 8th century BC. In his prophecies, he spoke of the greatness of God, authority and justice, the demands of the law, and especially of the rights of the poor and the needy. He appealed to the rich, the powerful, the judges and the priests with great firmness.

Obadiah: the Prophet Obadiah’s book is the shortest of the Minor Prophets. It was most likely compiled in approximately 587 BC. The prophet told that descendents of Esau – the people of Edom – would be punished and defeated as would all other nations that were the enemies of Israel. This was to make the people of Israel understand that the last word is God’s Word, and that He alone would come be the final judge all peoples and nations.

Jonah: Unlike the other prophetic books, the Book of Jonah is a narrative describing the adventures of a prophet who tried, in every way, to disobey God’s command. However, in the end his attempts were in vain. By the Lord’s command, a large fish swallowed Jonah, where he remained for three days and three nights. Only after Jonah’s prayer and redemption did the Lord allow the fish to free Jonah. In the Gospels, Christ repeatedly refers to this story.

Micah: the Prophet Micah was from the village of Moresheth, which many identify with the present-day Tel-Al-Jadidah. Micah lived in the 8th century BC. He warned of the fall of Jerusalem, which was the consequence of the sins of man. He called on them to repent and remain obedient to the Will of God.

Nahum: the name of the prophet means “consoler” or “comforter”. The Book of Nahum was written in the period between the conquering of Thebes by the Assyrians in 663 BC and the fall of Nineveh to the Babylonians in 612 BC. Nahum taught of the Lord’s jealousy and vengefulness, including a forceful description of the fright that seized all creation when faced with the judgment of the Lord. The book continues, however, and in contrast with this harsh picture of God, Nahum describes the comforting assurance of God’s loving kindness towards His true servants.

Habakkuk: there is little information available on this prophet. Habakkuk shared in the misfortunes and sufferings of others, while strongly condemning evil. The book was most likely written towards the end of the 5th century BC to the beginning of the 6th century BC. The book reads as a dramatic dialogue between God and His prophet, and presents the Lord as the eternal and righteous ruler of the world.

Zephaniah: the Prophet Zephaniah preached in the latter part of the 7th century BC, prior to Habakkuk. Zephaniah answered questions concerning the level of God’s interest in mankind, and whether God has predetermined the course of history. He also preached very forcefully against idolatry in all its forms.

Haggai: the Prophet Haggai preached to encourage the Israelites to rebuild the temple of Jerusalem. He advanced the idea that the poverty of the people and the poor condition of the harvest was due to the Temple remaining in a state of ruins. This book was likely written in 520 BC.

Zechariah: the Prophet Zechariah lived and prophesized during the same period as Haggai. The urging of the two prophets brought about the eventual rebuilding of the Temple. The book consists of two parts. The first part contains prophecies dating back to 520-518 BC, the second part may have been written many years later.

Malachi: the prophet is the last of the minor prophets. The Book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, was written in the first half of the 5th century BC. Malachi, as a witness to the degradation of society, exhorted people and priests to change their behavior. The prophet also preached of God’s unending love, and the impending day of final judgment.

 

Commemoration of the Maccabees, Sts. Eleazar the Priest, Shamuna and her seven Sons

In the second century BC, Judea was under the rule of the Seleucids. During the reign of King Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria, he attempted to force Greek paganism on his Jewish subjects. A priest named Mattathias, along with his sons and brothers, revolted against the king and remained loyal and faithful to God. One of Mattathias’ sons, Judas, acted with distinction and special bravery in this revolt. As a result, he received the Greek epithet “Maccabeus” which means hammer or hammer-like. Later, this name is applied to his entire family, and they began to be called Maccabees.

Eleazar the Priest was another of Mattathias’ sons. He too was brave, pious and wise. The king attempted to force him to eat pork, which according to Jewish law, is prohibited. Being reared in the spirit of God’s divine commandments and laws, he refused the king’s order, and preferred to die heroically, saving his reputation and honor. Following subjugation to long and brutal tortures, Eleazar was killed and became a source of courage and inspiration for generations to come.

The martyrdom of a brave mother and her seven sons also dates back to the same period. Like the priest Eleazar, they also were ordered to eat pork. Her sons were tormented and killed one by one before their mother, but all remained steadfast in their faith. At the end, Shamuna is also put to death for having remained loyal to faith of their forefathers. The Maccabees and their story have long been viewed as a source of inspiration for remaining steadfast in the faith and loyal to God. In our own Church tradition and history, we learn that Saint Vartan read from the Books of the Maccabees to the Armenian soldiers on the eve of the Battle of Avarayr in 451 AD.

The martyrdom of the prophets of the Old Testament named Maccabees can be found in 1 Maccabees 1:30-64 and 2 Maccabees 5:24 – 7:41.

 

Commemoration of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s Sons and Grandsons – Sts. Aristakes, Vrtanes, Housik, Grigoris and Daniel

unnamed11Aristakes was St. Gregory the Illuminator’s youngest son. He led a monastic life from a very early age. He was consecrated a bishop by his father, and became one of St. Gregory’s most valued supporters. In 325 A.D. he participated in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, representing the first Catholicos and the entire Armenian Church. Following St. Gregory the Illuminator, he became Catholicos of All Armenians.

He was killed in 333 A.D. by Arkeghayos, a prince of Greater Armenia, for criticizing some incorrigible behavior of the king, and was buried in the village Til. Vrtanes was St. Gregory the Illuminator’s elder son. He was married and had two sons – Grigoris and Housik. Following the death of his brother, he ascended to the Catholicosal Throne.

Although Christianity was already fairly well accepted as the official religion, some remnants of paganism and heathenism continued in remote areas and smaller villages. One region that had substantial resistance was the province of Daron. Vrtanes organized annual festive Christian celebrations in this province to gradually eliminate their pagan beliefs and practices.

Vrtanes died in 341 A.D. and was buried in the village Tordan, near the relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator.

Grigoris was the elder son of Vrtanes. He was sent by the Armenian Church to spread Christianity among the neighboring nations of Armenia. He was martyred upon the order of King Sanesan, the head of the nomadic Mazkut tribe. His remains were buried by the deacons who served with him, in the village of Amaras, in Artsakh. In 489 A.D. upon the order of the Aghvan (Caucasian Albanian) King Vachagan, the Church of St. Gregory was built on this site.

Housik was the younger son of Vrtanes. He married with the daughter of the Armenian King Tiridates and had two sons – Pap and Antiochus. In 341 A.D. he was elected as the Catholicos of All Armenians.

He resisted and challenged the will of King Tiran, who wished to hang the portrait of Julianus the Betrayer in a church. He was severely beaten, martyred, and was buried in the village of Tordan, province of Daranaghi.

Bishop Daniel Assyrian was famous for his saintly way of life. As he grew older he led an ascetic and isolated life in the province of Daron. Following the martyrdom of Housik, he was invited to be the Catholicos of All Armenians.

During the very first meeting with King Tiran, he strictly castigated him on the murder of the Pontiff Housik. The king summarily ordered the death of Daniel by strangulation. His remains are buried in the Monastery of Hatsyats Drahkt.

The sons and grandsons of St. Gregory the Illuminator are remembered and commemorated by all Armenian Churches throughout the world for their service to the Church, their faithfulness to Christianity, and their commitment to the Armenian people.

 

Commemoration of the Holy Forefather

Holy ForefatherThe Septuagint (first translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, made into popular Greek before the Christian era, III century B.C.) uses the name “Patriarch” when referring to the forefathers or ancestors of spiritual and lay leaders of the Old Testament. They are: Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Eliezer, Joshua, Samuel, Samson, Jephthah, Barak, Gideon, and other Holy Patriarchs.

The Church has classified our forefather Adam into the class of saints, confirming the truth that Christ’s saving blood was shed for each and every person, starting from the ancestor of all people. By means of the salvation of Adam, original sin is redeemed from all who have followed him, who repent, believe and are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, thus becoming members of the Church of Christ.

The word “Ancestor” is also synonymous with “Head of Tribe”. The Holy Forefathers, as heads of tribes, played a very important role. Many of them lived hundreds of years, and influenced their families and tribal members. Their minds and souls sustained a desire to become closer to divine existence and live a God-pleasing life. Feeling the presence of God, they advised, warned and taught the people to stay away from sinful ways. Due to their saintly way of life, they continue to be vivid examples for us. The ultimate goal of their lives was the realization of God’s omnipotent will on earth. Acting as mediators with God, they made relations between God and man closer and more sincere. In our present day and current times, their sacred desire to achieve justice and fairness is a valuable lesson for all.

 

Commemoration of Martyrdom of Sts. Antiochus the Bishop and his ten disciples and five martyrs

Աթանագինե եպիսկոպոսSt. Antiochus was born in Sebastia, to a Christian family in the third century A.D. In the book “The Life and Activity of the Saints” we learn that Antiochus defeats a mighty dragon through prayer and the use of his preaching staff, and frees the people of a small village. He is appointed by the Metropolitan of Sebastia to be the Bishop of the city of Pitacton, located in Armenia (Hayk) Minor. During the period of Roman the Emperor Diocletian’s persecutions of Christians, Bishop Antiochus and his ten disciples are brought before a court to stand trial. They all refuse to offer sacrifices to the pagan idols and are martyred by means of beheading.

St. Gregory the Illuminator’ wife, Mariam, was the sister of Antiochus. Upon Gregory’s return from Caesaria, he brings the relics of Bishop Antiochus and St. John the Forerunner (the Baptist) to Armenia and buries the relics in the Monastery of Glak, in the region of Ashtishat, Province of Taron.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and the 45 Martyrs, and the Virgins Justinia, Euphemia, and Christina

St. Cyprian, Bishop of CarthageBishop Cyprian has lived and acted in the 3rd century B. C. According to “Haysmavourk”, he was a noble prince and was very rich, wise and skilled in magic. In the town where he lived, Justinia, the daughter of a heathen priest, lived. Being Christian, she had converted her parents to Christianity. Receiving a heathen prince’s proposal to marry, she rejects him saying that she already is the bride of Christ. The prince asks for the support of the heathen priest Cyprian, but the latter, under the influence of the virgin, is baptized to be a Christian and soon after that being ordained a bishop, dedicates himself to the preaching mission. And the virgin Justinia is ordained to be a deaconess. During the persecution of Dekos Bishop Cyprian is exiled and beheaded. Virgin Justinia is also martyred.

The virgin Euphemia was born in a Christian family and she had made an oath not to marry and to dedicate all of her life to God. Together with her 45 companions she refuses to participate in the festivity in honor of one of the heathen gods and hides. However, being found and taken to the court the companions of Euphemia are swabbed and die immediately and Euphemia, after being subjected to severe torments is thrown to the beasts. Thanks to God’s protection and support she remains out of danger. But preferring to die being eaten by the beaSts. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, and the 45 Martyrssts than because of the human malice, she asks God her death and is martyred.

The virgin Christina was from Phoenicia. She was the governor’s daughter. Building a high tower and installing in the tower golden and silver idols, the governor wishes her daughter to become a magician. But Christina, by a divine inspiration comprehending the grandeur of Christianity and the triviality of heathen religion, breaks the idols into pieces, sells the gold and silver material and distributes the sum to the poor. Because of that deed she is subjected to severe torments and is martyred.

 

Commemoration of the Apostle Thaddeus and the Virgin Sandoukht

Թադեոս Առաքյալ 2 Սանդուխտ ԿույսSt. Thaddeus the Apostle and St. Sandoukht the Virgin are two of the most venerated saints in the Armenian Church, as the “Great Conversion” of the Armenian nation to Christianity is significantly connected with their names.

Following the Ascension of Christ, according to the Lord’s message: “Go then to all peoples everywhere and make them make them my disciples…”, Thaddeus departs for Edessa. There he preaches the Gospel, and among his numerous miracles, also heals the king of Osrhoene named Abgar. In the year 44 A.D., Thaddeus travels on to Armenia and enters the domain of the pagan King Sanatrouk. After preaching in various parts of Armenia, St. Thaddeus converts many to Christianity, who become the foundation for the Armenian Church. The Apostle Thaddeus, while in the region of Artaz, gains access to the royal palace and converts Princess Sandoukht, the daughter of the king, to Christianity.

The Armenian King Sanatrouk becomes aware of his daughter’s conversion and exhorts her to return to her native heathen religion, but his efforts are in vain. The enraged king imprisons both the Virgin Sandoukht and St. Thaddeus and subjects them to severe torments. Another effort is made to persuade the Virgin to give up Christianity by the governor of the royal palace, an Armenian prince. This effort only ends with the prince becoming a Christian as well. The king, able to bear no more, finally orders the death of the Apostle Thaddeus and his own daughter, Sandoukht. They are martyred together in Shavarshan, the summer residence of the royal family.

 

Commemoration of the Prophet Isaiah

Isaiah_SmallThe Prophet Isaiah is the first of the four major prophets of the Old Testament. He was born and spent almost his entire life in the city of Jerusalem, in the eight century B.C. The 66 chapters of the Book of Isaiah are considered to be an ocean of wealth, concerned with issues related to God, justice, sin, religion and various social ills. Being an educated and intelligent man, he was the spiritual guide to four kings of Jerusalem, expressing God’s will on many national matters. His book, written in an unsurpassed style and spirit, is the link between the Old and the New Testaments.

Isaiah is also called the “Evangelist Prophet” for his prophesizing on the coming of the Messiah – Jesus Christ. In the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 61, the prophet comes forth as a servant sent by the Lord’s Soul “to bring the good news to the poor and to take care of the desperate and hopeless.” Christ would later read the words of Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth, as He became the realization of that mission in the world (Luke 4:16-21). According to tradition, Isaiah was killed by particularly brutal means.

  Feast of Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Պայծառակերպություն 2The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the five main “Tabernacle” feasts of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church. It commemorates the transformation or the “transfiguration” that came over Jesus while He was praying. Christ’s face shone like the sun and his clothes became a radiant and gleaming white. The Apostles Peter, James and John witnessed that event which occurred on a high mountain named Tabor.

Evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke testify about the transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:1-12, Luke 9:28-36). “… As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun and his clothes were dazzling white. Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased – listen to him!” When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downward on the ground. Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus. (Matthew 17:2-8)

In the Armenian Church, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated 98 days following Easter. The Feast also is known by the common name of “Vardakas”. This day is associated with an old Armenian tradition of pouring water on one another. Some sources attribute the tradition as a remnant of an Armenian pre-Christian celebration. The Monday following the Feast is a Memorial Day.

 

Commemoration of the Tabernacle of Old Testament (or the Old Ark) and the Feast of the New Holy Church

Tabernacle of the Old Testament is the most sacred sanctity of the Old Testament, where the board of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s ornament crosier and the golden urn full of manna were kept. Christian Church is considered to be the prototype of the New Testament – that is – the Church of Christ. So, this feast has been included in the calendar to symbolize the mystery of eternity of the Church.

  Eve of the Fast of Transfiguration

This is the Sunday preceding the week prior to the fasting period preceding the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Transfiguration called in the Armenian Apostolic Church Fast of Transfiguration lasting from Monday to Friday. Saturday, the last day of the fasting period, is the eve of the feast, which means that that day people can eat fish and dairy products.

 

Commemoration of Christ’s twelve Apostles and thirteenth Apostle – St. Paul

apostles 12-iconTwelve Apostles elected by Our Lord Jesus Christ, were Christ’s disciples and first preachers of His doctrine, as well as the Incarnate Christ’s witnesses. “Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to drive out devil spirits and to heal every disease and every sickness.” (The Gospel according to Matthew 10:1).

These were the names of the twelve Apostles Simeon (called Peter), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Patriot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Later instead of Judas Iscariot Apostle Matthias was chosen, who was added to the group of eleven apostles.

Remaining faithful to Incarnate Christ’s last message the apostles went to all peoples everywhere and preached and taught the Commandments of Jesus, baptized them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, thus becoming the founders of the Christ’s Church. One of the greatest preachers of Christ’s commandments is Apostle Paul, who is recognized by the Christian Church as the thirteenth Apostle.

The section of the Bible called “The Acts of the Apostles” is dedicated to the apostles’ activity. And there are references on Apostle Paul’s preaching, his person and his activity in his 14 letters addressed to the church communities, established by himself, and individual Christians.

 

Commemoration of the Prophet Elisha

JeremiaProphet Elisha has lived in the IX century B.C. He was the disciple of the Prophet Elisha. 13 wonders are ascribed to the prophet Elisha and about those wonders it is told in the First and Second Books of the Holy Bible. Prophet Elisha has continued to work wonders even after his death. It is told in the Old Testament that a year after the prophet’s death the corpse of a dead man was thrown into Elisha’s tomb. As soon as the body came into contact with Elisha’s bones the man came back to life and stood up.

 
 
 

Commemoration of the Prophet Zechariah

Zechariah 1Zechariah is one of the twelve prophets of the Old Testament, and his book consisting of 12 chapters, is the largest among the books of the prophets. It is also called the “Book of Hope” and through it we learn of God’s Kingdom in Israel by means of the rebuilding of Solomon’s Temple.

Prophecies from Zechariah date back to approximately 518 B.C., when Zerubbabel and Joshua were rebuilding the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. It is there that Zechariah, as the prophet of the Lord, begins his mission among the Jews and actively supports the rebuilding of the Temple.

His prophecies are valuable not only for his visions, but also for his foretelling about the arrival of a Messiah – the Christ (Zechariah 9:9-10; 11:12-13; 12:10; 13:7; etc.). Zechariah has predicted the coming of Jesus Christ, His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, His crucifixion, His being pierced with a lance, His betrayal for thirty silver coins, etc. The Evangelists, writing about the events in the life of Christ, have often referred to the prophecies of Zechariah. According to St. Matthew the Evangelist, Zechariah the Prophet was murdered “between the Temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:35).

Zechariah’s teachings on behavior and spirit are vivid messages addressed to us all. According to them, neither effort nor means shall be spared for the construction or rebuilding of houses of prayer. For he writes that it is the temple that testifies for hope and faith, and the temple that guarantees national unity and perseverance.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Kalistratos and his 49 companions, and Lukianos the Priest

kallistratos_marturas_614St. Kalistratos was from the city of Chalcedon in Asia Minor. At the end of the third century, he was a captain serving in the Army of the Emperor Diocletian, who persecuted Christians. Kalistratos is imprisoned when he is found to be a Christian. He is placed in a sack and thrown into the sea. Through a Divine miracle, the captain is saved from death. Witnessing that their captain has been saved, 49 of his friends immediately convert to Christianity. Together, all 50 Christians are once again thrown to the sea, but once again God’s miraculous power saves them. They are finally pulled from the water and beheaded, thus meeting their deaths as martyrs.

Lukianos (Lucianus) the Priest, born in Samosata, is known as an eminent preacher of Christianity. He has been considered the head of the Antiochian School of Theology. Following his arrest, torture and lengthy imprisonment in the city of Nicomedia, he is martyred in 312 A.D. The edited version of the New Testament’s translation into Greek is ascribed to Lukianos, and is used through the present. St. John Chrysostom highly regarded him and his work.

 

Feast of the Discovery of St. Mary’s Box

xunkAccording to tradition, while en route to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage, two Greek princes come across a chest that once belonged to St. Mary. In Galilee, they see a large crowd gathered in front of a Jewish woman’s house. They inquire and find that the sick are being healed due to the inexplicable power of the chest. The princes bring the box to Constantinople and present it to the Patriarch, who places it in the Church of St. Mary. The Patriarch then establishes the Feast of the Discovery of St. Mary’s Box.

The Armenian Church celebrates this feast upon the order of the Catholicos Simeon from Yerevan, who accepted this tradition from the Greek Orthodox Church in the late 18th century.

 
Commemoration of Sts. Tiridates, King of Armenia, Queen Ashkhen and Princess Khosrovidoukht

Trdat the king_with_his_wife_Ashkhen_and_sister_Khosrovidukht_by_Naghash_HovnatanIn 287 A.D. Tiridates (Trdat), from the royal house of Arshakouni, assumes the throne which once belonged to his father and becomes Tiridates III, King of Armenia. His name is inextricably linked with the Patron Saint of the Armenian Church, St. Gregory the Illuminator. In 301 A.D. the king releases the Christian Gregory from imprisonment and proclaims Christianity to be the State Religion of Armenia. In doing so, the king becomes the greatest advocate of spreading Christianity throughout the country.

The names of Queen Ashkhen and the King’s sister, Khosrovidoukht are closely related to the Great Conversion of Armenia as well. Princess Khosrovidoukht’s vision of a cure for the King’s incurable illness causes St. Gregory the Illuminator to be liberated from the dungeon of the deep pit. Gregory then is free to begin the process of spreading the light of Christianity, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to Greek historian Agathangelos, the King, the Queen and the Princess meet St. Gregory upon his return from Caesarea, to where he had traveled to receive episcopal ordination. Following a period of fasting and preparation, Gregory baptizes the three of them. They are followed by the baptism of the royal court and the nobles of Armenia. Through the baptism by Gregory, Tiridates becomes the first king in the world to rule over a Christian country. History also reveals that Tiridates, Ashkhen and Khosrovidoukht personally participate in the construction of the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. The stones they used to build the cathedral were brought to Vagharshapat from the slopes of Biblical Mount Ararat.

 

Feast of the Holy Translators St. Sahak and St. Mesrop

Սբ Թարգմանչաց

Catholicos St. Sahak Partev and Archimandrite St. Mesrop (Vardapet) Mashtots are the founders of Armenian literature and ecclesiastical bibliography.

St. Sahak Partev was the elder son of Catholicos St. Nersess the Great, and the last Catholicos of the Armenian Church who descended from the lineage of St. Gregory the Illuminator. He became Catholicos of All Armenians in 387 A.D., and reigned for an astounding 52 years. Being talented in music, and educated in the rhetorical arts, philosophy and linguistics, St. Sahak greatly contributed to the development of Armenian national culture. He was the strongest advocate for the creation of an Armenian Alphabet, and became its chief patron. St. Mesrop Mashtots was born in 360 A.D. and studied the Greek and Persian languages from childhood. He initially served as a scribe in the royal court. Leaving secular life behind, he becomes a monk and lives an ascetic life. During his preaching of the Gospel, St. Mesrop feels the necessity to create a distinct Armenian Alphabet and to have the Holy Bible translated into Armenian. For in those years, the Bible was only available in Greek and Syriac. In Armenia, there once were ciphers, or symbols, which were used by the former pagan priests. Following the Great Conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity, the symbols fell into disuse, and the only remaining copy was in Mesopotamia with a bishop named Daniel the Syrian. Upon the order of King Vramshapouh, the symbols are brought to Armenia from Bishop Daniel. However, while teaching his new students by means of those symbols for a short period of time, Mesrop soon finds them to be lacking, as they were imperfect and defective. Together with his students he departs for Mesopotamia, and visits the cities of Antioch, Edessa, and Samosata, to conduct further research. In 404/405 A.D., St. Mesrop creates the Armenian Alphabet through Divine Grace. For the first time in the history of the nation, the Armenian people had a specific and distinctive alphabet.

Following the creation of the Armenian Alphabet, St. Sahak and St. Mesrop opened a school for translators in the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin). There they begin the translation of the Holy Bible into Armenian and did it so perfectly, that centuries hence the Armenian Translation is called the “Queen Translation of the Breath of God”. The first sentence translated from the Holy Bible is the opening verse of the Book of Proverbs: “To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding”. St. Mesrop Mashtots passed away in Vagharshapat, and was buried in his home village of Oshakan. According to tradition, during the entire journey of transferring the remains of

St. Mesrop to Oshakan, a canopy of light fell upon the pilgrims and accompanied them until they reached the tomb. The Church of St. Mesrop Mashtots, which exists to this day, was built over his grave.

 

Commemoration of the Prophet Daniel, and his Companions Sts. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

daniel 3The Prophet Daniel is one of the four great prophets of the Old Testament. Nearly all that is known concerning the Prophet is derived from the book ascribed to him, which dates back to the VII-VI centuries B.C.

Daniel, a young man who had been captured during the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah was taken to Babylon. There, he receives his education in Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s royal court. Soon after, due to his intellect and talents, he is given a high-ranking position in the king’s chancellery.

Daniel becomes famous when he rescues an innocent woman from the unfounded slander of two men. Having gained greater notoriety, Daniel interprets a dream had by King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel’s successes arise the envy of the other servants in the royal court. They accuse him of worshipping false gods and demand that the King imprison the prophet. Daniel is thrown into a den of lions. The following day, the king approaches the pit to mourn the death of his devoted and wise servant. He is surprised to hear the Prophet Daniel responding to his cries of sorrow. Daniel tells the king that God sealed the mouths of the lions to protect him from harm. Daniel continues, saying that he is innocent, and has not wronged the king by his worship of God. The king is overjoyed, and orders that Daniel be released from the lions’ den.

Three young men and companions of Daniel – Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, were also taken to Babylon. Upon their arrival they received new names – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and were raised and educated in the royal court together with the prophet and protected their faith. Once, during a solemn festival, as everyone worshipped King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down before it. The king orders the three men thrown into a blazing furnace for the disobedience. Instead of burning, however, they continue to render glory to God and are protected by an angel of heaven. Witnessing the miracle, the king releases the three young men, blesses them, and worships God as well.

 

Commemoration of Sts. Antoninus, Theophilus, Anicetus and Potinus

St. Antoninus AlexandriaThis day commemorates four saints of the Christian Church. St. Antoninus lived in Alexandria in the third century. He was arrested following his open declaration of being a Christian, and since he would not offer sacrifices to idols. He was subjected to severe torments and then thrown into a fire to be burned alive. He said to his captors prior to his death, “Remember that you have a soul given to you by God; see that you present it pure before the Lord.”

Deacon Theophilus from Libya was a successor to St. Stephen the Protomartyr. He was martyred during the reign of the idolater Emperor Maximianus, for his fearless preaching of the Christian Gospel.

Two noblemen from Nicomedia, Anicetus and his nephew Potinus, attending a ceremony of the reading of Emperor Diocletian’s persecutions which awaited Christians, boldly emerge from the crowd and loudly confess their faith before the Emperor. Following three years of imprisonment and cruel torture, they remain loyal to Christ. As a result, the blessed saints are burnt alive together with other martyrs.

 

Commemoration Day of the discovery of the Relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator

ՍԲ. ԳՐԻԳՈՐ ԼՈՒՍԱՎՈՐԻՉThe Commemoration Day of the discovery of the relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator is one of the three significant feast days dedicated to the memory of the Patron Saint of Armenia.

According to Holy Tradition, following Armenia’s conversion to Christianity, in his final years, St. Gregory led an ascetic life in the cave of Mane on the Mountain named Sepuh where he died in 326 A.D. Shepherds, finding his body, buried him not recognizing the Armenian Pontiff. One of his students, Garnik from Basen sees a vision, where Gregory identifies the location of his relics. The relics were thereupon transferred to the village of Tordan, in the province of Daranagh, and buried there.

The relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator are one of our most revered within the Armenian Church, as well as all Christian Churches. Following their discovery, some were taken to various places for safekeeping, among them Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), Byzantium, and Italy. The Right Hand of the Saint, preserved in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, is one of the most important sanctities of the Armenian Church, and is used by the Catholicos of All Armenians during the blessing of the Holy Chrism (Muron). To commemorate the day, Divine Liturgy is celebrated in our Churches.
 

Commemoration of Sts. Theodotus of Galatia, Thalelaus the Physician and seven martyred Virgins of Ancyra

272_VirginsSt. Theodotus from Galatia has been martyred as the result of persecutions by the King Dioklethianos. Being a wine tradesman, he seemed the persecutors to be less dubious, thanks to which he managed to help and support the persecuted Christians. He provided wine for the divine services, buried the remains of the martyrs. When upon the order of the prefect of Galatia seven Christian virgins – Tekousa, Alexandra, Kloida, Penna, Euprasia, Matrona and Judita, among whom was also the Aunt of Theodotus, were drowned, Theodotus, with the help of other Christians, manages to secretly bring out the virgins’ bodies from the water and bury them. However, his deed becomes known and persecutions against Christians become more severe. For saving the faithful Christians Theodotus surrenders to heathens and is beheaded after severe torments.

The same day is the day of commemoration of St. Thalelaus physician. Enduring the most severe torments, the blissed saint converts to his faith even the executioners. He is thrown into the see, but is miraculously saved from drowning and finally is martyred by means of beheading.
 

Commemoration of Sts. Constantine (Kostandianos) the Emperor and his mother Helen

st_astvatspashtutyamb-lusavorvats-kostandianos-tagavori-ev-nra-morheghine-taguhu-hishatakutyan-or-3366King Kostandianos (born in the city Nish, in Yugoslavia), is one of the most prominent figures of the Roman Empire. It was he who officially released the Church from persecutions lasting more than 250 years and in 313 A.D., by the Encyclical of Milan, proclaimed Christianity to be a permitted religion. It was during the period of his reign that the first Ecumenical Council of 325 A.D. was convened, which condemned Arius and adopted the word “Birth” to show that the Holy Son has the same nature as the Holy Father and is God. King Kostandianos has supported the construction of magnificent Churches and Cathedrals in the Holy Sites of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

King Kostandianos was also a renowned captain, who always won in the battles. According to the tradition, while at war with the impostor King Maxentios, before the decisive battle, he had the vision of the Holy Cross. With the sign of the Holy Cross he faced the battle and won. King Kostandianos passed away in 337 A.D., and at death’s door he was baptized according to the Christian rite.

Queen Helen, mother of the King Kostandianos, was the supporter of the king’s pious activity. The discovery of the wooden Holy Cross in 327 A.D. is ascribed to the Queen. A man named Judah, pointed out the Queen the site, where the wooden crosses of Christ and the two brigands could be. According to the tradition, for finding the Lord’s Holy Cross the pious queen approached the corpse of a young man to the crosses. The magic power of Christ’s Holy Cross raised the man from the dead and he revived. After the discovery of the Holy Cross the Pontiff Kyouregh of Jerusalem rose the cross for the faithful to see. Queen Helene has ordered to build numerous churches and nunneries in Jerusalem and around the city and brought her services there. Queen Helene passed away in 330 A.D.
 

Commemoration of Sts. Epiphanius the Cypriot, (Bishop of Cyprus) Babylas the Patriarch and his three Disciples

epiphanius-of-cyprusSt. Epiphanius the Cypriot (315-403 A.D.) is one of the famous Archimandrites of the Universal Church and in the Armenian Apostolic Church his memory is celebrated as one of the twelve archimandrites.

St. Epiphanius was born in Palestine. During his life he was known for his love and mercy towards the poor, his honest life and numerous literary works. He struggled against various heresies, in Egypt – against gnosticism, in Rome – against some theories of Vorogines. He was the greatest defender of orthodox doctrine and Nicene Creed. During the Bishop’s Council, convened in 367 A.D., he was elected to be the Chief Bishop of Cyprus.

St. Epiphanius has left rich literary legacy. He is the author of biblical interpretations, theological works, speeches, denials of sects, and the majority of his works have been translated also into Armenian still in the middle ages.

According to “Haysmavourk” Babylas was the Pontiff of Antioch (283-284 A.D.) and was known for his devotion and ascetic life. When King Noumerianos comes to Antioch and after offering a sacrifice to the pagan idols wishes to enter the Church of God and blaspheme it. But the Pontiff Babylas, meeting the King near the entrance to the Church, prohibits him to enter the church. The King, getting furious, puts the Pontiff into the prison and subjecting to torments, wishes to force him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Three young disciples of the Pontiff visit the prison, and the King imprisons them, too, and subjects to torments. However, the King’s efforts were in vain, as four of them all the time worshipped the only and true God. Finally, the Pontiff and his disciples are beheaded.
 

Eve of the Fast of St. Gregory the Illuminator

This is the Sunday preceding the week prior to the feast of Discovery of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s relic, in the 5th century, lasting from Monday to Friday.
 

Commemoration of St. Nersess the Great and St. Bishop Khad

Ներսես Մեծ 3St. Nersess the Great, Catholicos of All Armenians (353-373) is one of the most prominent Armenian Pontiffs. According to historical sources he is from the family and lineage of St. Gregory the Illuminator, and grandson of the Armenian Patriarch Houssik.

Following the death of Catholicos Paren I (of Ashtishat), Nersess is a chamberlain (chief attendant or steward) for the Armenian King Arshak. Although a layman at the time, he is found to be the most deserving candidiate for the throne of the Catholicos, and under the compulsion of the King is ordained as a priest, and consecrated as Catholicos. The Armenian Pontiff becomes the first great reformer of the Church and a renowned benefactor of his nation. Upon Nersess’ initiative, a National Ecclesiastical Council is convened in Ashtishat in 354. Upon his initiative, decisions are made which are intended to regulate and bring order to the spiritual-ecclesiastical life, based upon the defined moral principles of the family. Nersess the Great establishes numerous monasteries and schools. He builds hospices, residences and hospitals for the ill, homeless and the poor. The Catholicos was always with his flock. The Armenian people won the battle of Dzirav due to St. Nersess’ unceasing prayers for victory on a nearby mountaintop, as the war was being waged on the field below. For his devout activity Nersess the Great is also called the “Illuminator of Hearts”.

Bishop Khad was a supporter of Nersess the Great, and was instrumental in the implementation of the Catholicos’ initiatives and undertakings. Historian Pavstos Buzand identifies Bishop Khad as the coadjutor of the Armenian Pontiff, St. Nersess the Great.
 

Commemoration of St. Princes Sahak and Hovsep and St. Martyrs Sarkiss and Bagos

St. Sahak and St. Hovsep were the sons of the prince Kice. The prince Kice had married a Christian Armenian woman in Karin and had allowed her to maintain her Christian faith and to educate their sons in the spirit of Christian faith. However, some years later the authorities become aware of the two brothers’ being Christian, and as their father was Moslem, they are forced to adopt Islam. However, even despite their father’s exhorts to adopt Islam only fictively, Sahak and Hovsep remain unshaken in their faith and are decapitated in 808.

Roman noblemen Sarkiss and Bagos were high-ranking officials serving in the palace of Byzantine king. For refusing to participant in a heathen ceremony Sarkiss and Bagos were subjected to severe torments, and nevertheless remained loyal to the Christian faith. As the result of torments Bagos was martyred, and Sarkiss was imprisoned and decapitated in North Syria in 300.
 

Commemoration of St. Nooneh and St. Maneh

nune maneSt. Nooneh and St. Mane were two of the companions of St. Hripsime, who being persecuted by the King Dioklethianos, had left Rome and reached to Armenia. However, the nuns were not destined to die together with their companions.

Reaching Armenia together with her companions St. Mane left them and went to the Mountian Sepouh, in Ekeghyats region, where remaining isolated in a cave, lived an ascetic life. St. Mane lived an “angel’s life”, strengthened by means of prayers and divine consolation, and later the cave was called by her name “Mane’s cave”. Hagiographer presents interesting information concerning the last days of life of St. Maneh. During that same period St. Gregory the Illuminator also wished to leave the society and to live his last days in seclusion. With that goal he went to the Mountain Daraghanyats and chose as a place for living the same cave in which Mane was living an ascetic life. Approaching the cave, he heard the voice of the nun asking to return to the cave three days later. Respecting the wish of the nun, St Gregory returned to the cave three days later and finding the nun dead, buried her body in the cave in 323.

The nun St. Nooneh (in the Georgian sources Nino) escaping the persecutions of the Armenian King Tiridates, left for Georgia, the capital city of Metskhita. There she continued to live a prayerful life and preached the Gospel, as the result of which the entire nation was converted to Christianity. Becoming famous for the miracles she worked and for her philanthropic activity, Nooneh was taken to the royal palace, where she healed the sick queen. Refusing of all precious gifts, Nooneh continued preaching the Gospel. The Georgian King Mihran, immediately feeling the might of the unknown to him God, was converted to Christianity. The Gospel was preached also to the state officials of the country. As the result of all these events, upon the advice of Nooneh a delegation was sent to the Armenian Pontiff St. Gregory the Illuminator and the Armenian King Tiridates asking to send clergy for performing baptism and realizing spiritual service. Thus, St. Nooneh became the apostle of Georgia.

 

Commemoration of the Children of Bethlehem, Acacius the Witness, Movkima the Priest and Kotriatos the Soldier

Children of BethlehemIn the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we read about the slaying of the innocent children prior to the birth of Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:16-18). Men, who had come from the East to Jerusalem, spread the news of the birth of a “baby born to be the king of the Jews”. When this news reached Heron, King of Judea, he became very troubled. As a result of his jealousy and rage in not being able to locate the newborn baby, the King orders the death of all male children in Bethlehem who are two years old and younger. The blood of the innocent children became the first blood shed for the sake of Christ. The Armenian Church has dedicated many church hymns and songs to the memory of the Children of Bethlehem, and they are commemorated on the Monday following the Feast of the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.

The same day the Armenian Church celebrates the memory of three saints, martyred for the sake of Christianity – Acacius the Witness, Movkima the Priest and Kotriatos the Soldier.According to “Haysmavourk”, Acacius was martyred for the faith during the reign of the Emperor Likianos. Being subjected to indescribable torments and managing to survive surrounded by wild beasts, the saint was beheaded in 310 AD.

Movkima the Priest, Byzantine by birth, was the son of a high-ranking Christian officer. Being a devout preacher of Christianity, he was subjected to many torments by the governor of the city Ampipolis of Macedonia. Later, he was sent to Byzantium, where he was condemned to death by beheading. Emperor Constantine would later build a magnificent church over the tomb of the saint.

Kotriatos the Soldier was martyred as a result of persecutions by the pagan King Dekos. Considering himself to be a “servant of the Heavenly King”, the brave saint endured many tortures through the strength of his Christian faith and became an example for others to remain steadfast in times of trouble. Kotriatos was also put to death by beheading.
 

Feast of the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin

Etchmiadzin hravarvoxOne of the most celebrated feasts of the Armenian Church is the day when the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin was established, according to the inspired vision of St. Gregory the Illuminator.

According to tradition, and hagiographic sources, following the declaration of Christianity as the Official Religion of Armenia in 301 AD, St. Gregory has a famous vision, wherein the Only Begotten Son of God – Jesus Christ, descends from Heaven, his face lit aglow, and with the strike of a golden hammer designates the site where the Mother Cathedral for the entire Armenian nation is to be founded. Hence, the name of the spiritual center for the Armenians, “Etchmiadzin”, means “the Descent of the Only Begotten” (Etch – descent, mi – only, dzin – begotten.)

St. Gregory relayed the story about his vision to the Armenian King Tiridates, under whose royal auspices and support the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin was built. King Tiridates and Queen Ashkhen participated in the construction, as did the entire capital city of Vagharshapat by bringing stones from the biblical mountain of Ararat to lay the foundations. In the site marked by Christ, a Holy Altar of Descent was built. According of Patriarch Malachia Ormanian, from the days of her establishment, the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin has been the residence of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Thus, it is the Mother See of the Armenian Church, and as such, her universal, spiritual and administrative headquarters.

Another title bestowed upon the cathedral is “Catholic” – not to be confused with the Roman Catholic faith. Catholic is a Greek word meaning “Universal”. Theologically, the cathedral has been called “catholic” as a description of the catholicity (universality) of the Church.

The feast of the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin is celebrated 64 days following Easter. A Divine Liturgy is celebrated, and during services, a special hymn is sung, written by the eighth century Catholicos Sahak of Dzorap, telling of St. Gregory’s vision and the Cathedral’s construction.

 

Feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s deliverance from the pit

st_surb-grigor-lusavorich-hayrapeti-mahy-ev-nshkharneri-gyuty-6802In the year 301 AD, the deliverance of St. Gregory the Illuminator from the pit, was the catalyst that began the “Great Conversion” of Armenia from the darkness of paganism to the Light of Christianity.

Following the martyrdom of the Christian nuns, led by St. Hripsime and St. Gayane, upon the order of the Armenian pagan King Tiridates, the ruler becomes seriously ill. The sister of the king, Khosrovidoukht, has a dream where it is revealed to her that the only remedy for the king’s condition is to free St. Gregory, still imprisoned in the dungeon, and that he alone could cure the malady. Thirteen years following his imprisonment in the “deep pit” of Artashat, the royal court submits to the request of Khosrovidoukht and frees the Christian Gregory. With the intercession of Gregory’s prayers, the king recovers, Gregory becomes the patron saint of the Armenian Church, and Tiridates, and his wife – Queen Ashkhen, become ardent supporters in Gregory’s efforts to preach Christianity throughout Armenia, and baptize the Armenian nation.

Pagan temples and statues are destroyed in Armenia, and replaced with Dominical Crosses in their locations. Christianity is proclaimed by the King and the Catholicos to be the state religion of Armenia, the first nation in the world to do so. St. Gregory is sent to Caesarea, where he is consecrated as the first Pontiff of the Armenian Church, and becomes the first Catholicos of All Armenians.

The feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s Deliverance from the Pit is one of the greatest of the Armenian Church. A solemn Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all Armenian Churches on this day.
 

Commemoration of St. John the Forerunner (the Baptist) and Bishop Atanagine

Սուրբ ՀովհաննեսThe Armenian Church commemorates the day when the relics of St. John the Forerunner (the Baptist) and Bishop Atanagine were transferred to Armenia. Mariam, the wife of St. Gregory the Illuminator, had a brother named Atanagine. He was the Bishop of Pitacton, and died while defending the faith. After his consecration in Caesarea, St. Gregory brought the relics of St. John and Bishop Atanagine to Armenia, and buried them in locations named Innaknya and Bagavan, in the region of Ashtishat, and built martyriums in those sites. After baptizing King Tiridates and the royal court in 301 AD, St. Gregory the Illuminator celebrated Divine Liturgy and gave instructions that the memories of the St. John and Bishop Atanagine should be commemorated on that specific day of every year instead of the feast of Vanatour, the pagan god of the New Year.
 

Commemoration of St. Gayane and her Companions

In the Armenian Apostolic Church on the days of the feasts dedicated to the memory of St. Gayane and her companions Սբ. Գայանեa Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all Armenian Churches. On the eve of the feast ceremonies are held, which start after the evening service, and Church hymns and songs, dedicated to the nuns, are sang. St. Gayane lived during the period of the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletianus (284-305 years) who subjected Christians to persecutions. She was one of the 37 nuns who left Rome for Armenia. During the first 20 years of his reign Diocletianus didn’t persecute Christians despite his being heathen. However, since 303, under the pressure of Caesar Galerius, he subjected Christians to severe persecutions. He issued 4 edicts against Christians which envisaged Christians’ removal from the army, confiscation of church property, first of all buildings and ritual books, church servants’ arrest and capital punishments, subjecting Christians to torments pursuing the goal to make them to give up their beliefs and faith. Persecutions agitated the whole empire, Christians were martyred for the sake of Christ. It was during this difficult period that Gayane and her companions left Rome. Diocletianus informed about it the Armenian King Tiridates suggesting him either to return one of the nuns – Hripsime, or to get married to her. Becoming aware of the nun’s story, himself wished to get married to Hripsime. King’s servants searched and found Hripsime and started to convince her to obey the king’s will who was captivated by her dazzling beauty and wished to get married to her. Hripsime rejected him saying that she as well as the other nuns had already become the bride of Christ and couldn’t marry. Becoming angry, the king ordered to subject her and the other nuns to severe torments. Her tongue and womb were cut, eyes were put out and her body was dismembered. Abyss Gayane and two of the nuns also were subjected to severe torments for encouraging Hripsime to endure tortures for the sake of Christ. Executioners pierced their feet, hang them, tore off their skin, cut their abdomens and afterwards beheaded them. The remaining 33 nuns were put to sword and parts of their bodies were thrown to the beasts for eating.

Nine days later St. Gregory the Illuminator found the relics of the nuns and burying the relics, built martyriums in those sites, where in the future the Monasteries of St. Hripsime, St. Gayane and St. Shoghakat were erected.
 

Commemoration of St. Hripsime and her Companions

Սբ ՀռիփսիմեNoble Hripsime was one of the 37 Christian nuns who together with the Abyss Gayane lived during the period of the reign of the Roman King Diocletianus (284-305 years) in the Monastery of St. Paul located in the mountains of Rome.

Pretty Hripsime captivated the King by her dazzling beauty, who wished to get married to her. Disobeying the king, the pious nuns, led by their Abyss Gayane, ran away from Alexandria. According to the tradition, Holy Godmother appeared to them and told them to leave for the Araratian country – Armenia. So, the nuns went to Vagharshapat. On their way, passing by the Mountain of Varague, Hripsime buried in the earth a relic from the wooden Holy Cross, which she always had on her neck. The relic was found by a miracle in the 7th century and since then the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varague started to be celebrated in the Calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Church along with the other feasts dedicated to the Holy Cross.

The Armenian King Tiridates, becoming aware of the nun’s story, himself wished to get married to Hripsime. Hripsime was brought to the palace, and Gayane was also brought to the palace to convince Hripsime to obey the King. But even in that way the King did not manage to get married to Hripsime and becoming angry, ordered to kill all the nuns. Nine days later St. Gregory the Illuminator found the relics of the nuns and burying the relics, built martyriums in those sites, where in the future the Monasteries of St. Hripsime, St. Gayane and St. Shoghakat were erected.

Nuns’ mardyrdom is a turning point in the history of the Armenian nation. After their martyrdom St. Gregory the Illuminator was brought out of the pit after more than 13 years’ imprisonment to spread the light of Christ in Armenia.

In the Armenian Apostolic Church on the days of the feasts dedicated to the memory of St. Hripsime and her companions a Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all Armenian Churches. On the eve of the feast ceremonies are held, which start after the evening service, and Church hymns and songs, dedicated to the nuns, are sang.
 

Commemoration of the Prophet Elijah

Prophet EzekielProphet Elijah is one of the major prophets of the Old Testament, distinguished for his loyalty to the Lord, for his zealous struggle against idolatry spread in Israel by the apostate king Ahab and his idolatrous wife, Queen Jezebel.

Prophet Elijah lived in the IX century B.C. In the First Book of Kings (17-18) and the Second Book of Kings (1-2) is told about the activity of the Prophet Elijah. Evangelists also mention the name of the Prophet Elijah.

In the First Book of Kings it is told that being the true herald of the Word of God Elijah, by the Lord’s will appeared before the apostate king Ahab and warned about the upcoming drought. His prophecy came true and after three years the Prophet again went to the king Ahab. Proving the weakness of the idolatrous, Prophet Elijah prayed God asking to send down fire for the sacrifice and a heavy rain. It is also told that thanks to the divine grace the Prophet Elijah helped the widow in Zarephath making so that her bowl wouldn’t run out of flour and her jar wouldn’t run of oil, also restored the widow’s dead sun to life.
 

Feast of Pentecost

Հոգեգալուստ 2The Feast of Pentecost is the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles on the fiftieth day following the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Armenian Church celebrates this feast 50 days following Easter Sunday.

The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons in the Holy Trinity coexisting with, and equal to, the Holy Father and the Holy Son. During His earthly life and ministry Christ spoke to the Apostles about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Recording the words of Christ, St. John writes, “The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.” (John 14:26).

The descent of the Holy Spirit is described in the Acts of the Apostles: “When the day of the Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. (Acts 2:1-4).

In the book of Acts, St. Luke further records the names of various countries, and that men from those countries were surprised, when each of them heard his native language. Among the mentioned places are Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia (Acts 2:9). Two of the saints of the Universal Church, both of Roman origin, Tertullian and Augustine, have written that the word “Armenia” should possibly be substituted instead of “Judea”, as it is more logical that Armenia would be mentioned among those as a “foreign” country, as the apostles were living in Judea. Moreover, with regards to geographical position, Armenia was situated between Mesopotamia and Cappadocia. Therefore, the people living in Armenia may have been among the first witnesses of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Among the Armenian Church songs and hymns, two are dedicated to the Feast of Pentecost: “The Sent Dove” (referring to the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove that descended upon Christ during His Baptism) and “Indivisible Trinity”. These are sung during the Morning Service on the feast day. Also, during the Evening Service, the “Andastan” rite of the blessing of the four corners of the world is conducted. It is during this service that a prayer written by 12th century Armenian Church father Nerses of Lambron, is read.

In the Christian Church the teaching of divine grace is related to the Holy Spirit. According to that instruction, each virtue is a divine grace granted to the faithful by the Holy Spirit. Thus, ascribing any virtue to one’s own self, and not to God, is a grave sin and can be manifested in another, which is pride. Hence, commemoration of Pentecost is also an appeal to the faithful to avoid pride and instead, use the divine graces in life for righteous purposes and moral goals.

One of the four season fasting periods defined by the Armenian Apostolic Church is the fasting period preceding the beginning of summer. This fasting period, as well as the other ones preceding the other seasons of the year, is not preparation for any feast, and according to the tradition is called Elijah’s fast, as coincides the feast of commemoration the Prophet Elijah the next Sunday.

This fasting period preceding the beginning of summer starts the day following the feast of Pentecost (the flesh day preceding the fast is the Sunday, when the feast of Pentecost is celebrated). With the change of the Easter Feast day the beginning of the fasting period may be during the period May 11-June 14. Like the other fasting periods preceding the other seasons of the year, this one also lasts five days – from Monday till Friday.
 

Second Palm Sunday

FB_IMG_1462796954492On the Sunday following the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, the Armenian Church celebrates “Second” Palm Sunday. The name of the feast has been derived from Palm Sunday, which precedes Easter. In the week leading up to His betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection, the “first” Palm Sunday symbolized the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem where people met Him with great joy and glorified His Holy Name. The Second Palm Sunday is the commemoration of the triumphant entry of the Ascended Christ into the Heavenly Jerusalem, where the angels meet him with great happiness and delight. According to tradition, during St. Gregory the Illuminator’s imprisonment in the pit, he was visited every day by the same angel. However one day, the angel did not come. The following morning, St. Gregory inquires to the reason for his absence, to which the angel responds that during the Ascension, Christ had passed through the ranks of the Angels, and they celebrate that feast each year. The angel visiting St. Gregory was from the fourth class of angelic hosts, and thus, on the fourth day following the Ascension, his rank of angels commemorates and celebrates Christ’s Ascension to heaven every year. St. Gregory of Datev, one of the greatest theologians of the Armenian Church, has a famous interpretation of this event. Prior to His Ascension, the ranks of angels, except for the lowest class, who served Christ during His earthly life, were not aware of Christ’s incarnation for the salvation of man. St. Gregory’s commentary states that when the Lord was passing through the ranks of angels, they were surprised and asked, “Who was that powerful king?” The angels accompanying Christ thus informed them. This dialogue of angels is presented in the Holy Bible, in the book of Psalms:

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.” “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.” “Who is this King of glory?” “The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.” (Psalms 24:7-10).

The angelic dialogue is exhibited for us, when it is heard during the Divine Liturgy, as the deacon approaches the celebrant priest with the chalice during the Great Entrance (Verapehroom).

Second Palm Sunday is one more reminder of the Ascension of Christ and grants us the hope for ascending to heaven after our deaths, and being in the bliss of God’s presence.