In 287 A.D. Tiridates (Drtad), from the royal house of Arshakouni, assumed the throne which once belonged to his father and he became 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 released the Christian Gregory from imprisonment in the pit and proclaimed Christianity to be the State Religion of Armenia. In doing so, he became the greatest advocate of the spread of Christianity throughout the country.
The names of Queen Ashkhen and the King’s sister, Khosrovitoukht are closely related to the Great Conversion of Armenia as well. Princess Khosrovitoukht’s vision of a cure for the King’s incurable illness resulted in the deliverance of St Gregory the Illuminator from the pit. St Gregory was then free to begin the process of spreading the light of Christianity, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
According to Greek historian Agathangelos, St Gregory baptised the King, the Queen and the Princess upon his return from Caesarea, where he had travelled to receive episcopal ordination. St Gregory then baptised the the royal court and the nobles of Armenia. Through the baptism by St Gregory, Tiridates became the first king in the world to rule over a Christian country. History also reveals that Tiridates, Ashkhen and Khosrovitoukht personally participated 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.
All three helped St Gregory spread Christianity throughout Armenia. In their later years the Queen and Princess lived in the fortress of Garni and the King retired to St Gregory’s retreat on Mount Sebouh.