This feast is the first one among the three commemoration days dedicated to the memory of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the first Catholicos of All Armenians. According to the Armenian Church Calendar, it is celebrated on the eve of the Fifth Sunday during the period of Great Lent. The feast is dedicated to the torments which St. Gregory suffered during his imprisonment.
According to historical sources, St. Gregory the Illuminator was the son of Anak Partev, a knight and nobleman, who killed the Armenian King Khosrov Arshakouni. In retaliation, Anak is executed by the Armenians. His son, Gregory, lived and studied in Caesarea, and was brought up as a pious Christian. Gregory returned to Armenia as an adult and became a member of the royal court. King Tiridates (Trdat), the son of King Khosrov and heir to the throne, appointed Gregory as the Chancellor of the Armenian Kingdom. Tiridates, learning that Gregory is a Christian and the son of Anak, subjected him to severe tortures and committed Gregory to death, by imprisoning him in a deep underground pit.
In 301 A.D., after spending 13 years in the pit, St. Gregory the Illuminator was freed from the dungeon and emerged to spread the Light of Christ in Armenia. He thus became the first pontiff of the Armenian Church, baptised the royal family, and evangelised the whole of the Armenian Nation.
Armenia became the first nation in the world to officially proclaim Christianity as her state religion.
St. Gregory the Illuminator is recognised by all of Christendom as a Saint and he is commemorated in all traditional Christian Churches.