It is a sequence of lessons we learn as young Armenians to understand how Christianity became such an integral part of our national identity.

Starting in the footsteps of Christ’s Apostles, St Thaddeus and St Bartholomew sharing the gospel in Armenia in the first century, the events begin to unfold only a couple of centuries later  with the two virgins, St Hripsime and St Gayane and their companions who became the earliest martyrs in Armenia for the sake of their steadfast devotion to God.

Their story intertwined with St Gregory the Illuminator form the great story of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity.

Earlier this week the Armenian Apostolic Church observed the commemoration of the heroines and on the weekend will mark the Feasts of St Gregory’s Deliverance from the Pit on Saturday and the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin on Sunday.

Our Patron Saint & the Mother Cathedral

St Gregory’s deliverance from the deep pit comes after 13 years of imprisonment as he alone is deemed to remedy King Tirdates from his incurable illness. With the intercession of his 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 baptise the Armenian nation.

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 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 centre for the Armenians, “Etchmiadzin”, meaning “the Descent of the Only Begotten” (Etch – descent, mi – only, dzin – begotten.)

Click on the image to watch a video Bread & Salt: Strength of Heart
Produced by the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America