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

In 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.

 

The first Christian State in the World.
 
One of the most crucial events in Armenian history was the conversion to Christianity. By adopting the new religion, Armenia established a distinct Christian character of its own and, at times, became identified with the Western world. King Tiridates III (Trdat), having been converted by Gregory the Illuminator, proclaimed Christianity as the religion of the state in 301 A.D. Thus, Armenia became the first nation to embrace Christianity officially. This was 12 years before the Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan which declared tolerance of Christians in the Roman Empire.

Gregory the Illuminator, later canonized, was elected Catholicos of the new Armenian national Church, the first in a long line of such clergy to he elected supreme head of the Armenian Church.

The creation of the Armenian alphabet in 405 A.D. solidified the unifying factor of the Armenian language for the divided nation.

Mesrop Mashtots, a scholar and clergyman, shaped the thirty six letters (three characters were added later) that distinguished Armenia, linguistically and liturgically, from the powers surrounding it. The alphabet representing the many distinct consonants of Armenian has remained unchanged for 1500 years.
 

 

 

The Pitt and Mt Ararat in the background
Khor Virap (The Pit)

Inside the Pitt - Altar
Inside the Pit (Praying Altar)

   
 

Gregory the Illuminator -  Newadvent.org

St. Gregory the Illuminator
St Gregory

St. Gregory the Illuminator

St. Gregory the Illuminator @ the Vatican

   
   
St Gregory the Illuminator in The Vatican

St. Gregory the Illuminator - Vatican

St. Gregory the Illuminator - Vatican

St. Gregory the Illuminator - Vatican

  Pope John Paul II  
 
St. Gregory the Illuminator - Vatican   Dates celebrated

24.05.2008
13.06.2009
05.06.2010
25.06.2011
09.06.2012
01.06.2013
21.06.2014
06.06.2015
28.05.2016
17.06.2017
02.06.2018
22.06.2019
13.06.2020
05.06.2021
18.06.2022
10.06.2023
01.06.2024
21.06.2025
06.06.2026
29.05.2027
17.06.2028
02.06.2029
22.06.2030
 

St Gregory The Illuminator Statue in The Vatican

 
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