Some Facts about St. Gregory the Enlightener of Armenia and Armenian Church

On September 30 (October 13), the Church commemorated a great saint, a missioner and confessor, a bishop of Christ’s Church – St. Gregory, the enlightener of the Armenian people. Thanks to his confessional feat and his work on the field of Christ, the whole people turned to the faith in Jesus Christ. For 2 centuries, Armenian Orthodox Church supported the Eucharistic communion with other local Orthodox Churches. However, unfortunately, it could not accept the doctrines of the 4th Ecumenical Council and this is why for more than 1500 years is does not have the Eucharistic communion with the Orthodox Church.
Below we will mention some interesting facts about the Armenian Orthodox Church and its founder – St. Martyr Gregory.
1) Gregory was of the family of Parthian kings. His father killed his own relative – the king of Armenia – for authority and the whole tribe of the future enlightener of Armenia was killed for that. Gregory himself was rescued by another relative of him, who later brought him to Caesarea of Cappadocia, where Gregory was baptized and raised in Christian faith.
2) To make amends for what his father had done, Gregory decided to come back to his homeland and join the service at the court of king Tiradath, the son of the killed Armenian king so that he could be his servant. 
3) King Tiridath could not stand the Christian faith of his servant and was the one who ordered to throw Gregory into the moat, where he spent 14 years. He ate there the food that one good woman brought to him.
St. Gregory sitting in the moat
4) King Tiridath killed a saint virgin Ripsimia, abbess Gaiania and 35 virgins, after which he lost his mind and could find the cure only through his repentance, to which we was called by St. Gregory.
5) Armenia is the first country in the world’s history that accepted Christianity as its state religion.
6) The Head of the Armenian Church – Catholicos, who has full power. He is the only cleric who can ordain bishops. Other bishops can only assist him during the ordination. The elected catholicos takes his position until his death.  
Catholicos Krekin II and Patriarch Kirill
7) Bishops can be chosen only from among single unmarried priests who have a science degree.
8) Before to become a servant, a married priest has to be married at least for a year and has a child.
9) In Armenian Church, the rank of archimandrite is not a position, but a science degree, which can be accepted only by the unmarried clerics.
10) Following an ancient Christian tradition, Armenian Christians celebrate the Nativity of Christ and the baptism of the Lord on one and the same day, which is January 6, and call it the feast of the “Epiphany”.
11) The Armenians use unleavened bread for Eucharist and do not dilute wine with water.
12) Armenian Church did not accept the Council of Chalcedon largely owing to the war against Persia as well as due to the fact that the Byzantine Empire itself denied the Council of Chalcedon back then, and the Armenian Church followed the Byzantine. However, later the Byzantine Empire would accept the decisions of the Council, while the Armenians would not.
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  1. Seems to me that this article is downplaying the differences between orthodox churches "does not have the Eucharistic communion with the Orthodox Church" and the statement that it "could not accept the doctrines". It mentions the political standpoint of the war in Persia but does not note the dogmatic differences.

    The superficial theological milieu of our era has proven most advantageous for ecumenical ideology, which seeks to gloss over the fundamental and abiding differences which distinguish the heterodox confessions from the Orthodox Faith. All too often, such differences are now conveniently dismissed as merely long-standing miscommunications of alternative, yet equally valid, terminological emphases. This perfunctory approach has been eagerly employed by Orthodox modernists in their theological dialogues with the so-called "Oriental Orthodox" churches. The designation "Oriental Orthodox" itself clearly illustrates the ecumenistic tendency to obfuscate essential theological differences with euphemisms. This deceptive appellation, popularized by the defective world view of Western Christian thought—a world view which lumps together such mutually exclusive ecclesiastical entities as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East (i.e., Nestorians), "Oriental Orthodox" churches, and Eastern Rite Papists (i.e., Uniates, such as Melkites and Maronites) under the umbrella term "Eastern Christians"—, masks the intransigent heresies held for centuries by three main groups: 1) Armenians, 2) Copts and Ethiopians (Abyssinians), and 3) Syrian and Malabarese Jacobites.

    The adjective Oriental is synonymous with the adjective Eastern. There is thus no real distinction between the term Eastern Orthodox (which identifies the only True Church) and the term "Oriental Orthodox" (which denotes several false churches). More importantly, although the "Oriental Orthodox" have appropriated the title Orthodox for themselves (e.g., the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, etc.), it was precisely their failure to embrace the Christology of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in 451 that led to their departure from the domain of Orthodoxy to the hinterlands of heresy. They are therefore correctly and accurately designated either as Non-Chalcedonians, reflecting their rejection of this Divinely-inspired Ecumenical Synod, or Monophysites, characterizing their specific heterodox confession of Christianity.

    These three groups of Non-Chalcedonians are united in their common profession of Monophysitism, as well as its logical consequents, Monotheletism and Monoenergism—the doctrines that in Christ there are, respectively, only one nature, one will, and one energy. The Fourth Ecumenical Synod anathematized Monophysitism, the Fifth Ecumenical Synod confirmed this decision, the Sixth Ecumenical Synod condemned Monotheletism and Monoenergism, and the Seventh Ecumenical Synod reaffirmed all of the foregoing. Therefore, in addition to being Non-Chalcedonians, the "Oriental Orthodox" are also Non-Second Constantinopolitans, Non-Third Constantinopolitans, and Non-Second Nicaeans. Their unyielding opposition to four of the seven Ecumenical Synods makes it not just a little difficult for us to consider the Monophysite churches Orthodox. After all, even the Latins, not to mention some Protestants, ostensibly abide by all seven of the Ecumenical Synods, and they are never referred to as "Orthodox" churches.

    To bear the name Orthodox, one must confess—without equivocation—the Ecumenical Christology of the Catholic and Apostolic Tradition: Jesus Christ united without confusion within His Own Hypostasis His Divine Nature and His Human Nature, His Divine will and His Human will, and His Divine energy and His Human energy. There is no room here for semantic sidestepping

  2. Dear brother or sister in Christ, thank you very much for your comment. The idea of the article was quite simple, just to show some interesting peculiarities of the Armenian christian tradition, without going into the deep christology and ecclesiology and the differences between us. However, thank you so much for your interesting comments and for paying attention to this article

  3. The Armenian Church and the Armenian People have a rich, glorious and beautiful tradition, culture and heritage.

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