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Gregory

armenia, christianity, king and tiridates

GREGORY, Saint, of Armenia, surnamed THE ILLUMINATOR (GREGOR LUSAVORITCH ), the apostle and patron saint of Armenia: b. Valar shabad, Armenia, about 257; d. in the wilder ness of Upper Armenia, 332 or shortly there after. Modern Armenians venerate as a liter ary heritage of the Illuminator a collection of discourses and epistles belonging probably to a time subsequent to 450. The chief source for the life of Gregory and one of the most famous works of Armenian literature is the work of Agathangelos, honored among the Armenians as the first historian of their nation. The author no doubt takes his name from the fact that he brings the (glad tidings* of the intro duction of Christianity into Armenia. He claims to have written his book by order of King Trdat (Tiridates) III, not from earlier accounts, but as an eye-witness of the events described. The Armenian text itself does not go back beyond about 450, although it preserves fragments of two older writings. Really his torical details, worthy of credence, are unfor tunately put side by side with legendary cumstances, unworthy of belief. It seems that Gregory, while an infant, was conveyed by Christian nurse from Armenia to Cgsarea Cappadocia to escape being slain with his family for the crime of his father, a Parthian named Anak, who had assassinated Chosrov I, king of Armenia. When be reached manhood

he married a Christian lady of Caesarea, who after bearing him two sons retired to a monas tery. Thereupon Gregory entered the services of Chosrov's son, Tindates III, who, with the help of the Romans, had recovered his father's throne. Tiridates imprisoned him for 14 year in a deep pit, for refusing to perform an act of idolatrous worship, whereupon the tyrant was punished by a horrible temper and his people were plagued. Gregory cured both, con verting the king to Christianity: About 302 Gregory was consecrated bishop and catholicos of Armenia by Leontius of Cgsarea. Tiridates established Christianity as the national religion of Armenia as Constantine did several years later for the Roman Empire. In 331 Gregory retired into solitude and died shortly there after. The Armenians, the Syrians and the Byzantine Church keep his feast on 30 Septem ber; 1 October is his feast in the Roman calen dar. Consult Davidson, Lionel, 'Gregorius (7), St., The Illuminator' (in Smith and Wace,