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E00120: Łazar P'arpec'i's History of Armenia, written in Armenian in c. 500, describes invocation of *Gregory the Illuminator (converter of Armenia, S00251), the use of his relics, and a miracle performed through him, during campaigns by the Armenians against the Persians in the 450s.

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posted on 31.10.2014, 00:00 by naleksidze
Łazar P'arpec'i, History of Armenia, Book 2, Chapter 29

Łazar recounts the Armenian rebellion against the Persians of 451 under the leadership of Vardan Mamikonean, and the ultimate crushing of the uprising.

Արդ` եկեալ հասանէին տանուտեարքն Հայոց հանդերձ սեպհաւքն որ ընդ ինքեանս` յաշխարհս Հայոց, ողջք եւ ոչ ողջք, կենդանի կիսամեռք. որք ոչն տեսանէին ըստ յառաջ լուսաւոր եկիցն ողջամբ յայնպիսի հեռաւոր ճանապարհէ։ 2 Եւ ելեալ ընդ առաջ նոցա դասք պաշտաւնէիցն Քրիստոսի, բերելով ընդ ինքեանս զնշան կենսատու խաչին եւ զնշխարս սրբոյ առաքելանման նահատակին Գրիգորի, զձայն սաղմոսաց, զորս երգեաց մարգարէն Դաւիթ սուրբ Հոգւոյն շնորհիւ.

'When the Armenian magnates and the nobles in their company reached Armenia, half-alive and half-dead, they did not seem in such health as on their earlier splendid return from that distant journey. Groups of Christ’s ministers came to meet them, bearing with them the sign of the life-giving cross and the relics of the holy apostle-like martyr, Gregory, and singing psalms which the prophet David had composed by the grace of the holy Spirit - in singing which [the nobles] themselves too had once joined, chanting these canticles with even greater heavenly joy and delight than the ministers. But now one could hear the sound of weeping and the sound of lamentation, the cry of mourning and the noise of wailing.'

Book 3, Chapter 68

This episode describes the preparation for another battle with the Persians, some years later, led by Vardan's son, Vahan Mamikonean, which ultimately led to Armenian victory.

Եւ մտեալ նոցա յեկեղեցին` երկիր պագանէին տեառն Աստուծոյ եւ արարչին ամենայնի եւ զաւրացուցչի, եւ խնդրէին ի նմանէ առաքել աւգնականս ընդ նոսա զճգնութիւն սուրբ նահատակին Գրիգորի եւ զամենայն սրբոց եւ զարդիս նահատակելոց քրիստոսասիրացն Հայոց, եւ զզաւրութիւն սուրբ խաչին։ 8 Եւ Փրկչին Քրիստոսի գթացեալ մարդասիրապէս եւ հայեցեալ յարժանաւոր խնդրուածս նոցա` առաքէր ընդ նոսա աւգնականս զոր խնդրեցին ի նմանէ, եւ յուղարկէր խաղաղութեամբ։ 9 Երկիր պագանէին նախարարքն եւ ամենայն արք զաւրուն որք ընդ նոսայն էին` եւ հրեշտակակրաւն սրբոյ կաթողիկոսին Յոհանայ, որոյ նպարակեալ յուղարկեաց զնոսա իւր ստոյգ եւ արդար ոգւոյն աւրհնութեամբ ի գործ պատերազմին։

'Entering the church they worshipped the Lord God, who created and gives strength to all. They implored him to send them as support the mortifications of the holy martyr Gregory and of all the saints, and the virtues of the Christ-loving Armenian martyrs, and the power of the holy cross. The Saviour Christ had benevolent compassion; looking down on their worthy supplications, he sent them the support they had requested from him, and dismissed them in peace. The nobles and all the soldiers with them did obeisance to the holy and angelic Katholikos Yohan, who bestowed on them the blessing of his upright and righteous soul, and sent them off to battle.

Book 3, Chapter 76

This episode recounts tactical movements of the Armenian and Persian forces and negotiations between Vahan Mamikonean and the Persian general Mihran. Rather unexpectedly, Mihran was ordered to quit negotiations and to return back to Iran. He took with him as hostage Hrahat, the brother of lord Nerseh Kamsarakan, together with a certain nobleman called *Yazd, who was later martyred for his faith (E00105). Hrahat's brother Nerseh followed the Persian army, attempting to find a suitable moment to free his brother. The moment arrived when they passed near the chapel of Gregory the Illuminator at Bagawan.

Եւ երթեալ բազում անգամ աւթս զհետ, եւ ոչ ինչ կարացեալ գտանել հնարս, եւ մերձեալք որպէս թէ աւթեւանաւ միով ի սուրբ տեղի տան նահատակին Գրիգո րի ի գեաւղն որ անուանեալ կոչի Բագաւան, եւ տեսեալ Կամսարականին Ներսեհի զտեղին նահատակին Գրիգորի, եւ յիշելով զտրտմակցութիւն սրբոց ընդ վշտացեալս, եւ զհամարձակութիւն սրբոյ առն Գրիգորի առ Աստուած` ձայն սաստիկ բարբառոյ հանդերձ արտասուաւք արձակեալ առ այրն Աստուծոյ` աղաղակեաց ասե լով. «Տէ՛ր Գրիգոր, որ զսաստիկ մէգ ամբարշտութեանն մեղաց մերոց մերժեալ փարատեցէր յաշխարհէս Հայոց, փարատեա՛ եւ զիմ սաստիկ մէգս տրտմութեանս ի սրտէս, եւ շնորհեա՛ ինձ զանձկալի զեղբայրն իմ տեսանել առողջ առ իս. քանզի հնարաւոր է Աստուծոյ ամենայն, եւ զքո խնդիր քաջ ախորժելով կամի լսել եւ կատարէ»։ Եւ այսպէս մեծաձայն բարբառով եւ ողբալով աղաղակեաց Կամսարականն Ներսեհ առ այրն Աստուծոյ Գրիգորիոս. ոչ թէ բերանով բարբառէր, այլ սրտիւն աղաղակէր։ 8 Եւ նորա լուեալ վաղվաղակի ասաց ցՔրիստոս. եւ Փրկչին Աստուծոյ անդ եւ անդ հանեալ զկապեալն Հրահատ ի շրջափակ զգուշութենէ պահապանացն, արձակէր խաղաղութեամբ առ սիրելի եղբայրն իւր եւ յաշխարհ։

'When they had approached to about a day's journey from the holy site of the chapel of the martyr Gregory, the village called Bagawan, and Nerseh Kamsarakan saw the site of the martyr Gregory, he remembered the compassion of the saints for the oppressed and the holy man Gregory's trust in God: "Lord Gregory, who dispelled from Armenia the thick fog of the impiety of our sins, dispel also the thick fog of grief from my heart, and allow me to see my dear brother safe and sound beside me. For everything is possible for God; he is ready and willing to hear your request, and will fulfil it." Thus, loudly and tearfully, Nerseh Kamsarakan implored Gregory, that man of God, not calling out with his mouth but beseeching in his heart. He [Gregory] heard, and immediately spoke to Christ. God the Saviour straightway delivered the prisoner Hrahat from the attention of the guards surrounding him, and sent him back safely to his beloved brother and his country.'

Book 3, Chapter 97

This episode recounts the final events of the Armeno-Persian war. Vahan managed to successfully negotiate with the Persian Shah Valarsh, and was restored to his office of sparapet of Armenia, which was hereditary in the Mamikonean family. The Shah agreed to the Armenian demands, namely to grant them religious freedom, as long as the Armenians remained loyal servants of the Persian King. As a result Vahan made a triumphal return to Armenia and was met by the Armenian katholikos with a procession involving the relics of Gregory the Illuminator.

Եւ եկեալ զաւրավարն Հայոց տէրն Մամիկոնենից Վահան յաշխարհս Հայոց, ամենայն ուխտապահ նախարարաւքն Հայոց. որում ընդ առաջ ելանէր սուրբ այրն Աստուծոյ կաթողիկոսն Հայոց Յոհան, պատուական նշանաւ խաչին եւ սուրբ նշխարաւք ճգնազգեաց նահատակին Գրիգորի, որովք եւ յուղարկեացն իսկ ի դուռն զամենեսեան։

'When Vahan, the sparapet of Armenia and lord of the Mamikoneans, and all the faithful Armenian princes reached Armenia, the holy man of God, Yohan the Armenian katholikos, came out to meet them with the honourable sign of the cross and the holy relics of the ascetic martyr Gregory, with which he had also dispatched them all to the court.'

Text: Kouymjian 1985, 116, 268-269, 307-308, 388. Translation: Thomson 1991, 95, 176-177, 197, 237; lightly adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E00120

Saint Name

Gregory the Illuminator, Converter of Armenia : S00251

Saint Name in Source

Գրիգոր

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

493

Evidence not after

500

Activity not before

450

Activity not after

460

Place of Evidence - Region

Armenia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

Łazar P'arpec'i

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Procession

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats Soldiers Officials Ecclesiastics – unspecified

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified

Cult Activities - Cult Related Objects

Crosses

Source

Łazar is mentioned by name only late in the Armenian tradition: the earliest reference to him by name dates to the 11th c., when Stephanos of Taron lists previous historians and names Łazar as an historian after Ełiše (which is chronologically incorrect). Earlier writers, such as Sebeos and Movsēs Xorenaci, clearly referred to Łazar's work, without naming him, but as an historian he only became popular much later, and knowledge of his History was quite scarce before 1000. The earliest surviving manuscript is even later and dates to 1672 (though some fragments have survived from the 15th c., and one fragment predates the year 1200). The late date of the manuscript tradition is not necessarily an argument for its late composition. As R. Thomson points out “a long succession of quotations and adaptations over the centuries points to their popularity”, but “we cannot be sure to what extent … radical editing was undertaken by well-meaning scholars, or perhaps deliberate and tendentious changes were introduced” (Thomson 1991, 4-5.) With reasonable certainty, Łazar and his work can be placed at the end of the 5th c. or the first years of the 6th, apart from the famous vision of Katholikos Sahak, which is clearly a later interpolation. As with other late antique Armenian historians, Łazar had a patron; specifically he wrote for the Mamikonean clan and their leader Vahan Mamikonean. He explains explicitly that he had been urged to write his History by his patron Vahan, the marzpan of Armenia, to whom Łazar owed the restoration of his fortunes. The purpose of the book, according to the author, was also moral, to provide his readers with role models and to encourage them to emulate the virtues of the holy, spiritual or valiant men who were the heroes of the History. Łazar also clearly places himself in the literary tradition of his predecessors and perceives his own work as a continuation of Agathangelos’s and of the Epic Histories, wrongly attributed to 'Faustos of Byzantium'. Łazar starts his History at the division of Armenia in 428 (where the Epic Histories had stopped) and continues down to the day when Vahan Mamikonean became the marzpan of Armenia in 485.

Discussion

By Łazar’s time the cult of Gregory had developed from accounts of it in earlier historians. Łazar is particularly interested in Gregory's relics used in procession, which he mentions twice. As Thomson puts it: 'He describes Bagawan as a shrine of Gregory’s cult; this was the site of Trdat’s baptism in the account of Agathangelos, but not otherwise significant'. Łazar tries to magnify the role of this place in Armenian cultural memory. Thomson: 'Łazar is the first to refer to the invocation of Gregory; the Armenian princes associate the intercession of Gregory with that of their ancestors martyred in the time of Vardan; and Nerseh Kamsarakan calls for his aid in delivering his brother from captivity … And Łazar refers to the triumph of saint Gregory with all his ascetic companions that was reflected in Vahan’s success' (Thomson 1991, 21). Another difference that transpires between Łazar's treatment of the cult of Gregory and other Armenian martyrs is that he was writing long after the central role of Aštišat as a cult place, which was so central in the Epic Histories, was diminished. He therefore omits all reference to Gregory's tomb in Aštišat, which exists in the Epic Histories, perhaps in order not to distract the reader from the importance of T'ordan as Gregory's cult site.

Bibliography

Text: Ղազարայ Փարպեցւոյ Պատմութիւն Հայոց և Թուղթ առ Վահան Մամիկոնեան [Łazar P‘arpec‘i’s History of the Armenians and the Letter to Vahan Mamikonean], a photographic reproduction of the 1908 Tiflis edition, with a new introduction and critical bibliography by D. Kouymjian (New York: Caravan Books, 1985). Translation: Thomson, R., The History of Łazar P‘arpec‘i (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1991). Studies: Garsoïan, N., The Epic Histories Attributed to P'awstos Biwzand (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989).

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