Gregory the Enlightener

(d. c. 326)

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Apostle of Armenia (d. c.326).

Although Christianity reached Armenia before Gregory's time, he is venerated as its national patron. Possibly of royal descent, he was brought up a Christian in Cappadocia, returned to his native land (far greater in extent than present-day Armenia), married and had two sons. After suffering persecution, he converted King Tiridates (d. 314), and the country became officially Christian. Consecrated bishop in Caesarea, he set up his diocese at Ashtishat. He taught lay missionaries the Scriptures and Christian morality as well as Greek and Syriac. With the help of clergy from these two countries, he increased Church membership and organized the local church. His son Aristakes took part in the Council of Nicea and succeeded his father soon afterwards: the see was occupied by members of his own family until Isaac I (d. 438) forbade married priests becoming bishops. In about 330 Gregory retired to a hermitage on Mount Manyea. He was found dead by a shepherd and buried at Throtan. There are many legends about him and writings attributed to him are probably spurious. But his cult spread into southern Italy through Armenian settlers and a Naples church claims some relics. Feast: 30 September.

Bibl. SS., vii, 180–90; see also articles in Anal. Boll. 83 (1965), 233–90 and 60 (1942), 91–130; B.L.S., ix. 280–2; O.D.C.C. p. 711.

Subjects: Christianity.

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