Концерн 'БАЙАЗЕТ'

The Adoption of Christianity by the Armenian People

Christianity was adopted in Armenia in 301 A.D. Gregory the Illuminator, who became the first Catholicos of the Armenian Church (330-326), and King Tiridates III the Great (287-330), who was a noted persecutor of Christianity until his conversion, played a key role in this event.

According to the chronicles of the Armenian historians of the 5th century, in 287 King Tiridates III (Trdat the Great) arrived to Armenia with the aim to return the crown of his father. In Erez he offered up a sacrifice to goddess Anahit. Gregory, one of the King’s associates, refused to take part in this pagan religious ceremony because of his Christian faith. Tiridates also found out that Gregory was a son of the man who assassinated his father, King Khosrov II. Consequently, Tiridates imprisoned Gregory into Artashat underground dungeon intended for prisoners sentenced to death. Later on Tiridates issued several decrees ordering to arrest all Christians found in the territory of the state and confiscate their belongings.


The adoption of Christianity in Armenia is connected with the death of Hripsimean Virgins. According to the legend, a group of Christian virgins arrived into the city of Vagharshapat, the old capital of Armenia, to escape Roman persecution. King Tiridates fell in love with beautiful Hripsime, one of the virgins. He wanted to marry her, but, when Hripsime rejected his love, he ordered to execute the whole group of the virgins. 

All the girls died. However, one of them – Nune managed to escape to Georgia, where she continued her missionary work. For her merits the virgin was later canonized as Saint Nino.

This evil deed had a severe impact on the mental health of Tiridates III, and, as a result, he was stricken with a severe illness. Tiridates’s sister saw in her dream that her brother could be healed by Gregory, who was imprisoned at that moment. That’s why Gregory was released from the dungeon. He buried the bodies of the Hripsimean Virgins and, after a long prayer, healed Tiridates.


After his miraculous cure, King Tiridates and his court were converted and baptized by Gregory. Armenia became the first nation to declare Christianity as the official state religion. Gregory the Illuminator and the King worked hard to implant and spread Christianity in Armenia. And to strengthen the new religion and put an end to the pagan traditions and rituals, they destroyed the pagan sanctuaries, and built Christian churches instead.


In 345 in Antishat the First Armenian Church Council was called. Its members decided to establish orphanages, charitable institutions, leper colonies, as well as build monasteries and open schools attached to them in different regions of the country. The Council also prohibited burying the dead according to the pagan traditions, since Christians believe in life after death.



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