St. Gregory the Illuminator Apostle of Armenia & Bishop
THIS apostolic man was a native of Greater Armenia, and by receiving his education
at Caesarea in Cappadocia, was there instructed in the Christian faith and baptized.
He opened his heart to the lessons of eternal life with so great ardor as entirely to
banish the love of the world and the concupiscence of the flesh. Having spent some
years in the study of the science of salvation, and in the heroic exercise of all
virtues, he was touched with a vehement desire of procuring the salvation of his
countrymen. This important affair he long recommended to God by his most fervent
prayers, and at length returned to Armenia, and there preached the faith of our
crucified Redeemer. The zeal and heavenly spirit with which he was animated and
with which he proclaimed the great truths of eternal life, gave an irresistible force
to his words; nor were miracles wanting to confirm the holy doctrine which he
announced. The people flocked to him in great multitudes to receive the holy
sacrament of regeneration, and to be directed in the paths of salvation. The
anonymous life of our saint in Surius says that he suffered much in this arduous
employment; but that after some time Tiridates, the king of that country, embraced
the faith. We are informed by Eusebius, that Maximin Daia, at that time Caesar in
the East, and a violent persecutor of the church, provoked at the wonderful progress
which the faith made in Armenia invaded that country; but was repulsed with
confusion. This was the first war on account of religion mentioned in history.
St. Gregory was consecrated bishop by St. Leontius, bishop of Caesarea in
Cappadocia, area continued his labors in propagating the faith over all Armenia, and
among many very barbarous nations near the Caspian sea, as far as Mount
Caucasus. He was called to bliss before Constantine the Great became master of
the East, the Greek Menologies say, by martyrdom. An anonymous panegyric of this
saint, published among the works of St. Chrysostom, mentions several discourses
full of heavenly wisdom to have been wrote by him; also an exposition of faith,
which he gave to the Armenians. The Abbé de Villefroi informs us that this
exposition of faith and twenty-three homilies of this glorious saint are preserved in
an Armenian MS, kept in the king's library at Paris.
See this saint's life in Surius; the above-mentioned pangyrics; Le Brun, sur les
Liturgies, t. 3, et 4, Lequien, Oriens Christian. t. 1 et 3; Galanus, Hist. Armen.;
Narrat. de rebus Armen. by Combefis; and Moses Chorenensis, in his History of
Armenia, l. 2, c. 88, p. 224. This history was published at London in 4to. in 1736, by
William and by George Whiston who maintain that the author lived in the fifth age;
but they are certainly mistaken, for the work must be more modern. As to the life of
St. Gregory the Illuminator attributed by some to St. Chrysostom, it is apocryphal
See Stilting, in Vita S. Chrysost. t. 4 Sept. s. 83, p. 663.
[1] Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Sep 30th.
Lives of the Saints