On Saturday, January 30, the Armenian Church commemorates St. Sarkis the Warrior, his son Mardiros, and 14 faithful soldiers. This is a moveable feast that can occur between January 11 and February 16. It follows the Fast of the Catechumens, which is not connected to St. Sarkis, but has become associated with this saint, even often referred to as the fast of St. Sarkis.
Sarkis was a 4th century Roman soldier who became a Christian. He rose through the military ranks because of his valiant campaign on behalf of the Emperor Constantine. With the accession of Emperor Julian, Sarkis and his son took refuge in Armenia, where Christianity had already been the nation’s official religion. Later they went to Persia to join the Persian army to fight Julian. Both fought with exceptional bravery. The Persian leader, Shapur II, tried to convince them to abandon their Christian faith and embrace Zoroastrianism. Both refused, and father and son were martyred. Fourteen loyal Christian soldiers who went to claim the bodies were also killed. Eventually, Christians secured the remains and sent them to Assyria where they remained until the fifth century when Mesrob Mashdots had the remains transferred to the city of Karpi in the area of Vaspurakan in Armenia. A monastery was built over the site of the graves.