This Saturday, February 19, the Armenian Church commemorates Catholicos Sahag (Isaac) Bartev, a strong and great leader who is recognized as one of the greatest saints of the Armenian Church. His accomplishments, even under very difficult political situations, secured the survival of the Armenian nation.
He was the son of St. Nerses the Great and a descendant of St. Gregory the Illuminator. Orphaned at an early age, he nevertheless received an excellent literary education, especially in eastern languages. He was the one who encouraged and supported Mesrob Mashdots in the creation of the Armenian alphabet. Soon after this great event Catholicos Sahag began the first translation of the Bible and he led and guided the vast body of works that were translated into Armenian, thus creating Armenia’s “Golden Age of Literature.” He was an ardent believer in education and ecclesiastical discipline and canon law. He is recognized as the one who kept Armenia ecclesiastically and nationally autonomous.
St. Sahag is believed to have died in 437 at an advanced age of 89 (some sources claim older). With the death of Catholicos Sahag Bartev the line of St. Gregory the Illuminator came to an end.