This Saturday, July 2, the Armenian Church observes one of the three feast days dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator (Krikor Lousavorich): the discovery of his relics. St. Gregory is considered to be the “Apostle of Armenia,” and the patron saint of the Armenian Church. He preached throughout Armenia, built churches, including the great cathedral in Etchmiadzin, established the first canon laws, wrote many prayers, and organized the liturgical services.
After years of evangelizing, St. Gregory sought solitude and an ascetic life. He retired to a cave at Mount Sepouh where he died in solitude. Shepherds found his body and without realizing his identity they buried him under a pile of stones. Later a hermit, known as Garnik of Basen, who was a disciple of Gregory, saw a vision and went to Mount Sepouh and found the burial site. He took the saint’s remains to the village of Tordan for burial where King Drtad was buried.
Relics from the right hand of St. Gregory, encased in a golden arm, are at the Holy Mother See of Etchmiadzin and the Holy See of Cilicia. Continuing long established traditions, the Catholicoi mix the new Muron (holy oil) with the old Muron with the golden arm of St. Gregory.