During Great Lent, saint days are commemorated only on Saturdays. During the remainder of the year saints can be honored on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays. Never on Wednesdays or Fridays, these being fasting days.
This Saturday, March 24, the Armenian Church celebrates one of the three days in its liturgical calendar devoted to St. Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of the Armenian Church. The three days are: Entrance into the Pit; Emergence from the Pit; and Discovery of his remains. This Saturday is the commemoration of his commitment to the Deep Pit (Khor Virab).
Gregory maintained his faith and refused to renounce Christ. As a result he endured many tortures and his final punishment was banishment into a deep pit where he remained for a period of thirteen or more years. Miraculously he survived, thanks to his faith and a woman (identity unknown) who lowered food and water into the pit.
The Monastery of Khor Virab is a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims who visit Armenia. The monastery was built on the exact location where St. Gregory was imprisoned. The pit is accessible and it is possible for visitors to climb down the ladder (27 steep steps) into the pit. The church, named Sourp Asdvadzadsin, dates to the 17th century. The area is one of the most beautiful in Armenia and provides the absolute best view of Ararat from anywhere! The area surrounding Khor Virab is the site of the ancient Armenian capital, Ardashad, founded by King Ardashes I about 180 BC.
Come, let us exalt on this day the spreader of the spiritual light to us who sat in darkness, the holy patriarch Gregory. Come, you children instructed by him, exalt on this day the distributor to the sons of Torkom of the undefiled gifts of the Holy Spirit who gave us a new birth as sons of the light. Come, you children instructed by him, exalt on this day the interpreter of the divine word in the land of Armenia. On this day the Church and her children sing with the angels, on this day of memory of the enlightener ascribing glory to God in the highest.
(Canon to St. Gregory the Illuminator, Commitment to the Pit, from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)
Posted from Armenian Prelacy’s (Eastern) weekly E-Newsletter