Sharing the Inextinguishable  ~  Light of Christ  ~  Maintained by the Orthodox Church
The St. Gregory the Illuminator Institute
-entire website is under construction-
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat
in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned...  (St. Matthew 4:16)
by Holy Transfiguration Monastery
by the hand of Hovnatan Hovnatanian 18h cent. -from the walls of Holy Etchmiadzin
by the hand of Hovnatan Hovnatanian 18th cent. -from the walls of Holy Etchmiadzin
St. Gregory the Illuminator
of Armenia ~AD 301~
The first Christian Nation
Eastern Christians maintain ancient expressions of the Christian faith.  Armenians, for example, have a recorded
history of over three thousand years and are the bearers of an ethnic and cultural patrimony which distinguishes them as
one of the most ancient, continuous people in the world.  Armenia's majestic Mount Ararat is the place where Noah's
Ark rested, making it's historic homeland in eastern Anatolia a
cradle of civilization.  But more important than these is
the fact that after two centuries of intense persecution upon those who adhered to the faith brought there by the
Apostles Thaddaeus & Bartholomew, Armenia became the first nation to "turn to God from idols, to serve the living
and true God."  This definitive conversion of the nation, in A.D. 301, was accomplished through the preaching &
sufferings of Saint Gregory the Illuminator who established the one holy catholic and apostolic Church in Armenia.

This pattern of evangelization, conversion and Apostolic Succession has been repeated in all Orthodox Churches
down to our day.  Peter first went to Antioch and Paul evangelized throughout the Near East.  Matthew went to Syria,
Mark to Egypt, Philip to Asia Minor and John went to Ephesus.  Thomas went all the way to India before undergoing
his martyrdom.  Finally Peter and Paul both went to Rome and were martyred.  Andrew the Apostle, brother of Peter,
preached in Scythia, Asia Minor and Greece and was crucified in Achaia.  Therefore, he is considered the patron and
founder of the Church of Constantinople.  Several centuries later in the 9th century, his successor as Patriarch of
Constantinople, St. Photius the Great, sent Sts. Cyril and Methodius to be "Apostles to the Slavs."  

Eventually some of their descendants immigrated to our country and established the Orthodox Church in America.  
Today this autocephalous (completely self-governing) Church has its own American hierarchy, headed by His
Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada and is the only Eastern Church in America which is not
dependent upon a foreign hierarch.  Descending from the Russian Church, the O.C.A. is now comprised of Americans
from various ethnic backgrounds and its services are typically entirely in English.  These distinctive qualities make the
Orthodox Church in America an unique, indigenous expression of Orthodox Christianity in America, providing a firm
foundation to reach our nation with the truth of Jesus Christ in the Orthodox Faith.

The Apostolic Authority given by Christ to His Apostles was passed on through Sts. Thaddaeus and Bartholomew to
their chosen successors, the first bishops of Armenia -and ultimately to their first Catholicos, St. Gregory the
 Likewise the Apostolic Authority of St. Andrew was passed on to the Patriarchs of Constantinople like St.
Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Photius the Great and eventually the Patriarchate of Moscow.  
Then, in 1920, St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia, the Enlightener of America, granted autonomy to
what became the
Orthodox Church of America.  In 1970 the Orthodox Church in America was granted autocephaly
by Patriarch Alexi I.  Together with the other historic Orthodox Churches, we
comprise the one holy catholic and
apostolic Church of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (
Eph. 4:4-6).

Today western influences have greatly impacted the Eastern Churches and peoples.  Many Christians in western
society are sophisticated in everything except knowledge of their faith and, as a result, are easily swayed by the
opinions of the world.  Others study the Orthodox Church and Tradition like an artifact in a museum or a specimen in a
science lab.  But unless our Orthodox Faith, Liturgy, hymns, feasts and fasts are
internalized in our hearts and
actualized in our lives, they do us no good.  As Orthodox Christians, our Faith and Liturgy must impact and be a
meaningful part of our daily lives.  Today many have lost, drifted away from, or abandoned the Holy Faith which the
Apostles once preached, turning again to the idols of this world:  materialism, secularism and even atheism.

We need a New Illumination to once again turn from the darkness of error to the light of the knowledge of God.  
To accomplish this we must return to the very source of our faith:  Jesus Christ -the same Christ preached by the
Apostles, St. Gregory the Illuminator and the Church Fathers.  This "once for all delivered faith" was entrusted to the
Orthodox Church which Christ established (St. Mt. 16:16-18) and does not change (Jude 1:3, Heb 13:8).  St. Cyprian
of Carthage once wrote:  "No one can have God for his Father, who does not have the Church for his mother."  And
St. Paul the Apostle states that the Church is the “pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Tm 3:15).  Just as St. Gregory
brought the Gospel to the Armenians and Sts. Cyril and Methodius brought it to the Slavs, today all Orthodox
Christians are called to share the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ with fellow Americans.

Mission Statement:  The St. Gregory the Illuminator Institute Website is meant to contribute to the above
stated mission.  Its goal is to be a multi-faceted website which provides valuable information for those interested in
learning more about the ancient Orthodox Faith.  It relates some of the great history and ecclesial tradition of the
Armenian and Orthodox Churches and presents the great Orthodox theological tradition of the Christian East.
The following pages
are for your perusal
The web-servant, Sub-Deacon Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian, M.A., was ordained
in the Armenian Orthodox Church (Eastern Diocese).
Thank you for visiting.
St. Thaddaeus the Apostle
One of the 1st Illuminators
of Armenia: Martyred
c. AD 50
St. Bartholomew the Apostle
One of the 1st Illuminators
of Armenia: Martyred
c. AD 68
This is a personal web-site.  The views expressed herein are those of the authors.  To the best of my knowledge
they are in full accord with authentic Holy Tradition and the Orthodox Faith of the Catholic Church.  
You may contact me with any questions or concerns (St. Mt. 18:15-17).
Website Copyright 2001-2018
Soorp Neeshan
The Traditional
Armenian Stone
Carving of the
Holy Cross
"As for us, we shall glorify Him who was before the ages, worshipping the All-Holy Trinity and one Godhead,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages.  Amen."
-The words of St. Gregory the Illuminator upon his acceptance of the 1st Ecumenical Council
Holy Icons of those who first brought
Christ's Light to the Armenian people.
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