6. Of ARMENIA. The memory of Gregory of Armenia is held in great reverence in the Eastern (i. e. Greek, Coptic, Abyssinian, and Armenian) churches; and he is one of the saints of the Roman Calendar.
His festival is 30th Sept.; and the Armenians commemorate him also on certain other days.
There is every reason to believe that Gregory was the principal agent in the conversion of the Armenians to Christianity, though it is known that others had preached Christianity in the Greater Armenia before him, and had made converts; but until his labours the bulk of the nation continued to be heathens. We have, however, no authentic account of him.
A prolix life, professing to be written by Agathangelus, a contemporary, but which internal evidence shows to be spurious, is given in the Acta Sanctorum
of the Bollandists, Sept., vol. viii.
An abridgment of this life, by a Latin writer of the middle ages, is given in the same collection.
The work of Agathangelus was also abridged by Symeon Metaphrastes, a Latin version of whose account is given in the De Probatis Sanctorum Vitis
In these accounts Gregory, whose place of birth is not stated, is said to have been educated at Caesareia, in Cappadocia, where he was instructed in the Christian religion. Having entered into the service of the Armenian king, Teridates or Tiridates (apparently Tiridates III.), then an exile in the Roman empire, he was, on the restoration of that prince, subjected to severe persecution because he refused to join in the worship of idols.
A calamity, which was regarded as a punishment for this persecution, induced Tiridates to place himself and his people under the instruction of Gregory.
The result was the conversion of many people, and the erection of churches, and Gregory, after a journey to Caesareia to receive ordination, returned as metropolitan into Armenia, baptized Tiridates and his queen and many other persons, built new churches, and established schools.
He afterwards quitted the court, and retired to solitude, frequently, however, visiting the Armenian churches. Some modern authorities style him martyr, but apparently without any foundation.
The conversion of the Armenians took place about the beginning of the fourth century, and Gregory was still living at the time of the first Nicene council, A. D. 325, to which one of his sons was sent, apparently as representing the Armenian churches.
Many discourses, professedly by Gregory, are given in the work of Agathangelus: they are for the most part omitted by Symeon Metaphrastes.
Homilies in Armenian probably spurious
It is there said that there are several homilies extant in the Armenian tongue, ascribed to Gregory, but in all probability spurious.
A discourse, extant in the Armenian tongue, and entitled Encomium Sancti Gregorii Armenorum Illuminatoris,
is ascribed to Chrysostom; but is regarded as spurious by nearly all critics, and among them by Montfaucon, who has, however, given the Latin version of it in his edition of Chrysostom's works, vol. xii. p. 822, &c.
In the Biographie Universelle,
a pretty full account of Gregory is given, but the sources are not stated. Agathangelus, Vita S. Gregorii,
with the Prolegomena
of Stillingus, in the Acta Sanctor. Sept.
vol. viii. p. 295, &c. Comp. Sozom. II. E.
2.8; Theophan. Chronog.
vol. i. p. 35; Cedren. Compend.
vol. i. p. 498, ed. Bonn.