St. Gregory of Narek – Newest Doctor of the Church!

Pope Francis today declared St. Gregory of Narek (aka Grigor Narekatsi) the newest Doctor of the Church. He was an Armenian Catholic monk, mystic, and poet (circa AD 951-1003).

Here’s the story at Vatican Radio. Lots of info.

Gregory was one of the legitimate sons of Khosrov Antsevatsi, a married priest whose wife died young. He did not remarry, became a bishop, and authored the earliest-known Armenian commentary on the Divine Liturgy.

Gregory was taught by his father and by his mother’s brother, Abbot Anania Vartabed of the Narek Monastery. (Vatican Radio had a little translation problem there. Anania is a guy’s name.) Gregory ended up entering the monastery himself, becoming a celibate priest, and authoring a commentary on the Song of Songs at a fairly young age. (Younger than Bede.) He wrote many songs and other pieces still used in the Armenian form of liturgy, Catholic and Orthodox alike. His most famous work is the Book of Lamentations or Book of Prayers, a book of 95 prayer poems.

Here’s a beautiful Marian prayer by him.

His Armenian nickname is “the watchful angel in human form,” and he is known for many miracles.

His traditional Armenian feastday is October 13. His Catholic feastday is February 27.

Now, if you read about the history of the Armenian Catholic Church, you will notice that they weren’t actually in communion with Rome during St. Gregory’s lifetime. (Apparently not for lack of trying, and partly because of logistical difficulties.) However, when a church comes into communion with Rome, Rome honors everyone they honor as a saint. Once things are healed, they’re healed.

And a good thing too. Armenians suffered to stay Christian. Check out some of the other saints on this list.

Armenian Catholics live all around the world, but there are a lot of them in the US and Canada. Here’s a page about their eparchy, and here is their cathedral, St. Gregory the Illuminator, Los Angeles. It’s gorgeous and wonderfully different.

Here’s the Armenian Catholic Church’s official webpage.


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