The Saints (501-700 AD)

Tatool, Varos, and Toomas (5th Century)

Tatool and Varos were brothers who decided to retreat to the mountains of Armenia
to live as hermits in order to strengthen their faith. They had been witnesses of
the deportation of the Armenian clergy and exile of the Armenian nobility during
the Vartanantz Battle. Being students of Saints Sahag and Mesrob, they also worked
during and after the Vartanantz Battle to reject the monks of Persia and fire worship
in general. After remaining in the mountains together for a number of years where
they lived a more severe life and ate wild berries and roots for nourishment, they
parted to live separately. Tatool became famous with the mountain people,for his
piety and, before long, many students gathered around him. He established a monastery
in which Toomas became his most outstanding pupil, endeared to all because of his
piety, intelligence, and good nature. As Tatool preferred the life of a hermit to
that of abbot of a monastery, he turned his monastery over to Toomas and returned
to the mountains. All three saints lived to an old age and monasteries were constructed
over their places of rest.

Yeghisheh, Movses, and Tavit The Holy Translators (5th century)

Yeghisheh was one of the most renowned of the students
of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob and, according to tradition, served as secretary to
St. Vartan. He wrote the great history of the Battle of Vartanantz in which he also
included a section about the Council of Ardashad. He was author of many books and
wrote commentaries on some of the books of the Old Testament. After the Battle of
Vartanantz, he retired to the mountains. After returning for a time to civilization,
he once again retreated to the mountains of the province of Mogk where he lived
a virtuous life. Later when the local peasants learned of his saintly ways, he moved
to the mountains of the Rushdouni province, where he passed away.

Movses of Khoren, known as the father of Armenian history,
was also one of the more important students of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob. He is noted
for his abilities in philosophy as well as being a great spiritual leader and pious
in nature. He possessed a genius, which was soon realized, and he was commissioned
to write a history of Armenia. Later he also wrote a number of very important works
among which are histories, poems, hymns, orations, and chants. He was ordained bishop
but in a later period, he met opposition as a student of the great translators and
was martyred.

Tavit the Invincible, was a student of Movses and received his higher education
in centers outside Armenia, particularly in Athens where he received the title of
Invincible because of his genius in philosophy. He translated the works of Plato
and Aristotle and is also noted for a number of commentaries and ecclesiastical
writings. Like Movses, he was subject to persecution. Tavit, like Movses and Yeghisheh,
is remembered as one of the Great Translators and intellectuals of the late 5th
century who, with pure faith and genius, crowned the Golden Age of Armenian literature
and church history.

Krikoris Rajig (Gregoris Rajig) (549 AD)

A Persian by birth from the Rajig family, Krikoris was
originally named Manjihr. At a very young age, he moved to Armenia and adopted the
Christian faith and his new name. Krikoris entered a monastery near Tvin and was
so renowned for his piety and strong faith that the monastery was eventually named
Rajig Manjihr. When the Persian Marspan Tenshabouh started his reign over Armenia,
he spent much time and effort spreading the Persian religion and was particularly
concerned with Krikoris. Finally, he ordered Krikoris to return to Persia. Krikoris
refused whereupon he was tortured and finally beheaded.

Asdvadzadoor/Makhoj (553 AD)

Makhoj was the chief priest of the monks (pagan priests)
assigned to Armenia and was himself the son of a monk and from a priestly family
in Tvin. He witnessed the martyrdom of Krikoris Rajig and slowly became drawn towards
Christianity. After witnessing a miracle when a conflagration was extinguished by
a blessing with a cross, he converted to Christianity. Shortly afterwards, he was
imprisoned along with two Armenian priests. During this period he was baptized and
received the Holy Orders; he was renamed Asdvadzadoor which means ‘gift of God.’
Later, during an examination of the prisoners, the two Armenian priests were released.
However, Makhoj, being a Persian and former high priest, was ordered to return to his
old religion. As a result of his firm refusal, he was crucified and shot with an
arrow while on the cross. Nerses Catholicos had his body placed near the Cathedral
of Tvin and marked his grave with a carved martyrium.

The Seven Witnesses Called Vegetarians(604 AD)

These seven young men came together near the end of the
sixth century from both the Persian and Greek parts of Armenia to live as hermits
in the surroundings of the Monastery of Klag. They retired to a nearby cave and
used only wild roots, berries, and other types of plant for nourishment.

When the Persian troops marched through Armenia in pursuit
of the Byzantines, Armenian Christians suffered the same fate as the Christian Greeks.
Boghigarbos, the leader of the seven witnesses, suggested to the abbot of the monastery
that he and his companions remain to protect the monastery and the monks should
go for help and protection. When the Persian troops passed through, all seven of
the witnesses were decapitated. Upon the return of the abbot and monks, they found
the bodies of the saints and buried them. With Boghigarbos as their leader, the
names of the seven are Teovnas, Simeon, Hovhannes, Yebipan, Timarios, and Nargesos.


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