The feast of the entrance of St. Gregory the Illuminator to Khor Virab (the ‘deep well’) is also a time of pilgrimage to the St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral at the Catholicosate of Cilicia. St Thaddeus and Bartholomew are the founders of the Armenian Church. St. Gregory played a leading role in the conversion of Armenia as a state to Christianity. He organized the Armenian Church by making it a central reality in the life of the nation.
On Friday, on the eve of the feast, His Holiness Aram I shared with the pilgrims the mission of the great saint to the Armenian people, and invited them to follow his path with renewed faith.
On Sunday, Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Tehran celebrated the Holy Liturgy. The theme of his sermon was, “Vartabed Gregory, the true witness of the Confessing Church of Jesus Christ, through your martyrdom you imitated the sufferings of our Lord for the Glory of His Church.” He then concluded, “Throughout our history, particularly during and after the Genocide, the Catholicosate served our people with the same determination.”
After liturgy, His Holiness carrying the relic of the Great Saint and the clergy of other relics, accompanied by the people, walked around the monastery in procession. Upon their return to the Cathedral, His Holiness Aram I blessed the water with the relic of St. Gregory the illuminator and prayed with the words of his own prayer:
“We, the pilgrims gathered at the Catholicosate of Cilicia, we besiege you with our prayers Great companion of our journey of faith.
You, who were nourished by the Truth of the Gospel and sparked by the love of Christ, pledged to serve the Son of God by shepherding the Armenian nation.
Your life in Christ, and encounter with Him in the Holy Eurcharist, you had a foretaste of the life to come, and taught it to us through your witness.
The Apostle of the faith of the Armenian people, guard and protect us through your deep faith.
Destroy all evil surrounding us and lead us to the eternal fountain of heavenly gifts and righteousness.
The second light-bearer of our faith, fuel our minds, hearts and souls with your light. Lead our earthly lives with the promise of ‘life in its fullness’, and strengthen us in the hope of eternal life.
St. Gregory the Illuminator, the great founder of our Church, bless our people in Armenia and the Diaspora, with the relic of your Right Hand.
Bless the pilgrims in this Cathedral today,
Forgive us our sins, and clean us from our spiritual and bodily bad-habits,
Heal the sick,
Enlighten our dark paths and pour your heavenly blessings upon our people, on our families and our Big family.
Lead us all as a nation to your Glory, to the glory of the Church of Christ and the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church.”
At the end of the water blessing ceremony, the relic of the Great Saint of the Armenian nation remained on the Alter of the Cathedral for the pilgrims to offer their prayers.