The Armenian Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church
ROME – On the occasion of the celebration this year of the centenary of the Armenian genocide, Pope Francis proclaimed St Gregory of Narek Doctor of the Church on 12 April 2015 at St Peter’s Square. A comeback on this great Saint, and on his works.
On 12 April 2015, during Holy Mass at St Peter’s Square in remembrance of 1.5 million victims of the Armenian genocide, Pope Francis, as he had done on 21 February 2015, proclaimed St Gregory of Narek, 36th Doctor of the Church. Born in the Xth century, this great Saint left a footprint through his important work on the “Luminous Xth Century”, a rare moment of peace in Armenia.
St Gregory was born in Armenia; his father was bishop and author of important theological works. He was brought up by his uncle at the Monastery of Narek where he was ordained priest in 977. He was later appointed as instructor and embarks on the writing, among others, of his prominent work: the “Book of Lamentations”.
Greeted for his theological work, he is furthermore a high-quality poet who gave his letters of nobility to Armenian poetry by leaving an influence on many poets and musicians of all times. For some he is considered as the one who allowed the “Armenian Renaissance”. Krikor Beledian, Armenian author born in Lebanon in 1945, describes his “Book of Lamentations” as a “lengthy dialogue composed of 95 chapters in rhythmic prose or in free verses which is a poetico-theological lump”.
On his proclamation of the Saint as Doctor of the Church, Cardinal Amato, prefect of the Congregation of causes of saints, has reminded the four cardinal points of the Armenian Saint’s theology:
- significance of the sin and man’s limits, unable to talk about and to God, without the mediation of the Incarnate Word;
- dogmatic reflexion on the mystery of the Very Holy Trinity, reflecting the human spirit, drawing a similarity among the three theological virtues;
- defense of the supernatural efficacy of the sacraments and their role of transmitting and mediating within the Church, reaffirming the importance of the divine blessing and the internal life;
- devotion to the Virgin Mary, the Panaghia, “the one who is a whole sainthood”, the “All Saint”, pointing out the “absolute invulnerability of the Holy Virgin in relation to the sin”, in addition to her role of mediator, as “bridge between God and man”
Recognized as saint for the Armenian Church (his feast day is on 9 October) Gregory of Narek is also saint for the Catholics, for the Armenian Catholic Church as well as for the Latin Church where his feast day is observed on 27 February. Following his death, in the early XIth century, a mausoleum was built at the monastery of Narek, which was entirely wiped out during the genocide of 1915. Today he is the second saint coming out of the Eastern Church after St Ephrai the Syrian, raised to Doctorate in 1920 by Benedict XV.
Eva Maurer Morio