December 24, 2017 - Kiahk 15, 1734
Departure of St. Gregory, Patriarch of the Armenians
This day marks the departure of St. Gregory, the Patriarch of the Armenians who was a martyr, without bloodshed (A Confessor). This saint, as it was mentioned on the 19th day of the Coptic month of Tute, was tortured by Tiridates, the Armenian king, in the year 272 A.D. for disobeying the king and refusing to worship the idols. The king cast the saint into an empty pit where he lived for 15 years, during which God took care of him. Near the pit lived an old widow, who saw, in a vision, someone telling her to make bread regularly and cast it into this pit. She continued to do so for 15 years. Because of the length of time, no one in his congregation knew if he was alive or dead. When the king killed Arbsima, the virgin, and all the virgins who were with her, he also ordered that their bodies be cast away on the mountains. Later on he regretted what he did for he wanted to marry Arbsima.
When the king's family and close advisers saw how he grieved for killing St. Arbsima, they advised him to go out for hunting to recreate himself. While he was riding his horse the Devil jumped on him and cast him on the ground. King Tiridates became possessed with an evil spirit and assumed the appearance and manners of a wild boar, to an extent that no one was able to go near him safely. Many of the people of his kingdom had the same fate. Great fear and crying was heard all over the palace and the kingdom as a result of what had happened to the king and many others as a result of what the king did to the virgins. The king's sister saw a vision on three consecutive nights. A man was telling her that unless she brought St. Gregory out of the pit, the King would not be saved nor would be cured. The people were surprised, since they believed that he was dead. They went to the pit and dropped a rope and called his name. When the saint moved the rope, they knew that he was still alive, they asked him to tie the rope around him and they pulled him out.
The people took the Saint with great honor to the palace. They asked him to heal the king of his sickness. The Saint asked him if he would go back to his evil deeds. When the king expressed no intention of going back to his evil works, the saint prayed for him, and the evil spirit departed from him. His personality and his mind were restored, but he was not completely cured. The nails of his hands and feet remained like those of a boar as a punishment and as a reminder to him of what he was and in order for him not to go back to his evil works. The saint inquired about the whereabouts of the bodies of the virgins. He went and found them undecayed and he placed them in an honorable place. St. Gregory cured all who were sick and cast out many devils. The king and his people believed. He taught and baptized them. He built many churches, ordained bishops and priests for them and he instituted laws for them to follow. When he completed his strife, he departed in peace. May His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.