The latter included the belief that Armenians were descended from the eponymous figure of Hayk (despite the dubious etymological link, the classical Armenian term for 'Armenian' is Hay); that they comprised the first Christian nation after the healing and conversion of king Trdat (Fig.
Stela depicting a figure often identified as king Trdat (left), 4th/5th century, Kharabavank, Armenia, tuff, ht 177cm, History Museum of Armenia, Yerevan
The best view of Mount Ararat can be found from the Khor Virap monastery, which is one of the most important historic sites in Armenia's history, as it was here that Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 14 years before he cured King Trdat
III of his disease.
Armenia's claim on this meaningful title is primarily based upon the celebrated fifth century work of Agathangelos titled "The History of the Armenians." In it, he says as an eyewitness that after the Armenian King Trdat III was baptized (c.
These historians try to liken the conversion of Trdat III to that of Constantine's, even though the baptism of Constantine is questionable, as was his own personal "conversion."
According to legend, the Armenian Gregorian or Apostolic Church was established in the fourth century, when King Trdat III declared it the official state religion, under the guidance of St.
"Thanks be to the grace of God, that this enslaved Armenian nation valiantly defends Our Lord Christ, that built a church in this place [Isfahan] and lavishly decorated it, and found a church bell-ringer who proclaimed the hour so loudly as to drown out the Muslim mullah." (18) The scribe insists that it is only because of the Church that traditions, inherently Christian and Armenian, have survived from the time of Gregory the Illuminator and King Trdat III.
Led by King Trdat
III, the Armenians became the first people to embrace Christianity as their national faith.
(19) Although Gregory the Illuminator is celebrated as the apostle of Armenia, also central to Agathangelos's narrative is the role of the virgin Rhipsime, taken captive by the Armenian king Trdat III (Tiridates IV) after fleeing Emperor Diocletian and martyred together with her abbess and the entire convent of nuns who had accompanied her in her flight.
For example, the transformation of King Trdat into a wild animal closely follows the biblical account of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:21-22), but Trdat is transformed into a pig (varaz) rather than a bull or an ox.
The Christianization of this region owes much to both Syrian and Greek Christian traditions, but the earliest account of the conversion of Armenia is attributed to a churchman who wrote under the pseudonym "Agathangelos." His History of the Armenians focuses on the missionary role of Gregory the Illuminator, a Christian in the service of the pagan king Trdat
In this context, Agathangelos also described the Armenian school system and method of teaching at the time: And from every place within the borders of Armenia and from the lands and provinces of his realm king Trdat
commanded many young children [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] mankti, gen sg.