Gregory the Illuminator dies – March 23, 332
This week marks the anniversary of when it is generally believed that Gregory the Illuminator, the early church evangelist credited with founding the Armenian Church, died.
Himself a native of Armenia, Gregory had become a Christian while growing up in Caesarea in Cappadocia. As an adult, he returned to his homeland to be a preacher.
Gregory eventually convinced Armenian King Tiridates to become a Christian, with the monarch deciding afterward to have his whole kingdom do likewise. According to the Christian History Institute, Armenia was the first nation to declare itself a Christian state.
“One reason for Gregory’s success was that he preached in the Armenian language. Another reason was that Armenians were strongly nationalistic,” the institute's website explains.
“Their country lay on the frontier between Persia and Rome, and if they hoped to survive, it would be through unity and moral character. Christianity strengthened both, especially after monks translated the Bible into Armenian a century after Gregory’s death.”
According to the institute, tradition dictates that Gregory died in March332.