Our Patron Saint
Nightingale, voice of the night, little soul of the roses,
Friend of all mournful hearts that with sorrow are sighing!
Sing, little nightingale, sing me a song from that hillock,
?Sing with my soul of Armenia’s heroes undying!
Ghevond Alishan (The Nightingale of Avarayr)
St. Yeghiche was one of the youngest desciples of Sts. Mesrop Mashtots and Sahag Partev. He is known for his many achievements that have enriched the cultural treasury of the Armenian Nation.
After a short period of study in Armenia, Yeghiche was sent to Alexandria in around 435 for enhancement of his education. As a student he was already singled out for his profound knowledge of both the early Hellenistic culture, as well as the teachings of the fathers of the Church.
Upon his return to Armenia, St. Yeghiche became the personal scribe of General Vardan Mamikonian. Together with Vardan and his soldiers Yeghiche was involved in the famous battle of Avarair in 451 A.D. He soon composed a book titled ‘A History of Vardan and the Armenian War’ in which he beautifully narrated about the courage of the Armenian warriors and their determination to preserve their Christian Armenian identity. Inspired by this, St. Yeghiche wrote his famous phrase “Death, unanticipated, is death; death, anticipated, is immortality” which soon became a motto for many soldiers of the land of Armenia. He was named ‘the Nightingale of Avarayr’ by a 19th c. prominent poet and historian Ghevond Alishan, who dedicated an entire poem to St. Yeghiche and the other holy martyrs of Avarayr.
After the invention of the Armenian alphabet by St. Mesrop Mashtots, when all the tools were provided for creation of the Armenian literature, the holy translators of the 5th century started translating the Bible and the works of the fathers of the Church. Based on these translations many of the disciples of Mesrop Mashtots and Sahag Partev wrote their own works, thus laying the foundation of the Armenian unique literature.
When the war with the Persians was over, St. Yeghiche embarked on a profound study of the Holy Scripture and as a result of his studies, he composed commentaries on Genesis, Joshua, Judges etc.. He also produced some other outstanding works of both pastoral and doctrinal nature, such as, ‘On The Feast of Baptism of Christ’, ‘On the Feast of Transfiguration’, ‘On the Lord’s Prayer’, ‘On The Judgment and The Second Coming’, ‘On Remembering The Dead’ etc..
The oldest extant manuscript containing St. Yechiche’s ‘History of Vardan’ is dated to the 12th century. The two best editions of this work were published first, in 1826 in Venice by the Mechitarist fathers, and the second, in 1957 in Yerevan by Y. Ter-Minasian.
Being acquainted with the works of the early authors of the church and using their works as a base for his own research St. Yeghiche elevated the studies of the Bible and Christian tradition in Armenian to a whole new level. In his commentaries as well as pastoral works St. Yeghiche has shown his extremely high intellect and the in-depth knowledge of the main theological traditions of the time. Alongside Armenian, many others languages, e.g. Greek, Syriac, Persian etc., were taught in the schools established by St. Yeghiche.
Every year the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church commemorates St. Yeghiche together with the other Holy Translators of the Church. His feast falls on the Saturday preceding the fifth Sunday of the Holy Cross.
V. Rev. Fr. Garegin Hambardzumyan