On Saturday July 6, 2019 we remember the Saints Nerses the Great and Bishop Khad.
Saint Nerses the Great (353-373) was an eminent Catholicos, and a descendent of St. Gregory the Illuminator.
St. Nerses, born in Caesarea in Cappadocia, married Sandukht, the daughter of King Diran, and they had a son together, St. Sahak.
After his wife died, St. Nerses served King Arshak II. King Arshak noticed St. Nerses’s piety and wisdom, and promoted him to become the Catholicos.
As Catholicos, St. Nerses convened the Church Council of Ashtishat in the year 356. This council decided on rules for law and order in Church as well as family life, for example Divine worship, appoint fast days, establish a canon for Church Feasts, laws for marriages, and to ban out pagan customs at funerals.
St. Nerses founded institutions of charity, such as schools, orphanages, homes for lepers and hospitals, and sent priests to preach the Gospel to the people, calling for loyalty and obedience to the Lord.
Bishop Khad assisted St. Nerses in his undertakings to strengthen Christian life in Armenia.
St. Nerses came into conflict with the political powers because of his strong stands against the heresy of Arianism. St. Nerses was exiled for nine years.
When he returned to Armenia, King Pap, son of Arshak II was in power. King Pap however had in the meantime reduced the number of preaching priests in the country, had expropriated Church property, and had neglected enforcing the decisions of the Council of Artishat.
St. Nerses, a deeply pious man, outspokenly admonished non-Christian moral and behaviour, and urged all, also the king, to live a pious Christian life.
King Pap cultivated growing animosity against the Saint. In the year 373 St. Nerses was poisoned and buried in Til.
Picture: Matenadaran, Yerevan: “Zhoghovatsu” (Collection), 1672, Amrdolu Monastery – St. Nerses the Great, offering liturgy.