November 19 – St. Nerses I, Bishop of Armenia, Martyr

November 16, 2017

Nerses I

St. Nerses IArmenian patriarch, surnamed “the Great”. Died 373. Born of the royal stock, he spent his youth in Caesarea where he married Sanducht, a Mamikonian princess. After the death of his wife, he was appointed chamberlain to King Arshak of Armenia. A few years later, having entered the ecclesiastical state, he was elected catholicos, or patriarch, in 353. His patriarchate marks a new era in Armenian history. Till then the Church had been more or less identified with the royal family and the nobles; Nerses brought it into closer connection with the people. At the Council of Ashtishat he promulgated numerous laws on marriage, fast days, and Divine worship. He built schools and hospitals, and sent monks throughout the land to preach the Gospel. Some of these reforms drew upon him the king’s displeasure, and he was exiled, probably to Edessa. Upon the accession of King Bab (369) he returned to his see. Bab proved a dissolute and unworthy ruler and Nerses forbade him entrance to the church. Under the pretence of seeking a reconciliation, Bab having invited Nerses to his table poisoned him.

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LANGLOIS, Collection des historiens de l’Armenie, II (Paris, 1869); ORMANIAN; L’eglise armenienne, son histoire, sa doctirne, son regime, sa dicipline, sa liturgie, sa litterature, son present (Paris, 1910); HEFELE, Hist. of the Councils of the Church, IV (tr. CLARK, Edinburgh, 1895); SUKIAS SOMAL, Quadro della storia letteraria di Armenia (Venice, 1829); WEBER, Die kathol. Kirche in Armenien (Freiburg, 1903); TER-MINASSIANTZ, Die armenische Kirche in ihren Beziehungen zu den syrischen Kirchen bis zum Ende des 13 Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1904); NEUMANN, Versuch einer Gesch. der armen. Litter. (Leipzig, 1836); FINK; Gesch. der armen. litter. in Gesch. der christl. litter. des Orients (Leipzig, 1907); AZARIAN, Ecclesiae Armeniae traditio de Romani Pontificis primatu iurisdictionis et inerrabili magisterio (Rome, 1870); CHAMICH, Hist. of Armenia, (Calcutta, 1827).

A. A. Vaschalde (Catholic Encyclopedia)

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