St. Ejmiatzin cathedral | Silk Road Armenia

St. Ejmiatzin cathedral

The Mother See of Holy Ejmiatsin is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the worldwide Armenian Church.  The Mother Cathedral, founded by the Descent of Christ, built by St. Gregory the Illuminator and King Trdat III, has stood as a symbol against time of the Armenian faith, nation and people. Its construction begun in the 4th century, built on the ruins of a pagan cult site, but it has been heavily restored through the centuries, most thoroughly in the 17th cent. Displacing a rival mother church at Ashtishat in Western Armenia, Ejmiatsin has been seat of the Catholicos in the 4th and 5th centuries and again since 1441. As such, and as the seat of the miraculous relics of the Armenian church – the Lance, the hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator, the hand of the Apostle Thaddeus, a finger of St. Jude, a drop of St. Hripsime’s blood, etc. – it came to control vast estates and received rich gifts from around the Armenian world. The place where the Cathedral sits is not an occasional one. It is said that Gregory the Illuminator had a vision in his dream that Jesus descended from heaven and pointed to the place where the Cathedral of Ejmiatsin is currently situated. Thus, the name Ejmiatsin means “the coming of the only begotten”. A visit to the Cathedral will not be full without a tour to the Museum. It protects numerous cultural values, exclusive art works, candles, curtains, old carpets, religious artifacts as well as illuminated artifacts worth seeing. These national values were brought from different Armenian colonies which proved Armenian national high taste and conception of beauty. Amongst all sacred relics this museum also protects the lance (geghard in Armenian), which is said to have been used to pierce Christ’s body. Ejmiatsin Cathedral together with the other churches in the territory is inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.