Tag Archives: Eastern Christianity

Gregory of Narek’s brief narrative

NarekYou may recall that Pope Francis, in February 2015, declared as a Doctor of the Church the sainted Armenian monk and poet, Gregory of Narek (950-c. 1005). He is only one of 36 by the Roman Church.

Many wondered about the person of Gregory and his importance in the Church today. Being declared a Doctor of the Church is one of the most singular distinctions that the Supreme Pontiff could give to one of the saints, but way this monk and poet of the Armenian Church, and why now? Why is this gesture of Pope Francis a key event?

In Michael LaCivita’s article, “Cries from the Heart: Armenia’s Poet of the Soul” gives a fine introduction to this Doctor of the Church.

Saint Sharbel Makhlouf

Today is the feast of Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, the great Lebanese Saint (1828-1898). He is the first Lebanese Ssaint to be canonized formally by the Church of Rome. Most of Sharable’s life was marked chaos in the world, in particular with the Ottoman empire. The war destroyed 40 Lebanese villages and killed over 22,000 Maronites in Lebanon and Cyprus.

The monastic life of Sharbel was that of being a hermit: a life of penance, prayer and supplication before the Lord. His reputation spoke of him as a Miracle Worker of the East. He is an apostle of peace.

A New Doctor of the Church: Saint Gregory of Narek

stgregoryThe Catholic Church has a new Doctor –an Armenian saint —Saint Gregory of Narek.

“St. Gregory of Narek is widely revered as one of the greatest figures of medieval Armenian religious thought and literature. Born in the city of Narek in about 950 A.D., St. Gregory came from a line of scholars and churchmen.”

Saint Gregory of Narek’s feast day in the Armenian Church is October 13.

On the occasion of the 1700th anniversary of the Baptism of the Armenian people (2001) Saint John Paul said of Saint Gregory: “Among these illustrious figures, I would like to recall here Gregory of Narek, who probed the dark depths of human desperation and glimpsed the blazing light of grace that shines even there for believers.”

You will note that Saint Gregory, a monk in the Armenian Church, lived at a time when his Church was not formally in communion with Rome and Constantinople. Christian history can be complex to understand.

The Vatican Radio report is here.

The title of “Doctor of the Church” is bestowed on a saint because of his or her contribution to theology or doctrine. There are now 36 Doctors of the Church recognized by the Catholic Church, 4 of whom are women. The Eastern Churches may have a different list for their “Doctors of the Church.”


Rainbow coalition

Rainbow coalitionThis is a rather unfortunate photograph of some Russian Orthodox bishops. While I am confident that they have no idea of the cultural critique, it is funny as hell.

The first thing I thought of was “Here is  ecclesiastical candy.”

Blessing of pomegranates by the Armenian Catholicos Karekin II

Karekin blessing pompegranates 2015Here is a unique Christian tradition with the 2015 Blessing of pomegranates by His Holiness,  Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. It is a tradition on New Year’s Eve (or day).

The custom of blessing fruits was known among the Israelites; the Jewish custom originated in that the first harvest was offered to the temple: harvest gifts included wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey.

Pomegranates are considered by many faith traditions to be the fruit of the tree of knowledge and they are also a symbol of plenty and life.

In the Christian Church, the pomegranate symbolically represents the Church. “The seeds of the pomegranate, though separated by thin membranes yet hold tight together, same way Christian Church holds all Christians around the world together in Christ’s love; though separate but not divided. Pomegranate shows unity in diversity. The crown of Pomegranate represents Jesus’ crown and His sovereignty over the world. The red color symbolizes His Salvific Blood that was shed for All. It also contains 365 seeds as the number of days in a year symbolizing new life in Christ the new year.”

Armenia accepted Christianity as its official religion in AD 301.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory