Holy relics and shrines

Length: 8 days/7 nights
Start and end point: Yerevan
Best season: June - the end of September

 

 

discover for yourself the sacred places of Armenia - the country true to Christ for more than 1700 years

 

This unique pilgrimage to the Holy Shrines of renowned Armenian and Universal saints will give you the whole outline of Armenian Christianity, from its very early stages to today. You will get acquainted with the beautiful surroundings of the monasteries where they lived and worked. Each day of our pilgrimage is entitled with a challenge Armenians have met in the past. We will have two overnights in Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, and the other nights we will be spent in Yerevan. Join us in this pilgrimage and get enriched with the deeds and prayers of holy people.

DAY 1. Conversion and Proclamation

We will start our pilgrimage with a prayer followed by a visit to a magnificent cathedral containing the Holy Relics of St. Grigor Lusavorich (St. Gregory the Illuminator) who played a decisive role in Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion in 301 and later became the Catholicos of the Armenian Church. Here, we get the blessing for our pilgrimage. After lunch, in the centre of Yerevan, we will visit the spiritual and administrative centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church - the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Knowledgeable and friendly guide will tell you the story Armenia’s conversion to Christianity en route. Upon the entrance to the city of Echmiadzin we will see a 7th century church where the shrine of  St. Hripsime (3rd c.) and the relics of the other 40 martyred nuns are kept. The Mother Cathedral will embrace us next, with its museum opening the doors for us to see the Holy Relics of many saints, the unique piece from Noah’s Ark, the Holy Lance with which our Lord was pierced and many more. A 10

minutes’ drive from Echmiadzin will bring us to the ruins of the once glorious Zvartnots Cathedral (7th century).

 

DAY 2. Translating and Surviving

After our morning prayer, we will start for Oshakan, a sacred place for each Armenian because it is the resting place of St. Mesrop Mashtots, who by God’s grace, invented the Armenian Alphabet in 405 AD. Then we will continue along to St. Gevork (St. George) church of Mughni (13th c.), with a nice 19th century . Then we will continue our pilgrimage to Hovhannavank Monastery (4th c.) on the relics of St. John. Our lunch will be arranged in the town of Aparan, which is known for its pure springs and hospitality. We will have the chance to partake the spirit of the faithful people living in this town up in the mountains. St. Nshan (Holy Sign) basilica is still standing there from the end of the 4th century. Then we will see a 5th century martyr’s shrine near Aparan Lake. Our dinner will be arranged in Ashtarak, rich with churches on the top of the deep gorge of the River Kasakh. It is really worth seeing!

 

DAY 3. Law and Theology

The Morning prayer will open our day to discover the shrines of Armenian medieval saints, still a places of pilgrimage in the north east of the country. First, we will enter Goshavank, where the shrine of Mkhitar Gosh is found. He was a well-known Armenian scientist and bishop, the author of Datastanagirq – a unique book of law codex first printed in Venice in 1790. We will have a chance to enjoy our lunch in the resort town of Dilijan with its contrasting colours, forests, the pure mountain air and healing mineral water springs.

Then, a beautiful road will lead us to Odzun Church, considered one of the finest Armenian basilicas with a 6th century, cupola, and to the nearby St. Hovhannes Odznetsi’s shrine (a 7th century Catholicos who was a very bright Christian face not only in Armenia but also in whole oikomene). Evening prayer will be in the Monastery of Haghpat where the shrine of Deacon Hovhannes Imastaser is found.

 

DAY 4. Scholasticism and Stones

After our morning prayer, we will move to the Monastic Complex of Noravank (4-13 cc.) that was considered the See of the Sunik bishops. Here, we will have the chance to admire the work of a well-known monk-architect Momik,  and among a large number of khachkars (cross-stones) we will find the one dedicated to the genius. The magnificent landscape of mountains and red cliffs, surrounding the monastery, displays a beautiful array of colours from the sun’s reflection. After lunch, with a special guest, we will continue on our way to see another miracle – Tatev Monastic Complex, founded in the 4th century, which once was a huge spiritual and cultural centre. It is a magnificent monastery built on a gorge, in harmony with the nature and  full of spirituality. Here is the shrine of the 14th  century Saint Grigor Tatevatsi, who was a great theologian. Dinner in Stepanakert - the lovely capital city of Artsakh.

 

DAY 5. Forerunning and Protection

After morning prayer,  the town of Shushi will welcome us with its magnificent Ghazanchetsots Cathedral – a cupola’d basilica of the 19th  century,  fully renovated after the 1990s. Right after lunch, we will have a pilgrimage to Gandzasar – a pearl of Armenian architecture, situated on the hill on the left bank of the Khachen River. Gandzasar was a 13th century spiritual centre where many manuscripts were kept. It is made  more precious with the treasure it hides - the head of St. John the Baptist. Now it is considered one of the five remarkable architectural monuments of Armenia. Afterwards, an interesting meeting with a priest will be organised. Our dinner will be at a nice restaurant nearby. Hopefully, we will have a starry night in Stepanakert.

 

DAY 6. Theology and Art

The morning prayer will complete our stay in wonderful Artsakh and we will move towards Goris – a lovely town, situated on the Valley of the Goris River. Here, we will have the chance to visit Arakel Siunetsi’s shrine. He was a renowned Armenian philosopher of the 14th century, a big church figure, author of a great number of valuable works such as Adams Book, Paradise Book, Theory of Music  etc. Lunch will be in the same charming town of Goris in front of the cave shelters. The vespers will be in the town of Sisian, which will welcome us with its rocky mountains, yellow cliffs and  wild nature. We will reach Yerevan by dinnertime.

 

DAY 7. Past, Present and Future

The day starts will a visit to matins in St. Zoravor, a charming church in the centre of Yerevan. Here the precious relics of St. Anania, the disciple that opened Saul’s (future apostle St. Paul’s) eyes, are kept. Then we will visit the Matenadaran - the world’s largest depository of ancient manuscripts, a museum and scientific institute named after Mesrop Mashtots (the inventor of Armenian Alphabet). After lunch, we will have free time for shopping and enjoying a final walk along the streets of Yerevan or just relax before our farewell party that will sum up the week’s impressions. We will say good-kin hopes that we will meet again.

 

DAY 8. Departure


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