St. Gregory of Narek
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Gregory of Narek (951 – 1003), also known as Grigor Narekatsi, was an Armenian monk, and theologian. He is venerated as a saint in both the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic Churches and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis in 2015. The son of a bishop, Gregory was educated, ordained and later stationed at Narekavank, on the southern shores of Lake Van (modern Turkey). Gregory is considered by scholars of being the most beloved and significant theological and literary figure of the Armenian religious tradition.
He is best known for his Book of Lamentations, a confessional prayer book completed towards the end of his life, circa 1002–03. The book is considered a masterpiece of Christian spiritual literature. Gregory’s second most known extant work is a commentary on the Song of Songs, written in 977, the year he was ordained a priest. Gregory also wrote hymns, panegyrics on various holy figures, homilies, numerous chants and prayers that are still sung today in Armenian churches. Of particular importance are his two recensions of the encomium on the Holy Virgin. In which he affirms the doctrines of Mary’s bodily Assumption, perpetual virginity, and perhaps the immaculate conception.
- Book of Lamentations
- Commentary on the Song of Songs
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Quotes and Excerpts:
Prayer to the Mother of God by St Gregory of Narek
- Magnify your honor through me,
- and my salvation will be manifested through you
- if you find me, Madonna,
- if you pity me, blessed among women,
- if you rescue me in my waywardness, immaculate one,
- if you care for me in my fear, happy one,
- if you lift my head bowed in shame, good grace,
- if you intercede for me in my despair, ever Holy Virgin,
- if you include me in my rejection, exalted of God,
- if you show me kindness, undoer of malice,
- if you steady me in my doubt, repose,
- if you calm my anxiety, pacifier,
- if you show me the way from which I have strayed, praised one,
- if you appear before the tribunal for me, vanquisher of death,
- if you mellow my bitterness, sweetness,
- if you eliminate my separation from God, reconciliation,
- if you lift away my uncleanness, you who stamp out corruption,
- if you save me in my condemnation, living light,
- if you cut off the sound of my wailing, bliss,
- if you restore me, for I am broken, salve of life,
- if you look upon me in my ruin, you filled with the Spirit,
- if you visit me with compassion, legacy given us.
- You alone shall be on the pure lips of happy tongues.
- Indeed if but a drop of your virgin milk
- were to rain on me, it would give me life,
- Mother of our exalted Lord Jesus,
- creator of heaven and earth,
- whom you bore complete in humanity and
- total in divinity,who is glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
- uniting his essence and our nature in a manner
- beyond human understanding.
- He is all and in all, one of the Holy Trinity.
- To him glory, forever and ever.
Source: Thomas Samuelian, Grigor Narekatsi, Book of Sadness,
English trans. Khachatoor Khachatoorian
(Yerevan: Nairi, 2001)
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