Every year on the Thursday preceding Great Lent, Armenians worldwide commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Avarayr (451 A.D.), in which Christian Armenia, under the leadership of St. Vartan Mamigonian, fought against the Persian Empire, which aimed to convert the country to Zoroastrianism.
On the field of Avarayr, outnumbered Armenian fighters faced a mighty Persian army. St. Vartan and his companions saw a military defeat, but their unyielding commitment to defend their faith ultimately thwarted the Persians, and ensured that Christianity would endure in Armenia. .
Two days prior to the Feast of Sts. Vartanantz, the Armenian Church remembers the sacrifice of St. Leontius (Ghevont) the priest and his companions. St. Ghevont is one of the great exemplars of the Armenian priesthood, remembered for his courage and resolution at the Battle of Avarayr.
On the eve of battle, Ghevont celebrated the Divine Liturgy, distributed Holy Communion, and baptized soldiers who had not yet been baptized in the Armenian Church. He also delivered a stirring sermon, stressing that neither the Persian forces nor death could undermine the soldiers’ union with Christ.
Each year clergy of the Eastern Diocese hold regional gatherings in observance of Ghevontiantz Day. At St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, NJ, Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian will preside over the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on February 5, beginning at 11 a.m. Clergy in New England will gather at Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church in Providence, RI, where the Divine Liturgy will begin at 11 a.m. In the Midwest, the observance will take place at Sts. Joachim and Anne Church in Palos Heights, IL, beginning at 10 a.m.
to learn more about St. Leontius and his companions.
Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America [firstname.lastname@example.org]