The Armenian Apostolic Church marks on Friday, 11 August, the Feast of the Apparition (“Shoghakat”) of Holy Etchmiadzin commemorating the inauguration of the Cathedral of the Mother See.
As Qahana.am reports, fifth century Greek historian Agathangelos tells us of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s divine vision, wherein our Lord Jesus Christ descends from heaven and strikes the ground with his golden hammer. In view of biblical Mount Ararat, in the city of Vagharshapat, the place where the Only Begotten descended identified the site for the foundation of the new cathedral of the Christian Armenian nation. The vision of Gregory became known as “Shoghakat”, as the saint saw a fiery column descending from the sky.
The foundation was laid in 301 A.D. and the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin was consecrated in 303 A.D. on the day of the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God. We learn from Archbishop Malachia Ormanian that as the Mother Cathedral is dedicated to St. Mary, the Armenian Church celebrates the feast of its foundation and inauguration on the Saturday preceding the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God.
For 1,700 years, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin has served and continues to serve as the spiritual heart and center of the Armenian Church, and is its most sacred sanctuary. Its spiritual, national and historical significance has only increased through the centuries. Through the vision of St. Gregory, God Incarnate descended upon the soil of Armenia and predetermined the country’s future, making Armenia the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion.