[ad id=”1838″]Every year on the Thursday preceding Great Lent, Armenians throughout the world commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Avarayr (A.D. 451), in which Christian Armenia, under the leadership of St. Vartan Mamigonian, fought against the Persian Empire, which aimed to convert the country to Zoroastrianism.
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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 rare courage and resolution at the Battle of Avarayr.
On the eve of battle, Ghevont celebrated the Divine Liturgy, conferred the sacrament of Holy Communion on the soldiers, and baptized those who had not yet been received into the church. His stirring sermon assured the soldiers that their mystical union with Christ would survive even physical violence and death. In observance of Ghevontiantz Day, the clergy of the Eastern Diocese hold regional gatherings every year.