St. Yusik I SOUREN-PAHLAV, Kat'oghikos of Armenia
Unknown ARŠAKUNI, Princess of Armenia
Khosrov "Kotak/the Small" ARŠAKUNI, King of Armenia
(Abt 295-338/9)
At'anakines SOUREN-PAHLAV of Armenia
Bambish ARŠAKUNI, Princess of Armenia
(-Aft 348)
St. Nerses I "the Great" SOUREN-PAHLAV, Kat'oghikos of Armenia
(Abt 335-373)


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St. Nerses I "the Great" SOUREN-PAHLAV, Kat'oghikos of Armenia

  • Born: Abt 335, Caesarea, Cappadocia
  • Married: Abt 351
  • Died: 373

  Research Notes:

...Nerses gave the Church some systematic organization. P'awstos Buzand categorically states that Nerses "increased the ranks of the ministers of the church in every place within his authority in the territory of Armenia, and he placed bishops as overseers in every district. And he always watched over his jurisdiction and authority for as much time as was allotted to him." From another quotation it appears that Nerses did not confine his activities to Armenia. P'awstos says:

At about that time, St. Nerses was touring his own principalities, for he held as a principality fifteen districts, the original hereditary appanage, that had been destined [for his house] as their own particular [holdings]. And the major ones among these districts were the following: Ayrarat, Daranagh, Ekegheats, Taron, Buzhnunik' Dsop'k', those in between and those around them.

The council at Ashtishat which he convened in 365 set down canonical regulations banning pagan-style funerals (rending of garments, loud wailing and unbridled mourning). Almshouses, hospitals and hostels were established throughout the country to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, to provide homes to the sick, and shelter to the poor. Nerses modelled his charitable activities on the work of his friend Eustathius of Sebastia and Basil of Caesarea. 1


[Nerses'] patriarchate marks a new era in Armenian history. Until that point, the Church had been more or less identified with the royal family and the nobles; Nerses brought it into closer connection with the people. At the Council of Ashtishat he promulgated numerous laws on marriage, fast days, and divine worship. He built schools and hospitals, and sent monks throughout the land to preach the Gospel.

Nerses held a synod at Ashtishat that, among other things, forbade people to marry their first cousin and forbade mutilation and other extreme actions in mourning. Some of these reforms drew upon him the king's displeasure, and he was exiled, supposedly to Edessa. It was probably at some point during the latter part of Arshak's reign that Nerses went to Constantinople to ensure the emperor's support of Armenia against the Persians. According to the Faustus of Byzantium's account, Roman emperor Valens became outraged at Nerses condemning his following of the teachings of Arius and sent Nerses into exile. While Nerses was in exile in Xad he was the leader of the church in Armenia.

Upon the accession of pro-Arian King Papas (Pap) (369) he returned to his see. Papas proved a dissolute and unworthy ruler and Nerses forbade him entrance to the church. Under the pretence of seeking reconciliation, Papas invited Nerses to his table and reportedly poisoned him in 373. 2

  Marriage Information:

Nerses married Sandukht MAMIKONIAN, daughter of Vardan I MAMIKONIAN, about 351. (Sandukht MAMIKONIAN was born est 335.)


1 Treasures from the Ark: 1700 Years of Armenian Christian Art, Vrej Nersessian, 2001, pp. 25-6.

2 Wikipedia article, St. Nerses I, citing sources.

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