This Sunday will be observed as Father’s Day across the United States: a chance to reflect, with gratitude, on the deeper meaning of fatherhood. While the surrounding popular culture may sometimes fail to treat fatherhood with due seriousness, the Armenian Church accords great reverence and respect to fathers.
The king ruled over an empire of many nations, and had a great opinion of himself. He had his own image sculpted in a statue of gold, 90 feet tall, and ordered all the authorities of his realm—political, judicial, religious—to fall down and worship it. Predictably, they all did.
“Poor working girl perseveres through the adversities of life and love—but finally makes it big.”
It sounds like the outline of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale—or, given a more contemporary spin, a Danielle Steel novel. But in fact it’s the life story of one of the saints of the Armenian Church: Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and discoverer of the Holy Cross of our Lord.
As the great-grandson of St. Gregory the Illuminator, he was heir to Armenia’s most exalted lineage, and possessed all the qualities of a great spiritual leader. Yet he resisted becoming a priest, and by some accounts only accepted ordination and advancement at the insistence of Armenia’s king.
In the Armenian Church, memorial days of one kind or another are quite common: we observe merelots after the major feast days; we remember our departed loved ones on the karasoonk of their passing, and thereafter through annual hokehankisd services.