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Around this time of year, our church prescribes a Scripture reading from the Gospel of Luke, concerning a tragedy in a family household. A man named Jairus and his wife had a daughter, and this girl—only 12 years old—lay dying in their home.

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“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.

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To Armenians in the United States, “Armenian Cultural Month” has been a feature of community life for as long as they can remember. It arrives each October—and with it a flurry of lectures, readings, exhibits, sacred celebrations, and events intended to remind Armenians of the richness of their cultural heritage.

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The Armenian Church calendar lists the following saints under the title “Holy Translators”: Sahag the Parthian, Mesrob Mashdots, Yeghishé, Movses the Grammarian, David the Invincible, Gregory of Nareg, and Nersess of Hromgla.

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