Idea #494 – Exploring the monastery of the Holy Lance of Geghard in Armenia
Geghard, or Gherart, or Holy Lance of Geghard, is an Armenian monastery situated in the marz of Kotayk, from Yerevan. The complex was founded around the VIIth century.
According to the tradition, the monastery would have been found during the early Christian period and was then called Aïrivank or “rupestral monastery”. In this troglodytic monastery, numerous monks would have lived an ascetic life in caves with side of cliff, accessible only by scales or ropes in the time. Saint Gregor the Illuminator would have also lived there, as well as the catholicos Sahak Parthev during the creation of the Armenian alphabet.
During the Arabic invasion, he is of use as refuge to the population, but is plundered by the regent Nasr in 920 and is almost totally destroyed. Only some buildings remain then. The monastery is reconstructed in the XIIIth century by the family of Prochian; the main church is set up as 1215 and chapels in 1225. The monastery becomes then an important site of pilgrimage because of the relics of Holy Lance as well as fragment of the Noah’s Ark which the monks asserted possessing. The monastery is again destroyed by the Mongols, then by Tamerlan. The monastery was damaged also many times by earthquakes, in particular in 1127, in 1679, and in 1840 and restored every time. The site is registered on the UNESCO world heritage list.
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Monastery of Geghard, Armenia