ROME — An exhibition dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, which shows both his life and deeds has opened in Rome.

“The black and white photographs, are much more than just artistic shots. They make up a photographic biography of St. Gregory the Illuminator. This exhibit in Rome, shows both his life and his deeds,” according to Romereports.com

“There are so many St. Gregories in the Catholic Church, but the surprise will be to discover the Armenian St. Gregory,” says Vartan Karapetyan, representative of the Armenian Embassy to the Holy See.

The Armenian St. Gregory is remembered for his role in converting the nation to Christianity back in the year 301. In fact, Armenia became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

But getting to that point wasn’t easy. During a pagan ritual, the king discovered that Gregory was Christian. As punishment he was tortured and sent to this underground well where he lived for over a decade. After miraculously healing the king, he was set free.

“After he was released. He baptized the Armenian king and turned Armenia Christian,” Vartan Karapetyan said.

A church was built near Mount Ararat, on the site where he was imprisoned. Now it’s one of the most popular pilgrimage sites.

Veneration of St. Gregory is present in both the Armenian and Catholic Church. In fact, there’s a statue of St. Gregory, in the Vatican, on an exterior wall of St. Peter’s Basilica. Back in the year 2000, John Paul II donated some of St. Gregory’s relics to the Armenian Catholicos.

“There is a second part of the exhibit that focuses on the dissemination of his relics. The presence of St. Gregory in Constantinople, Rome, Nardò and so on,” representative of the Armenian Embassy said.

Through this exhibit the Armenian Embassy to the Holy See is not only celebrating the legacy of St. Gregory, but also a new chapter in its diplomatic relations with the Vatican. In the summer of 2013, Armenia issued its first resident ambassador to the Holy See. It’s a connection that in a way, traces back its roots, to the evangelization and legacy of St. Gregory the Illuminator.

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