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Legendary origin of Ejmiatsin Cathedral

According to Agathangelos's History of the Armenians, written in about 460, St Gregory the Illuminator saw a vision in which the heavens opened and a blaze of light shone upon the earth. Through the light a procession of angels came down to the earth headed by the tall and glorious figure of Christ. Carrying a golden hammer, he came down and struck the ground three times with it. A column instantly arose with a circular base of gold and a tall column of fire with a capital of cloud and cross of light. Similar visions appeared at three other sites where Hripsime, Gayane and another of their companions were martyred. The columns transformed themselves into churches covered by clouds whose shape was that of a cupola. After the vision faded, Gregory founded the Monastery of Ejmiatsin ('Descent of the Only Begotten') on the spot where Christ had struck the hammer. In reality the monastery was founded, like many others in Armenia, on the site of a pagan temple whose altar can still be visited.


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