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The founding of Noravank

According to Bishop Stepanos Orbelian, who was writing almost 200 years after the events he described, Noravank was founded by Hovhannes, Bishop of Vahanavank (in Syunik province). Hovhannes reportedly went to the Seljuk sultan Mahmud and came back with a firman giving him possession. He then moved here in 1105 and built the original church dedicated to John the Baptist (though present-day historians date this now-ruined church rather earlier), establishing a firm rule which barred all women and lewd persons. Meanwhile, however, the emir of nearby Hrashkaberd plotted to kill him and destroy the monastery. Hovhannes then went to Isfahan (in present-day Iran) where he cured the sultan's sick son and was rewarded with the title deeds to Hrashkaberd as well as other nearby estates. In consequence of this Hovhannes took a band of armed followers who captured the emir and his family and pushed them off a cliff. Bishop Hovhannes thereafter reportedly led a holy life and worked numerous miracles, such as catching in his hands unharmed a woman and infant who fell off a cliff, though presumably not near the monastery from which the mother would, of course, have been barred.

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