Mystic, monk and poet – meet the newest Doctor of the Church

St. Gregory of Narek – a tenth century priest, monk, mystic, and poet beloved among Armenian Christians – has become the first Armenian to be named a Doctor of the Church.

“It is a great honor for the Armenian Church to contribute to this very important rank of saints who have enriched the Catholic Church with their teachings,” Armenian Catholic priest Father Thomas Garabedian told CNA Feb. 23.

“Certainly this is a big honor for us Armenian-Americans,” said Fr. Garabedian, who is chancellor of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Canada and the United States.

The Pope on Feb. 21 confirmed St. Gregory of Narek as the Church’s newest doctor during a private audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Vatican Radio reports.

St. Gregory of Narek is known for his various poetic writings, especially a book of prayers entitled “Book of Lamentations.”

“This saint is very revered in the Armenian Church. It is not uncommon to find his book in every Armenian household throughout the Middle East and also here,” Fr. Garabedian continued.

The saint’s book laments his nature as a great sinner, said the priest, who compared him to mystics like St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross.

St. Gregory of Narek is venerated as a saint both in the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is not in full communion with Rome. The Armenian Catholic Church, an Eastern Church in union with Rome, has about 1 million members. Continue reading

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