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Twelve Saints - Twelve Prayers of the Armenian Apostolic Church 

Edited and translated by the faculty of 
St. Nerses Armenian Seminary 

The following are the names of the Twelve Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church and their prayers. 

Forwaord 

he prayers translated here represent but a taste of the depth and breadth of the spirituality of the Armenian Church. Written at different times, in diverse literary forms, inspired by various circumstances, the prayers reflect the richness of the Christian witness of the Armenian people throughout the ages. The Armenians professed the Christian faith preached by Christ's apostles, fundamentally the same as that of other ancient churches. However, since this faith was not a mere creed of abstract doctrines but a radical outlook on life, it was experienced, interpreted and expressed in a way necessarily peculiar to the Armenian people. That distinctive vision of God and his love for humanity is revealed in these prayers. 

The twelve fathers arranged chronologically in this anthology fully reflect the orthodox faith of the Armenian people. St. John Chrysostom and St. Ephrem are not of Armenian descent, but from the rise of Christianity in Armenia, they were adopted by the Armenians as their own. Others in the collection, such as Sahak Dzorop'orets'i, Grigor Magistros, and the two Johns, Sarkavag-Vardapet and Garnets'i, while not canonized saints, were nevertheless acknowledged as such at times by the Armenian faithful who cherished their writings. We therefore include them here alongside the other saints. 

The prayers are provided for private devotion, contemplation, and as a call to grow in the apostolic faith of our forebears. In some ways, these prayers are maps for our journey to God, uttered by saintly sojourners who knew the spiritual territory, and having arrived, now call us to join them. May these supplications provide comfort and the assuring joy that God hears our prayers. 

The Faculty of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary 

New Rochelle, New York 

Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, 1998 

St. Gregory The Illuminator
A Prayer for Times of Trouble.

Blessed is your love for mankind, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Why do you forsake me? You alone are without sin, and your name shows kindness and love for mankind. Show me compassion, for you alone love mankind. 

Save me, who have fallen into sin, for you alone are without sin. Remove me from the mire of my iniquity, for I am submerged forever and ever. Save me from my enemies, for like a lion they growl and roar, seeking to swallow me up. Now, my Lord, flash your lightning and destroy their power. May they fear you and be cut off from the light of your face, since they cannot stand in your presence, Lord, nor in the presence of those who love you. Whoever calls on you sees the power of the sign of your Cross, Lord, and trembles and shies away from it. 

Now, Lord, save and keep me, for I have put my trust in you. Liberate me from my trouble, so that the malicious one will not cast me into oblivion, for he battles against me in his insidious ways. Even over secrets you have dominion, Lord, and you search the hearts and innermost being. Purify my heart and my thoughts of all lewd and vile thoughts so that I will not be lost into eternal perdition. 

Have mercy on me, God, who have power over all, and grant the grace of tears to my sinful soul, so that I may wash the multitude of my sins; so that I may be saved from the hand of merciless angels who cast innocent ones into the fires of hell. I should weep continually, praying to you God, that I may not be found unworthy at that hour when you will come, lest I hear that awful voice, "Be gone servant of evil. I do not know where you are from.' 

Exalted God, the only sinless one, grant me, this sinner, your abundant compassion on that day, so that my secret wickedness will not be revealed in the sight of the angels and archangels, the prophets, the apostles and all the righteous. But save me, this wicked one, by the grace of your mercy. Receive me into paradise with the perfectly just. Receive the prayers of this your sinful servant by the intercession of the saints who are pleasing to you, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Glory to you with the Father and the Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages. Anlen. 

St. Gregory the llluminator (d. 325) is the founder of the Armenian Church (ca. 301), following the conversion of King Trdat and the masses. But more than the Christianization of the nation, St. Gregory is revered for the unprecedented tortures he endured for the sake of Christ, for which reason he is acknowledged a saint in all the ancient churches. 

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 St. Ephraham The Syrian 
A Prayer of Contrition and Confession

I pray to you, Christ, Savior of the world. Look down and have mercy on me. Save me from the multitude of my transgressions, for I have disdained all the good things you have done for me since I was a child. Foolish and stupid as I am now, you fashioned me as a vessel filed with your knowledge and wisdom. Multiply in me your graces. Satisfy my hunger, quench my thirst, enlighten my darkened mind, and focus my wandering thoughts. 

And now I bow down and pray to you. I fall down and beg you, acknowledging your goodness. Interrupt the stream of your mercy into me and keep it in your treasury for me so that you might give it to me on that day. Do not be angry with me, loving Lord, for I cannot endure your threats. This is why I fervently beg you, abound in me, for my tongue has grown weak, unable to speak of your grace. My mind is seized in amazement, unable to bear the greatness of the waves of your grace. O Appearance and Radiance of the Father's blessing, cease its flow into me here so that like fire it may enflame my insides and my heart. Now again grant me your grace, and let me live in your kingdom. 

Do not remember my depravity. I dare ask you to answer my prayers. Cover over my depravity from your omniscience. Receive my tears. Accept my lament. Remember the tears I cried before your holy martyrs so that you might show me compassion on that day, and cover me under the protection of your grace. For if you respond according to my depravity, miserable wretch that I am, what shall become of me? 

But with weeping tears, I entreat your love of mankind, save me from the multitude of my iniquities, and grant me your kingdom. Show me, a sinner, your ineffable love. Make me like the thief, who, with one word, became an heir of paradise. Take me there, to the promise you will keep. 

Glory to the Father, our Creator, and to the Son, our Savior, and to the Holy Spirit, our Restorer, unto unending and indelible eternity. 

St. Ephrem the Syrian (t3 73), known in Armenian as "Khouri' (Cleric), is the foremost writer in the Syriac Christian tradition, which was influential in the formation of early Armenian theology and liturgy. Many of hts numerous hymns and metrical homilies have been handed down only in an early Armenian translation. This prayer is an excerpt from a book of Ephrem's prayers preserved only in Armenian, 

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 St. John Chrysostom
A Prayer of Preparation for Receiving Holy Communion 

O Lord my God, I thank you, and I magnify you, and I glorify you, for today you have made unworthy me worthy to share in your divine and terrible Mystery, in your immaculate Body and precious Blood. Having them as intercessors, I pray: Keep me in your holiness every day and every hour of my life, so that by remembering your goodness, I may live with you, who suffered, and died, and rose for us. 

My Lord and God, my soul being sealed with your precious Blood, keep the Destroyer away from me. Most powerful One, the only sinless One, cleanse me of my every useless deed with your holy Body and Blood. 

Strengthen my life, Lord, against every temptation, and turn my adversary away from me ashamed and confounded every time he attacks me. Strengthen every step of my mind and tongue, and every move of my body. 

Be with me always by your unfailing promise, "Whoever eats my Body and drinks my Blood abides in me and I in him." You said it, loving God. Uphold the words of your divine and irrevocable commandments. For you are a God of mercy, and of compassion, and of love, and the bestower of all good things. And you are worthy of glory, together with your Father and your most-holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen. 

St. John Chrysostom (c. 350-407) is known in Armenia and throughout the Christian East as the "golden mouth" for his profound and passionate homilies, His writings were among the first documents translated into Armenian after the Bible. Today more manuscripts of Chrysostom's works have come down to us than of any other Armenian or non-Armenian author, a sure sign of his unquestioned authority in the Armenian Church. 

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 St. Mesrob Mashtots
A Hymnic Prayer of Reconciliation with God

Christ, God of Gods, have mercy on me. 

In iniquity did my mother give birth to me. I beg you, Savior, have mercy on me. 

Wounded in sin, I fall down before you, Savior. 

Do not overlook me. Have mercy on me. 

Sighing, the tax collector received forgiveness 

in the temple. In his very words I too call out, "Have mercy on me, God." 

The thief cried upon the cross: "Remember me, Lord." In his very words I too call out, "Have mercy on me, God." 

Pleading, the prodigal son begged you, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you." In his very words I too call out, "Have mercy on me, God." 

 With the poor, Lord, grant us sobriety, by the example of Lazarus, so that in voluntary poverty we might be worthy with him of the kingdom of heaven. Hear us and have mercy on us, Christ God. 

In place of the bread of deprivation, you granted him the bread of immortality. And contrary to the uncompassionate rich man, you received Lazarus into the bosom of Abraham. Hear us and have mercy on us, Christ God. 

Enlighten the eyes of our heart so we may receive the mercy that comes from you, Lord of mercy, lest like the rich man in the fiery furnace, we ask to be refreshed with a fingertip of water. Hear us and have mercy on us, Christ God. 

Together with the wakeful ones in heaven, glorify the almighty Father, God who has no beginning! 

With angelic voice, glorify the Only-begotten Son, begotten of the Father! 

And with joyous sound, glorify the Holy Spirit, the Restorer, with unceasing voice! 

God without beginning and heavenly king, glorified by the immortal heavenly hosts, we bless you, O Father without beginning. 

You humbled yourself from the heights for our salvation, O Liberator of bonds and Healer of our souls. We praise you, O Only-begotten Son. 

Consubstantial with the Father and glorified with the Only begotten, distributor of gifts and bestower of mercy, You we glorify, true Holy Spirit. 

O Wisdom of the Father, who shined the divine light of your Word upon the darkness of ignorance enclosing the world, enlightens us also. 

You signified in the rich man and Lazarus an example of the universal judgement by handing them the contrary fates they received. 

And so we shall ask you, Lord, to save us from the fire of sin and suffering, that we might rest in the bosom of the righteous patriarch. 

With him, we too join the voice of the choirs of angels singing glory in the highest to the indivisible Holy Trinity. 

In 404 AD St. Mesrob Mashtots' invented the Armenian alphabet, He was heralded a saint because his alphabet made it possible to communicate the faith--the Bible, the writings of the Church Fathers, creeds, prayers, and hymns--to the Armenian people in their own language. Many ancient musical prayers, like this one, are attributed to him, and chanted to this day during the daily services. 

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St. John MantakuniA Double Prayer for the Early Morning

We give you thanks, O Lord our God, who have awakened us from restful sleep by the grace of your mercy. Awaken our minds in righteousness for you, Lord our God, so that our eyes may see your salvation. May your divinity come and abide in us, and may your mercy shelter and protect your servants. By day and by night and at all times make us, your servants, reflect always on the love of your commandments, in thanksgiving to glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now and always and unto the ages of ages, Amen. 

You are the life-giving Power and the Source of immortality, Christ God, our Savior. You have granted us to rise in the middle of the night and to confess to you regarding your statutes and righteousness. And now we ask you, Lord our God, make us vigilant and ready with your saints at the morning hour, and giving thanks with them, let us glorify you with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen. 

St. Hovhannes Mantakuni (ca. 420-490) was a welleducated and venerable Catholicos of the Armenian Church. His name is frequently mentioned as a principal figure in the development of the liturgical books of the Armenian Church: the Book of Hours (Zhamagirk), the Book of Hymns (Sharaknots), and the Ritual Book (Mashtots). The ancient prayer above is recited during the Night Service, conducted before sunrise.

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 Sahak Dzorop'orets'i
A Hymnic Prayer for the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak

By the sign of your all-conquering Cross, loving Christ, protect us against the invisible enemy.

For you alone are the king of glory, blessed forever.

On this Cross you spread out your undefiled arms, and you poured out your blood for the salvation of the universe. For you alone are the king of glory, blessed forever.

When, at your second coming, this holy Sign is revealed, make us, your servants, worthy of the second renewal. For you alone are the king of glory, blessed forever.

May your Cross be our refuge with its blazing brilliance. That which is named the tree of life destroyed the enemy and dissolved our death sentence, for the salvation of the universe.

Elevating it, heaven exults and the earth rejoices at the revelation of the universal form of the four arms of the holy Cross, which illuminated the wo~d with rays like the sun.

Jerusalem exulted. The faithful rejoiced, marvelously adorned, for they saw the triumphant sign. All creation shone by its light.

You shined today the light of your unspeakable divinity upon the Cross, 
On the mount of Varak. 
Blessed is the Lord God of our Fathers! 
You made known today the appearance of your awe-inspiring second coming, 
By the sign of your Cross, beaming it on earth. 
Blessed is the Lord God of our Fathers! 
You gave a sign to those in fear, and a weapon against their enemy. 
With it, protect those who believe in your holy name. 
Blessed is the Lord God of our Fathers! 
He adorned today the sign of the Cross 
With a heavenly light brighter than the sun. 
Bless the Lord and exalt him forever! 
He revealed today the redemptive Sign to the angels, 
By descending to the mount of Varak. 
Blessed is the Lord God of our Fathers! 
Come all you saved by the life-giving Cross,
Bowing down to Christ our Savior upon it. 
Blessed is the Lord God of our Fathers! 
 

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. Another Catholicos, Sabak Dzorop'orets'i (ca. 635-703) led the Armenian Church through the cataclysm of the Arab invasions in the late seventh century. The Armenians' turbulent history of foreign domination drew them to contemplate with particular devotion the mystery of the Cross, by which Christ transformed suffering and death into joy and life. This hymn commemorates a miraculous apparition on Mount Varak in Armenia, and the discovery there, of a relic of the true Cross of Christ.
 
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Updated 30 August 1999 ..
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