Saint Hripsime Church

Saint Hripsime Church was built in Etchmiadzin (Vagharshapat), Armenia on the orders of Catholicos Komitas I Aghtsetsi (r. 615–628) and dedicated to Saint Hripsime (d. c. 290 CE) who was one of Armenia’s first Christian martyrs.

The site had previously been occupied by a Greco-Roman temple similar to the one at Garni as well as a martyrium, which was destroyed by the Sasanian Empire in the 4th century CE.

The current structure was consecrated in 618 CE, and the church contains the tomb of Saint Hripsime.

The architectural complexity of the church is widely considered one of the great achievements of medieval Armenian architecture.

Saint Hripsime Church is one of the oldest churches in what is present-day Etchmiadzin, Armenia. In 2000, the church became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saint Hripsime Church is characterized by a domed tetraconch (enclosed in a rectangle) with two angular niches on its northern and southern sides. Due to its beauty and functionality, it later became a model for other Armenian and orthodox churches throughout what is present-day Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey.

There is still debate among scholars as to when the domes were completed or even restored. Some scholars believe that the domes were restored at some point during the 10th or 11th centuries CE while others believe that the domes are original, dating from the 7th century CE. The only restoration that can be dated with certainty is from 1936.

Saint Hripsime Church, is one of the finest and most complicated medieval Armenian churches.

This is the tomb of Saint Hripsime at the Saint Hripsime Church in Etchmiadzin (Vagharshapat), Armenia. According to Armenian traditions, Saint Hripsime (d. c. 290 CE) was one of the first Christian martyrs in Armenia.

She was of Roman origin and possibly an aristocrat who had taken an early interest in Christianity. She traveled throughout the Roman Empire with 35 other nuns before finally arriving in Armenia. There, she attracted the interest of King Tiridates III (r. 287-330 CE) due to her beauty.

However, because she rejected the advances of the king, she was tortured to death. Hripsime is venerated by the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Roman Catholic Church. She is also venerated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

by James Blake Wiener

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