In 2015, Pope Francis formally proclaimed St. Gregory of Narek (Grigor Narekatsi), a 10th-century Armenian mystic monk, as a doctor of the church, making him the first Doctor of the Church to have lived outside direct communion with the Bishop of Rome: after all, St. Gregory was a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, not a Catholic.
The Vatican had announced the pope’s decision in February 2015. The title “Doctor of the Church” indicates that a saint’s writings are regarded to offer crucial theological insight for the faith.
Pope Francis proclaimed St. Gregory of Narek a Doctor of the Church on a liturgy held on April 12, 2015. The liturgy was concelebrated with Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, as well as other members of the Armenian community who were preparing to commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide on April 24.
St. Gregory is regarded as one of the leading figures of the Armenian thought and theology. Many of his prayers are included in the Armenian Divine Liturgy. He was born in the Armenian town of Andzevatsik (now located in Turkey) in 950. In his youth, he entered a monastery to be ordained a priest at the age of 25. Over the years of his priestly life, he lived at the Monastery of Narek and taught at its school.
St. Gregory’s best writings include a commentary on the Song of Songs, as well as his “Book of Lamentations”, which is commonly known as “Narek”. Including 95 prayers that have been translated into over 30 languages, “Narek” is widely considered St. Gregory’s best work.
St. Gregory died in Narek in ca. 1005. He is commemorated by the Armenian Church on October 13 and on February 27 by the Roman Catholic Church. He became the 36th saintly theologian to hold the title of a Doctor of the Church.