The Armenian church celebrates the Feast of St. Vartan the Captain and his 1036 Companions, which marks their martyrdom 1551 years ago in the battle of Avarayr, fighting for the freedom of conscience and religion for the Armenian Nation.
It was to be the first testimony of many to follow that the Armenians were a people who freely chose Christ, remained steadfast in their Christian faith, and would not betray that faith for any ransom. “Vartanants” as it is commonly called, is one of the most sacred feasts of the Armenian people.
In the Armenian Church, the Feast day of St. Vartan the Captain and Companions is also celebrated as the Naming Day of His Holiness Karekin II. To mark the occasion, at the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, a Pontifical Prayer is offered before the Holy Altar of Descent.
His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, has issued a message on this occasion, which reads:
Our beloved children,
Today is the Commemoration Day of St. Vardan the Warrior and His Companions in our Apostolic Holy Church. The sainted companions of St. Vartan are not just history, but the sublime presence of the spirit in our lives Nothing inspires our Armenian Christian identity as much as their testimony of faith and patriotic love.
In the fifth century, they bravely withstood the terrible trial with the confidence that our people will remain bound to their homeland and the Sacred Name of Christ with eternal love; as “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Today, the sainted companions of St. Vartan deliver their message to us from the depths of the centuries, that we must be courageous and productive, strengthened by Christ and with the warm feelings of love; in the protection of our sanctities and values, as well as, in our sacred duty and responsibility of strengthening and prospering our Fatherland.
Their memory calls us to multiply and unite our efforts for the vivid future of our people, for our desires, for our martyred children, who fought with the bright and immortal spirit of St. Vardan the Warrior and His Companions, and martyred in the War of Artsakh.
We ask the Lord our Savior, that through the intercession of St. Vardan the Warrior and His Companions, keep our homeland in peace, our people united in love, strong in hope and faith, under the auspices of His Holy Right Hand; and may our hearts rejoice in patriotic and national achievements and victories.