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Saint Sahag

Left an orphan at a very early age, St. Sahag received an excellent literary education in Constantinople, particularly in the Eastern languages. Meanwhile, St. Mesrob was born in the village of Hatzegatz in the province of Daron. In his early years, he learned both Greek and Persian and served in the Armenian royal court. Later, he decided to enter the ranks of the clergy, and with some other young men he went to preach in the province of Koghtn around 395 A.D. During this period, he felt the great need of the Armenian people for an alphabet of their own, so he petitioned Catholicos Sahag Partev, and together they requested the aid of King Vramshabouh.


Saint Mesrob

Mesrob traveled throughout Greater and Lesser Armenian and the Mediterranean world in quest for the lost scriptures. In Edessa, he found some of the scrolls in old Armenian, and after carefully reviewing them and exploring the possibilities, he began to create skeleton of the Armenian alphabet in 405. However, it did not meet the needs of the Armenian language. According to tradition, while meditating in a cave near the village of Palu, Mesrob had a vision, in which “the hand of God wrote the alphabet in letters of fire.”

Armenia at his time was then passing through a grave crisis. In 387 it had lost its independence and been divided between the Byzantine Empire and Persia; each division had at its head an Armenian but feudatory king. In the Byzantine territory, however, the Armenians were forbidden the use of the Syriac language, until then exclusively used in divine worship: for this the Greek language was to be substituted, and the country gradually Hellenized; in the Persian districts, on the contrary, Greek was absolutely prohibited, while Syriac was greatly favoured. In this way the ancient culture of the Armenians was in danger of disappearing and national unity was seriously compromised. 

To save both, Sahag encouraged Mesrob to invent the Armenian alphabet and began to translate the Christian Bible. Immediately after the discovery of the alphabet, the Holy Translators completed the translation of the Bible in 425. The first words written in the Armenian language were from the Book of Proverbs: “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding” (Proverbs 1:2). They also opened schools to teach the newly-created alphabet. St. Sahag had already established schools for higher education with the aid of disciples whom he had sent to study at Edessa, Melitene, Constantinople, and elsewhere. 

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