Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery is in Kotayk province. It is about 40km to the south-east of Yerevan. The exact time of constructing Geghard isn’t known. They say that it was founded by St. Gregory the Enlightener in the 4th century. Initially, it was called Ayrivank or Cave Monastery. There were about 140 caves in that place where hermits lived. Many of the caves were pulled down by earthquakes. According to a legend a brother and sister from a noble family decided to leave their secular life and build a church in that place. It was difficult for them to choose a suitable place for the church. There were cliffs everywhere and they asked God to help them. Waking up in the morning, they saw their pickaxe stuck in the rock. They carved out a temple with their hard work where they lived until their last days. Later the church was called the Holy Mother of God. So Holy Mother of God Church is the oldest in the Geghard Monastic Complex.
The main construction of the Geghard Monastic Complex is the Catholic Church which was built in the 13th century. Underneath the north wall of the church there is a spring of miraculous water which has been worshiped since pagan times.
In the 13th century a piece of the spear, with which a Roman soldier had stabbed crucified Jesus, was brought to Ayrivank. Because of that relic spear, Ayrivank was called Geghardavank as the Armenian for spear is “geghard”.
The relic of the spear is now preserved in the Museum of the Mother Cathedral in Etchmiadzin.

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