“Deep pit” or “deep well” known as Khor Virap is one of the unique cultural heritages of Armenia. Th» monastery is located in Ararart plain, and the border with Turkey can be clearly seen from there. This is a notable historical place, which, before the adoption of Christianity, was used as a prison for the worst criminals. Gregory the Illuminator, preaching the word of God, Christianity throughout the pagan Armenia, was imprisoned in one of the pits for being the son of Anak who murdered the king Tiridates the 3rd’s father. Years passed away and everybody forgot about him, but he survived 13 years in pit due to a Christian widow who regularly gave a loaf of bred through a hole of the pit.
How was the Illuminator set free?
King Tiridates, being a devoted pagan persecuted all Christians and tortured all Saint Virgins including Gyane, Hripsime, Shoghakat etc. Once he got sick and his sister Khosrovadukht saw a dream vision where the angel told her that the only person who could bring end to the King’s torments was the man kept in a pit… “When he comes he will teach you the remedies for all your ills” said the angel. No one could believe that Gregory was still alive, but what a miracle… when some people were sent to the pit, they found out Gregory still alive but in a miserable state. He was taken to cure the king with his divine intervention.
And after all, in 301 AD the whole nation adopted Christianity as a state religion becoming the first nation in the world who did that. Everybody, including the whole royal family with Tiridates the 3rd leadership, was baptized as Christians by Gregory the Illuminator.
Now the fort like complex includes Nerses chapel dedicated to st. Astvatsatsin /5th century/ and St. Gevorg Chapel basilica church under which the famous pit is situated. When you visit this spiritual place, don’t be afraid to go down the holy pit and feel the power of Christianity there.
This year during his pilgrimage to Armenia, Pope of all Catholics around the world included the sight in his schedule and in the First Christian Country lit a candle for the world peace.