For the travelers heading to the East, Armenia, first of all, was the cradle of mankind after the Flood, where Noah's ark rested on Mount Ararat, and where God's covenant with people was established; it was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity, and by Divine will, the Mother See Cathedral (Etchmiadzin) was built on the site indicated by the Only Begotten Son of God. The Armenian land gave birth and kept legends that were of great interest for the foreigners who visited Armenia. This inquisitive view from the outside, fixed in a written form, made it possible to save a whole layer of national culture, which could have been forgotten in the environment where it arose. Once recorded by the traveler, the information began to function within the framework of the travel genre, adding to the database about Armenia. The intra-genre circulation of recorded information led to the development of stable themes and images in the travel literature relating to the period of Christianization of Armenia (stories about the preaching activity and martyrdom of St. Bartholomew and St. Jude-Thaddeus, about Tsar Trdat and Gregory the Illuminator, about the imprisonment of the latter in Khor Virap, about the martyrdom of the Hripsimian virgins, about the construction of the Echmiadzin Cathedral at the place indicated by the son of God who appeared in a dream to Gregory the Illuminator, about the spring of St. James, about the ascent of St. James to Ararat in order to see Noah's ark, about the Ararat martyrs, about the Forty Martyrs of Sebastе, etc.), which gives reason to talk about the canonization of the folklore and literary material retold by the travelers. The travelers expressed a particular interest towards the history of the Holy Spear and the stories and legends associated with it. The article deals with texts, from the notes of European and Russian travelers, relating to the greatest Christian relic, the history of which goes back to Golgotha – the Holy Spear, which was brought to Armenia by the Apostle Thaddeus. According to the legends recorded by travelers, the Holy Spear, being a sacred relic guarded by the Higher Powers, also has healing properties. Notes of travelers help to recreate the history of the “wandering” of the Holy Spear, clarify the dating of its location (initially the Spear was kept in the Monastery Ayrivank, which later was renamed to Geghardavank (Holy Spear Monastery), and then it was transferred to the Etchmiadzin Cathedral).
Key words: Holy Spear (Geghard), Geghardavank – Etchmiadzin Cathedral, notes of travelers, sacred artifact, legends
About the author
Gohar L. Karagyozyan – Ph.D (Philology), Senior Researcher at the Institute of Literature after M. Abeghyan of The National Academy of Sciences of Armenia;