"Haismavourk" The Armenian Synaxary of Ter Israel

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[pp. 187-188]

"HAISMAVOURK" THE ARMENIAN SYNAXARY OF TER ISRAEL[1]

(13th cent. A.D.)

7 Araz (14 January) Feast of the Saint Holy Monks of Sinai and of the Mountain of Raithou (Ruth).

T. : PO 19 4


The anthropophagous barbarians, who used to perform impure sacrifices and were living between Arabia and Egypt and between the deserts of Jordan and Mount Sinai, suddenly fell on the anchorite fathers, held them, and ill-treated them, and asked them for silver and goods. They could only show themselves and what they were wearing on their bodies. Some were clothed in old skins which only covered their breast and shoulders; others wore mats which covered only the back leaving the head, hands and feet bare.

The barbarians, in their fury, brandished their swords and killed them ruthlessly, both those who were living [on herbs] on the mountain, those who lived hidden in caverns, and those who had sought refuge in the churches.

As for the old monks and young people, they drove them away to immolate them to the stars which they worshipped.

I shall tell you about the way in which they massacred them. To some of them they split the head into two parts with a blow of the sword; to some others they cut off their hands and feet, chopping them from the shoulders [p. 188] and the legs; others they pierced through the heart by plunging the sword into their breast and making it come out at the back.

These are the horrible deaths suffered by the holy fathers of the desert who had for a long time lived on the mountains before they had been attacked by those anthropophagous barbarians, and followers of impure rites. (PO 19, pp. 33 - 35).

  1. Ter Israel, an Armenian learned man of the 13th century, compiled a collection of Lives of Saints (Haismavourk) , for which he critically utilized earlier sources. “Haismavourk” was later adulterated by the addition and interpolation of fanciful stories, and was published in 1706 and 1730. The text edited by Dr. J. Bedjan in PO 19 is based on a good copy of Ter Israel’s original work.