The Khor Virap Monastery is situated in the homonymous village at the foot of Mount Ararat. Many years ago, the ancient capital of Armenia, Artashat, stood on 12 hills, in front of the mountain. The monastery took its name from a natural cavity, the deep pit in which prisoners sentenced to death were kept. At the end of lll c. King Trdat imprisoned Grigor the Illuminator in this very pit for preaching Christianity in Armenia.
Grigor stayed in the pit for 13 long years and was fed by a window. In the meantime the king ordered to stone to death 37 Roman Christian nuns, guided by Hripsime for preaching Christianity. After the massacre on the Christian Nuns, King Trdat got afflicted by a strange mental illness. According to the legend, furious Trdat lost human appearance and looked like a boar.
One day Tradat’s sister, Khosrovanuysh, has a vision. An angel appeared in her dream and suggested to free Grigor, as he was the only one who could cure her brother. At first the courtiers didn’t believe it, but the dream repeated again. after the fifth dream they decided to go to Artashat. They came to the pit and were surprised to find Grigor still alive.
After Grigor was released from the pit, he was accompanied to the palace. He was washed , dressed and taken to the king. Grigor came to his knees and prayed for the king, and God cured him. People looked at Grigor in complete astonishment: there was no explanation to the power of his spirit and the asked themeselves “How can this man pray for the salvation of his enemy?”
After the illnes Trdat changed completely. Later Grigor himself baptized him. It happened in 301 AD. King Trdat officially banned pagan beliefs and proclaimed Christianity as the only state religion. And in the exact place of the pit The Khor Virap Monastery was built.