Shoghakat Church
Շողակաթ եկեղեցի
Shoghakat Church, Ejmiadsin.JPG

Shoghakat Church, August 2009

Basic information
Location Ejmiatsin, Armavir Province, Template:Flag
Geographic coordinates 40°10′05″N 44°18′18″E / 40.168044°N 44.304936°E / 40.168044; 44.304936Coordinates: 40°10′05″N 44°18′18″E / 40.168044°N 44.304936°E / 40.168044; 44.304936
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Architectural description
Architectural type Domed single nave basilica
Architectural style Armenian
Year completed 1694
Dome(s) 1
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official name: Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots
Type: Cultural
Criteria: ii, iii
Designated: 2000 (24th session)
Reference #: 1011
Region: Europe and North America
Armenia location map
Shown within Armenia

The Church of Shoghakat (Armenian: Շողակաթ եկեղեցի; meaning "drop of light") was erected in 1694 by Prince Alamal Sotoretsi during the time of Catholicos Nahapat in the present day city of Etchmiadzin, Armenia in the Armavir Province. This church together with other nearby sites is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The church sits on the holy site where an unnamed nun following Gayané and Hripsimé was martyred during the time of the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in the year 301 AD. The fifth century Armenian historian Agathangelos wrote that the young and beautiful Hripsimé who at the time was a Christian nun in Rome, was to be forcefully married to the Roman emperor Diocletian. She and the abbess Gayané among other nuns fled the tyrant emperor and left to Armenia. The pagan Armenian King Trdat received a letter from Diocletian in which he described her beauty. Trdat discovered where the nuns were hiding, and fell in love with Hripsimé and later Gayané. After their refusal of his advances, Hripsimé and Gayané were tortured and martyred separately at the locations of the churches of their names. The remaining thirty-eight nuns were martyred at the location of Shoghakat. The name of the church refers to the ray of light that appeared during the martyrdom of the nun. During the time that Hripsimé was being tortured, Gayané had told her to "be of good cheer, and stand firm" in her faith. King Trdat was to be later converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of the kingdom.


At the site of the present day church of Shoghakat, there was an earlier church from the 6th-7th century which unfortunately has not survived. It is believed that the structure standing at the site today possibly rests on the foundations of the earlier church. At the southwest of the building, excavations uncovered the remains of a single-chamber church thought to have been a 4th century memorial chapel. It was constructed on a stepped platform. At the southern wall is a small semi-circular apse, which is thought to have served as a southern portico. The bases of the wall piers have features that are characteristic to 4th to 5th century Armenian churches. Two portals to the chapel were also located, one to the south and one to the west.

Shoghakat is a domed single nave basilica with a semi-circular eastern apse that is flanked by narrow chapels. There are four pendentives that help make the transition from the square central bay to the octagonal drum. As in some of the other medieval Armenian churches, the octagonal dome is situated off-center and to the west. There is only one portal into the church, which leads to the gavit.



  • Kiesling, Brady (2005), Rediscovering Armenia: Guide, Yerevan, Armenia: Matit Graphic Design Studio 

See also

External links

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