SAINT HRIPSIME CHURCH
state index 3.2.17
St. Hripsime Church is situated in the eastern part of town Vagharshapat. According to a legend, Hripsime, together with Christian virgins, avoiding from the persecutions of Emperor Diokghetianos (284 ‒ 305), finds refuge in Armenia and preaches Christianity here. In Armenia she was persecuted by the great Armenian King Trdat III and was killed together with 32 virgins who were adherent of the same religion. Later, King Trdat and Gregory the Illuminator erected a chapel — semi-underground burial-vault. The latter has a hipped roof with four stone pillars. Gregory the Illuminator ranks Hripsime and the other virgins among the saints and the day of their martyrdom was included in the church list of “ten”. Afterwards, in 618, Catholicos Komitas I Aghtsetsi constructed the Church of Hripsime and left two construction inscriptions.
The church belongs to the most perfected type of church constructions of medieval Armenia. From inside it is cruciform. It is formed of four apses, attached to the dome-covered volume, and of corner niches of the circle section. The interior space is integral, large, compressed and slender. From the exterior it is enclosed in a rectangular volume. In the corners there are four rooms which are connected with the praying-hall by the corner niches. The Church of Hripsime has the following constructional system: the curved surfaces of the cupola, resting on the four apses and niches, are the main expressive means of its artistic image. The church differs from the churches of its type by a wide-based (10.1 m.), high drum, by small towers attached to the drum in the corners of the dome square, by a harmonious transition of volumes from the low equilateral volumes up to the calotte of the dome.
The monument was semi-ruined in the XVII c. In 1653 Catholicos Philipos repaired the church and erected an open narthex in front of the western entrance. In 1776 the church was surrounded by a brick wall and pyramids, and in 1880 the eastern and southern walls were built of smoothly hewn stone, in 1894 the dwelling-house and the subsidiary structures of the yard were constructed. Considerable repairs were carried out in 1898. In 1958 the plaster which was distorting the interior appearance of the church was cleaned. The fragments of the sculpted cornice of the Hellenistic temple testify to the existence of a pagan temple in the place of Hripsime Church.
There is a graveyard dated at IV–XIX, at a distance of 50 m. to the east of the church.
The main literature on the monument:
Marutyan S., The Church of Avan and Similar Monuments, Yerevan, 1976.
Jakobson A., Essays on the History of Armenian Architecture of V–XVII cc., M‒L., 1950.
Eremyan A., The Matter of Dating the Cathedral Church of Avan. ‒ “BSS”, 1969, N 3.
Eremyan A., The Church of Hripsime, Yerevan, 1955.