Order of Saint Gregory the Illuminator
For years the Armenian Apostolic Church had only one official award – Order of St. Grigor Lusavorich (Enlightener). The order was established by Gevorg V Sureniants (1847-1930), the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.
Gevorg V was enthroned in 1911. A few years later he has established the highest award of the Armenian Church – The Order of St. Grigor Lusavorich of two types: for clergymen and laymen.
Each type had two classes.
First awarding was done in 1919-1920 – the years of First Republic of Armenia proclaimed independent by Dashnaktsutyun Party in 1918 and survived until November 1920 when Red Army entered Armenia and joined it to the Russia. The best proof that first Orders of St. Grigor Lusavorich for laymen were awarded in the years of 1919 and 1920 is the red-blue-orange tricolor enamel on the orders – the official flag of First Republic of Armenia.
Both types of St. Grigor Lusavorich Orders of 1st Class were made of different combination of metals like gold, silver, bronze and other alloys incrusted with small diamonds, precious, semi-precious and synthetic stones of different colors. There are several types of the 1st class laymen orders made in different countries within the period of 1918-1920 as Gevorg V has requested to make them out of Armenia using the images and design of the existing original orders initially produced in very small quantity in London by the year of 1919. But all the orders of 1st class have the same inscription “1911” in the center on tri-colored enamel symbolizing independent Armenian flag and Armenian two letters “Գ” and “Ե” meaning Grigor the Fifth. It is obvious that after November 1920 the orders for laymen should be forbidden because of the tri-color symbol of Dashnaktsakan Armenia. From archival research it is also known that after the death of Gevorg V the letters “Գ” and “Ե” only on two orders were replaced in 1935 by letters “Գ” and “Լ” meaning Grigor Lusavorich.
The both types of Orders of St. Grigor Lusavorich of 2nd Class were made of silver without any incrusted stones.
In the period of 1919-1953 about forty most known Armenians from abroad and foreigners all over the world were rewarded by the two types and classes orders (less than 20 of the 1st Class).
In fact the Order of St. Grigor Lusavorich is the first official order of Armenians, Armenian State and Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Orders of St. Grigor Lusavorich of the 1st Class for clergymen and laymen are outstanding masterpieces of Armenian jewelry art.
They are at the same time biggest rarities: it is known only of several existing orders in private and museum collections (less than ten items).
After the death of Gevorg V in 1930 Etchmiadzin for rather long period has stopped awarding of clergymen and laymen with the St. Grigor Lusavorich orders in spite of existing archival information of a couple of condaks (official letters signed and sealed by the Catholicos) with proclamation of awarding with orders for laymen of both classes to several outstanding compatriots from abroad in the 40-s and beginning of 50-s of XX century.
After enthronization of Catholicos Vazgen I in 1955 he had started work in direction of revival of tradition of awarding clergymen and laymen with orders for outstanding services to the nation and the church.
In 1961 Vazgen I has established new orders and awarding system of the AAC.
Since that time the Armenian Apostolic Church has three orders:
- St. Grigor Lusavorich Order (without types and classes) – the highest award of the AAC
- St. Sahak Partev and Mesrob Mashtots Order
- St. Nerses Shnorhali Order
ST. GRIGOR LUSAVORITCH ORDER
1st CLASS FOR LAYMEN (BENEFACTORS)
ISSUED IN 1919-1920
Height: 4,1 cm.
Width: 3 cm.
Weight: 8,64 gr.
Quantity of Diamonds: 11
Quantity of Rubies: 20
Basic Material: Gold, Silver, Golden Plated, Enamel
1st CLASS FOR CLERGYMEN
ISSUED IN 1919-1920
Height: 4,5 cm.
Width: 3,4 cm.
Weight: 10,29 gr.
Quantity of Diamonds: 10
Quantity of Rubies: 27
Basic Material: Silver, Golden Plated, Enamel