Saint Sarkis Monastery of Ushi

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Saint Sarkis Monastery
Սուրբ Սարգիս Վանք
Ushi Monastery.JPG
Ruins of the Saint Sarkis monastic complex at Ushi
Saint Sarkis Monastery of Ushi is located in Armenia
Saint Sarkis Monastery of Ushi
Shown within Armenia
Basic information
Location Ushi village, Aragatsotn Province,  Armenia
Geographic coordinates 40°20′51″N 44°21′36″E / 40.3475°N 44.3601°E / 40.3475; 44.3601Coordinates: 40°20′51″N 44°21′36″E / 40.3475°N 44.3601°E / 40.3475; 44.3601
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Architectural description
Architectural style Armenian
Completed 7th-13th centuries

Saint Sarkis Monastery (Armenian: Սուրբ Սարգիս Վանք or Ուշի Վանք; also Surp Sarkis Vank) is a large monastic complex (45 x 54 meters) located just outside the village of Ushi in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. It sits at the far side of what was once a settlement site from the 3rd - 1st millennia BC. The monastery is a well known pilgrimage site, and was one of the centers of spiritual education in Armenia. Many fine examples of early Armenian architecture from various periods can be seen around the complex.

The monastery is known to have had a brief visit during September 1734 by Abraham Kretatsi during the time while he was serving the Catholicos Abraham II while on his pilgrimage to a number of monasteries at the Catholicos' request. The Catholicos had said to him, "I have not traveled anywhere for a long time and my heart is very heavy." In Kretratsi's writings he says that:

"Two or three days after savoring this spiritual and corporal happiness, we went to the church of Saint Sarkis in Ushi. While we were there, Hakobyan, the melik of Yerevan, who had been summoned at the Catholicos, arrived.

A horseman arrived from Tbilisi the same day. He brought the news, as well as an official letter to inform us, that Isak Pasha, has, without any reason, had ordered the strangling of Ashichal Bek, the melik of our people the Armenians in Tbilisi. He had kept his corpse hanging on the city gate until he received 50,000 kurush which he had permitted he body to be buried."

History and architecture[edit]

The Monastery of Saint Sarkis consists of Saint Sarkis Chapel of the 10th century, Surp Astvatsatsin Church ("Church of the Holy Mother of God"), an adjacent gavit of the 11th-12th centuries, vestibule, belfry, refectory, vaulted guest-chamber, housing for monks, and utility rooms. A fortification wall built in 1654 with fortified two-storey circular towers in three of the corners surrounds the monastic complex. During the earthquakes of 1679 and 1827, the monastery was reduced to ruins. The only structure left standing was the single-nave vaulted chapel that houses the grave of Saint Sarkis. He was originally buried in the village town of Namyan, but in the 5th century a delegation led by Saint Mesrop moved the remains of Saint Sarkis and interred them at this site. The chapel was damaged and left in poor condition due to the earthquakes, and shows some signs of emergency repairs.

Restoration work was done on the chapel in December 2003 to spring of 2004, and recent archaeological excavations have started to take place under the patronage of Archbishop Shahen Ajemian headed by Frina Babayan. Archaeologists have cleared the collapsed structures and are currently (as of Aug. 2009) working to piece together parts of the collapsed church and gavit.

Upon the hill nearby, there are the remains of an Iron Age fortress. It is almost nonexistent except for portions of the collapsed walls that once surrounded the fortress. Nearby down the main road that leads back into Ushi from the monastery, is a small chapel from the 10th century.

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