Vardan Mamikonian

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Vardan Mamikonian
Vardan Mamikonyan 3.jpeg
Vardan Mamikonian illustration in 1898 book Illustrated Armenia and Armenians[1]
Artaxata, Kingdom of Armenia
Died451 (aged 63–64)
Avarayr Plain, Vaspurakan, Greater Armenia
Battles/warsBattle of Avarayr
The statue of Vardan Mamikonian in Yerevan.

Vardan Mamikonian (Armenian: Վարդան Մամիկոնեան; 387[2]–451 AD) was an Armenian military leader, a martyr and a saint of the Armenian Church. He is best known for leading the Armenian army at the Battle of Avarayr in 451, which ultimately secured the Armenians' right to practice Christianity.

A member of the Mamikonian family of Armenia's higher aristocracy (known as nakharars), he is revered as one of the greatest military and spiritual leaders of Armenia, and is considered a national hero by Armenians.[3][4] According to Arshag Chobanian "To the Armenian nation, Vartan [...] is the most beloved figure, the most sacred in their history, the symbolical hero who typifies the national spirit."[5] Major Armenian churches are named after Saint Vardan. Equestrian statues of St. Vardan are found in the Armenian capital Yerevan and in the country's second largest city, Gyumri.


Vardan Mamikonian was born in AD 387 at the village of Artashat in the Taron region, north of the city of Mush,[6] to Hamazasp Mamikonian (Armenian: Համազասպ Մամիկոնեան) and to Sahakanush (Armenian: Սահականուշ), daughter of Isaac of Armenia.

After Vardan became Sparapet (supreme commander of the armed forces) in 432, the Persians summoned him to Ctesiphon. Upon his return home in 450, Vardan repudiated the Persian religion[dubious ] and instigated an Armenian rebellion against their Sassanian overlords.

Vardan died in the Battle of Avarayr. He was caught while watching the battlefield from a hill. The Battle of Vardanants was fought on May 26, 451 on the Avarayr Plain in Vaspurakan, between the Armenian army under Vardan Mamikonian and the Sassanid (Persian) rulers. While the Persians were victorious on the battlefield, the battle paved the way for the compact between Persians and Armenians that guaranteed religious freedom for Christian Armenians.

After his death, the insurrection continued under the leadership of Vahan Mamikonian, Vardan brother's son, resulting in the restoration of Armenian autonomy sealed by the Nvarsak Treaty (484), thus guaranteeing the survival of Armenian statehood in later centuries.


Daughter Shushanik[edit]

Vardan Mamikonian is the father of Vardeni Mamikonian, known Shushanik, born around 439 AD. Shushanik married Varsken, a prominent Mihranid feudal lord (pitiakhsh). When Varsken took a pro-Persian position renouncing Christianity and adopting Zoroastrianism, he tried to force his wife Shushanik to convert as well, but she refused vehemently to submit and abandon her Christian faith, so she was put to death in AD 475 on her husband's orders. Shushanik has been canonized by the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church and is venerated by the Armenian Apostolic Church. Known as Saint Shushanik, her feast day is celebrated on October 17.


Consecration as saint[edit]

After his death, Vardan Mamikonian was consecrated as a saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He is also revered[dubious ] by the Armenian Catholic Church as a saint of the church and by Armenian Evangelical Church.

His commemoration day in the official Armenian Church calendar is usually in the month of February and on very rare occasions may fall in the first week of March. The actual Saint Vardan day is a moving day, as it is on last Thursday before Great Lent. Major Christian Armenian churches are named after Saint Vardan, including the St. Vartan Cathedral in New York City. There is also a St. Vartan city park right by the cathedral.

Name use[edit]

Vardan or Vartan (from Middle Persian Wardā),[7] are both common given names for Armenian males, the female version is Vardanoush or Vartanoush. Vardanyan, Vardanian, and Vartanian are also common Armenian family names.

Knights of Vartan Inc. (USA)[edit]

Armenian-American fraternal organization Knights of Vartan was named in honor of Vardan Mamikonian.


  1. ^ Vartan Mamikonian illustration in the 1898 book Illustrated Armenia and Armenians
  2. ^ Grigor A. Sarafian. Battle of Vardanantz and Vardan Mamikonian (original from the University of California) Dbaran "Nwor Or", 1950. p 45
  3. ^ Robert Armot, Alfred Aghajanian (2007). Armenian literature: comprising poetry, drama, folklore, and classic traditions. Los Angeles, CA: Indo-European Pub. p. 5. ISBN 9781604440003.
  4. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (1993). Looking toward Ararat Armenia in modern history. Bloomington: Indiana university press. p. 4. ISBN 9780253207739.
  5. ^ Tchobanian, Archag (1914). The people of Armenia: their past, their culture, their future. G. Marcar Gregory (translator); Viscount Bryce (introduction). London: Dent. pp. view=1up, seq=28 10–11.
  6. ^ Grigor A. Sarafian. Battle of Vardanantz and Vardan Mamikonian (original from the University of California) Dbaran "Nwor Or", 1950. p 45
  7. ^ Chkeidze, Thea. "GEORGIA v. LINGUISTIC CONTACTS WITH IRANIAN LANGUAGES". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 6 January 2016.

Further reading[edit]