The Legend of Saghmosavank Monastery

Back in the time when a multitude of barbarians and pillagers occupied the Earth, there was one particular powerful and violent ruler by the name of Tamerlane. When he and his massive army invaded Armenia, they crushed the people, looted temples and burned people’s homes. Even the precious parchment manuscripts, which contained the history of the Armenian nation, were not spared.

Immediately after this bombardment, Tamerlane became seriously ill. Becoming a pitiful coward of a man, he was afraid of the realization of death fast approaching. He promised to grant a wish, within his power, to anyone who could cure him of this deathly illness. But no one could identify what it was that had the once strong conqueror close to death.

The local monastery, Saghmosavank, had a priest who came forth and told Tamerlane he had the cure. However, he would only administer the cure if Tamerlane agreed to his conditions. He told Tamerlane that he must return the stolen Armenian parchment manuscripts and books to where they belong; he must release as many captured people as the priest could fit in his monastery, and last of all; Tamerlane and his army must leave the land of Armenia, never to return.

Tamerlane quickly agreed to the terms, and so the priest of Saghmosavank went on to cure him. He used prayers, secret herbs and charms.

Then Tamerlane unwillingly returned the stolen manuscripts and books, and then organized to return the captives.

The prisoners went into the monastery one by one. A dozen went in, a hundred went in, and still more. They entered and did not leave.

Tamerlane became furious; he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “What is this?” he spluttered. “How could such a small temple accommodate tens of thousands of people? What miracle is this? Who are these people? We must leave this place immediately before some other catastrophic miracles begin to happen.”

A total of 70,000 prisoners entered the monastery. The priest of Saghmosavank is said to have turned the prisoners into doves, and then released them through a narrow church window. The doves then flew far to their native mountains, landed on their homes and turned back into people.

The land of Armenia was again peaceful, and free from Tamerlane and his army.

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