Nerses Gratiosus (Šnorhali)

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Archbishop (Catholicos) 116673, saint in the Armenian Church; b. Cilicia, 1102; d. Hromkla, 1173. Nerses IV Klayeci, called Šnorhali or "the Gracious," was educated by his uncle Catholicos Gregory II and the great Armenian doctor Stephen Manuk. Nerses succeeded his brother, Gregory III Pahlavuni, as catholicos and had his residence at Hromkla, on the Euphrates. He was a competent theologian and worked (117072) with Manuel I Comnenus for the reunion of the Byzantine and the Armenian Churches. Manuel sent the Byzantine theologian Theorianus to Hromkla for theological conferences at which Nerses and several bishops accepted the Chalcedonian formula concerning the two natures in Christ, despite the opposition of Syrian delegates. Nerses also accepted the Byzantine calendar for the main ecclesiastical feasts to convince Patriarch michael iii anchialus (117078) of his orthodoxy.

Nerses became an ardent defender of the traditional doctrines of the Armenian Church against monophysitism and was quoted in this context by Pius XII in the encyclical Sempiternus Christus rex (1951). He was one of the early leaders in the Armenian literary renaissance. Among his writings are a complaint about the fall of Edessa (1144), Biblical commentaries, and encyclical letters treating of canonical matters. He was noted as a poet and writer of sacred hymns. His Twenty-four Hour Prayers (the daily prayers of St. Nerses) was translated into 32 languages of the Christian world. Before he died, he named the younger of his two nephews, both bishops, to succeed him. The elder, however, imprisoned his cousin and had himself consecrated catholicos under the name Gregory IV Tegha (For bibliography, see nerses).

Feast: Aug. 3.

[j. m. buckley]