The Armenian bishop Gregory Arsharuni (about 690) ascribes the origin of this feast to St. Gregory the Illuminator (d. 337?), who, he says, substituted it for a pagan feast of Aphrodite called Vartavarh (roseflame), retaining the old appellation of the feast, because Christ opened His glory like a rose on Mount Thabor. It is not found however in the two ancient Armenian calendars printed by Conybeare (Armenian Ritual, 527 sq.). It probably originated, in the fourth or fifth century, in place of some pagan nature-feast, somewhere in the highlands of Asia.
The Armenians at present keep it for three days as one of the five great feasts of the year (seventh Sunday after Pentecost); it is preceded by a fast of six days. Also in the Syriac Church it is a feast of the first class. In the Greek Church it has a vigil and an octave. The Latin Church was slow in adopting this feast ; it is not mentioned before 850 (Martyrology of Wandelbert, Gavanti, "Thesaurus Liturg.", II, August); it was adopted in the liturgy about the tenth century in many dioceses, and was celebrated mostly on 6 August; in Gaul and England, 27 July; at Meissen, 17 March; at Halberstadt, 3 September, etc. In 1456 Callixtus III extended the feast to the Universal Church in memory of the victory gained by Hunyady at Belgrade over the Turks, 6 August, 1456. Callixtus himself composed the Office. It is the titular feast of the Lateran Basilica at Rome ; as such it was raised to a double second class for the Universal Church, 1 Nov., 1911.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online