By the order of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, the Feast of St. Sarkis the Captain and his soldiers-companions is proclaimed day of blessing of the youth.
Captain St. Sarkis is one of the most beloved saints among the Armenian nation. Together with his 14 soldiers-companions he was martyred for the sake of Christian faith.
In Armenia it is accepted to celebrate the Feast of St. Sarkis not only according to church rites and prayer, but also according to various folk traditions. St. Sarkis the Captain is the patron of youth. Many miracles happen thanks to his intercession. On the day of the feast young people pray the saint asking him to make their prayers audible to God. St. Sarkis is the realizer of the love longings.
Legend about Saint Sarkis
There are many legends about St. Sarkis and one of them is the following.
Poor bard Gharib loved Shah-Sanam who was the daughter of a very rich man. Shah-Sanam loved him, too, but because the bard was poor, the Shah-Sanam’s father was against their marriage as he wished to marry his daughter to a rich man. Bard Gharib decided to go to foreign countries to earn money and to accumulate wealth. But before leaving for foreign countries bard Gharib asked Shah-Sanam to promise to wait for him for seven years providing that if he were late even for one day the young woman might marry according to her father’s will.
That seven-year-period was a very difficult period for bard Gharib. He couldn’t see his beloved, had no news of her, and nevertheless, he wasn’t disappointed and waited for the time when they would meet, make up family and live together all their life.
Working day and night for seven years bard Gharib accumulated wealth and started his way back to the motherland. However, on his way back he faced many difficulties and hardships. It seemed to him that he wouldn’t be able to reach his beloved. So, he prayed with honest heart and righteous mind for the help of St. Sarkis asking.
Listening the prayer of the bard St. Sarkis immediately appeared sitting on his white horse, seated him on the back of the horse (see the photo above) and in one moment brought him to Shah-Sanam. Seeing the bard’s strong will, their sincere and deep love and devotion, Shah-Sanam’s father blessed their union.
On the eve of the feast, in the evening, young people eat salty cookies and don't drink water. The person who appeares in their dream and offers them water will be their future bride or groom.
Salty cookies for the Feast of Saint Sarkis
Also, on the night preceding the feast of St. Sarkis the faithful people place a tray full of flour before the door believing that while passing near their door at dawn St. Sarkis will leave the footprint of his horse on the flour symbolizing the fulfillment of their dreams.
People in love present each other cards, flowers or sweets on the occasion of the feast.On the day of the feast a Divine Liturgy is celebrated in all churches named after St. Sarkis. Following the Liturgy a special ceremony of blessing of young people will be offered.
For more information about Saint Sargis & Saint Sargis Feast see here.