Lori Region is Rich in Legends: The People Still Believe in Them.
According to the legend, in the 1st century the Apostle Thomas, a disciple of Christ, came to Odzun and lived here for some time.
He had a vision in which he was told to go to India, where he would be martyred. The residents of Odzun were against his departure. It is said that he had some of Christ’s clothes with him and, as a consolation, the apostle left the Savior’s child-time diaper here, which was wrapped under the tabernacle.
Above the southern door there is an inscription: “I, Thomas, brought this diaper here” and an inscription in big letters “Tovma”. The entrance is named after him.
There are interesting legends about Hovhannes Odznetsi, a lawyer, political scientist, public figure, diplomat. It is said that a huge dragon attacks the village.
The 7 students from Odznetsi take turns to help the residents, but the dragon kills them. Hovhannes strikes the dragon with his cane and curses it, saying: “Become a stone, and water will come out of your navel, and heal people.”
After that, the dragon became a stone, and healing water still comes out of his body. This place is called Snake Navel, Odzadzor or Vishapadzor, where the layer resembling a huge dragon is clearly visible. People still believe that the soul of St. Hovhannes protects the village.
Near the village of Dsegh, in the forest, near the medieval tombs, there is a small chapel, St. Harutyun, which the people call “Crow’s Ark”.
According to the preserved legend, people cooked food here, did not notice that a snake fell into the pot and poisoned it. Seeing that, the crow threw himself into the cauldron so that people could see and not eat the poisoned food. After that the chapel was called “Crow’s Ark”.
The Byzantine Church has always tried to dominate the Armenian Apostolic Church, to challenge whose faith is true. According to the legend, in the presence of the Greek Patriarch, Catholicos Hovhan Odznetsi throws the relic of the Lord’s cross into a boiling cauldron, saying that whoever can remove the relic from the boiling water by hand, his faith is true. Greek patriarch can not remove the relic․ His hand burns. Odznetsi makes a sign cross, then removes the cross from the boiling pot. After seeing this, a Greek prince named Vasil, who had brought a threatening note from Byzantine Emperor to the Odznetsi, renounced his religion, spent many years in a cave dwelling, and then built a monastery there, which the people called Horomayr (Roman: Horomay or Roman).
According to another legend, the cross of Peter Getadardz was brought to Horomayr, with which he changed the course of the river during the water blessing, surprising the Byzantine emperor and the people. After that the monastery was called St. Nshan. By the way, according to the locals, the cold spring that starts from the church is healing.
Many legends have been preserved about Akhtala. According to one, Queen Tamar of Georgia is buried in a tomb built in a rock in the area of Lenktemur Fortress in Akhtala. Preferring to keep the place of the tomb secret, she was buried by a small number of people, after which the soldiers destroyed it so that no one would know the place of the queen’s grave. The basis of the legend is the fact that during the reign of the queen Akhtala belonged to her beloved Ivane Zakaryan, therefore the queen’s body could have been buried there.
According to folklore, the Akhtala’s copper was used to create America’s Statue of Liberty, as well as the four-horse sculpture on the façade of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, which was a gift of the Armenian King Trdat I to Emperor Nero of Rome in the 1st century. In addition, the people of Akhtala believe that the father of French President de Gaulle lived in their city, since a mining engineer by the same name worked in Akhtala in the 1880s.
The name of Akhtala, according to folk etymology, means full of diseases. According to the legend, pilgrims died one after another after the curse of one monk, after that the monastery was called Akhtal, that is, full of diseases. Or, according to another legend, the bandits of Lenktemur captured the city, killed most of its population by sword, after which the destroyed city was filled with disease and was called Akhtala.
Another legend tells that in the 14th century Lenktemur invaded Akhtala with his bandits. Entering the Holy Mother of God, he did not see anyone, but heard the cry of a child. At first he thought that the monastery was crying because of the atrocities he had committed, but soon he realized that people were hiding in a secret place within the walls. He did not find what he was looking for, he ordered to shoot at the wall with a cannon. As a result, the face of the image of the Mother of God was damaged, but the monastery, miraculously, was not destroyed, it remained standing.
An interesting legend has been preserved about the visit of the Armenian king Artaxerxes I to Akhtala. In the 2nd century BC, King Artashes visited Akhtala and wanted to see the copper mine. The craftsman working for Kura, seeing the royal ring of Artashes, very quickly and skillfully made a ring like his from copper. Admiring the mastery of the coppersmith, the king gave his ring to him. Inspired by this legend, in 2010 a bronze sculpture of rings was erected in the territory of St. Astvatsatsin Monastery, a monument to wedding rings. The two rings unite the pomegranate as a fruit of the tree of life, a symbol of fertility. According to the established tradition, the newlyweds, with the expectation of a happy life, pass through the rings.
An interesting legend has been created about the construction of Haghpat. According to that, the prince invited a master to Sanah to build a monastery.
The master comes with his son and starts working. At work, they quarrel, and the son leaves, after which he is invited to build another monastery. When the high walls of the new monastery become visible from Sanahin, the boy’s father learns that his son is the author. He comes to see the new monastery.
Approaching the unfinished monastery, looking at it for a long time, the father gives his assessment – “Hakh pat”, which meant a “solid wall”. They reconcile, and the name of the monastery remains Haghpat.