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Biography

Grigor Narekatsi (Armenian: Գրիգոր Նարեկացի; anglicized: Gregory of Narek) (c. 950 – 1003/1011) was an Armenian mystical and lyrical poet, monk, and theologian. He is a saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis in 2015.

The son of a bishop, Narekatsi was educated by a relative based at the Narekavank, the monastery of Narek, on the southern shores of Lake Van (modern Turkey). He was based there almost all his life. He is best known for his Book of Lamentations, a major piece of mystical literature.

Narekatsi was the first major Armenian lyrical poet and is considered the most beloved person in Armenian Christianity. Robert W. Thomson described him as the "most significant poet of the whole Armenian religious tradition," while Jos Weitenberg declared him the "most outstanding theological, mystical and literary figure of Armenian culture." James R. Russell lists Narekatsi as one of the three visionaries of the Armenian tradition, along with Mesrop Mashtots and Yeghishe Charents. Agop Jack Hacikyan et al. note that through his "lively, vibrant, and highly individual style" Narekatsi shaped, refined, and greatly enriched Classical Armenian through his works. According to Hrachik Mirzoyan, Narekatsi created up to 2,500 new Armenian words, although many of which are not actively used.

According to Hacikyan et al. Narekatsi "deserves to be known as one of the great mystical writers of medieval Christendom." Vrej Nersessian considers Narekatsi a "poet of world stature" in the "scope and breadth of his intellect and poetic inventiveness, and in the brooding, visionary quality of his language"—on a par with St Augustine, Dante, and Edward Taylor. This view has been echoed by Levon Zekiyan. Armenian-born Russian critic Karen A. Stepanyan writes that Narekatsi's genius makes him comparable with Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Dostoevsky.[

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