S. Gayiane Church
Ejmiatsin, Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
AA Vol. 1, Fiche # 050-055.
The Church of S. Gayiane is located at Ejmiatsin in the province of Ayrarat, Vagharshapat, in the Republic of Armenia . It is situated southwest of S. Ejmiatsin, the Mother Church of the Armenians (coord. 40-10 / 44-17). According to the 10th century Armenian historian Kat 'olikos Yovhannes Drasxanakertc'i, it was erected by the Katholikos Ezr (640-641 AD) at the site where the Abbess Gayiane was martyred by the pagan Armenian King Trdat in the 4th century. Historical accounts describe how Gayiane led the Christian maiden Hrip'sime and her companions from Rome to Vagharshapat to escape the persecution of Diocletian and how their subsequent martyrdom eventually led to the conversion of the Armenians to Christianity. In the 7th century, Kat'olikos Ezr demolished the martyrium and erected the present church with a chapel under the east apse to house the saint's relics.
S. Gayiane is a longitudinal, cruciform church with four free-standing piers which support the central cupola. The cross arms radiating from the central bay are vaulted higher than the four corner bays and, combined with the tall drum of the cupola, give the church its cricuform appearance on the exterior. The plan of the church represents a synthesis of the earlier 3-aisle basilican type church and the later central plan church so widespread in Armenia.