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 After this vision and a warning from  on  high,  the  great  queen  Mariam, wife of Vasak of Syunik, came to St. Mashtots and, having persuaded him, built a richly ornamented church called the Twelve Apostles, next a second called the Mother of God.   She furnished them abundantly, and made them the house of God and the refuge of pious men, in the year 323/AD 874. Per Kirakos Gandzaketsi (Tr. R. Bedrosian), "... lord Mashtots was katholikos for one year. He was a blessed and virtuous man, filled with brilliance and wisdom and he dwelled on the island in lake Sevan practicing great asceticism-wearing a single garment and walking barefoot-for forty years he ate no bread and drank no water. It was lord Mashtots who established the book (which is called Mashtots after him), gathering together all the ordered prayers and readings, arranged with an appendix which itself has all the orders of Christian faith. Reaching a ripe age, he gloriously reposed in Christ."

   The monastery fell on harder  times,  and  there  is  a  terrible  tale  that,  in  the mid-18th century, the monks were ashamed lest the visiting katholikos see their collection of ragged and water-damaged manuscripts, and so secretly dumped them in the lake.  The Russians' tame French Caucasus expert Jean-Marie Chopin (Ivan Shopen) reported that in 1830 the monastery had an abbot, five monks, 5 archdeacons, 7 protodeacons, 1 priest, and 11 servers. He noted that the monastic regime on the island was exceptionally strict, that meat and wine were banned, as well as women and youths. The monastery therefore served as reformatory for monks Ejmiatsin had banished for their transgressions.  Chopin listed the monastery's property: five villages, four mills, a ruined dairy, 46 farm animals, and gardens and fields. Eli Smith reported in 1830 that one of the monks was a dedicated teacher, and manuscripts were still copied there by hand as late at 1850.
   Passing on the steps a monument to a 20th c. navy captain, lonely commander of the Sevan fleet, one reaches first the Arakelots (Apostles) church and then Astvatsatsin (Mother of God), the latter with various khachkar fragments in the courtyard.

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