The Church of Shoghakat was erected in 1694 by Prince Aghamal Sorotetsi during the reign of Catholicos Nahabed I in the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), in Armenia's Armavir Province.
The church sits on the holy site where a group of unnamed nuns following Gayane and Hripsime were martyred during the time of the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in the year 301 AD. The 5th-century Armenian historian Agathangelos wrote that the young and beautiful Hripsime who at the time was a Christian nun in Rome, was to be forcefully married to the Roman emperor Diocletian. She and the abbess Gayane among other nuns fled the tyrant emperor and left to Armenia. The pagan Armenian King Trdat received a letter from Diocletian in which he described her beauty. Trdat discovered where the nuns were hiding, and fell in love with Hripsime and later Gayane. After their refusal of his advances, Hripsime and Gayane were tortured and martyred separately at the locations of the churches of their names. The remaining thirty-eight nuns were martyred at the location of Shoghakat. The name of the church refers to the ray of light that appeared during the martyrdom of the nuns. During the time that Hripsime was being tortured, Gayane had told her to "be of good cheer, and stand firm" in her faith. King Trdat was to be later converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of the kingdom.