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The Armenian Church is an independent Christian church, also known as the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. Its head is the Catholicos, who resides at Holy Etchmiadzin, near Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

Christianity was declared the state religion of Armenia in AD 301. Armenia thus became the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion. This was largely due to the efforts of St. Gregory the Illuminator. Born a nobleman, he converted Armenia’s king Tiridates III, who had formerly perse-cuted the Christians. Conversion of the rest of the population soon followed. It was St. Gregory who built the Mother Church at Etchmiadzin in AD 303.

Until the 5th century, Christian worship in Armenia was conducted in Greek or Syriac, since there was no Armenian alphabet, hence no written language. In AD 404, St. Mesrob (at that time a monk) completed an alphabet of 36 letters. His objective was to translate the Bible into Armenian, and the golden age of classical Armenian literature began shortly thereafter.

Persia reduced Armenia to vassaldom and in AD 450 issued a decree ordering all Christians to embrace the Zoroastrian religion. The Armenians, under Prince Vartan Mamigonian, rose in revolt. This culminated in the Battle of Avarayr. Vartan lost the battle, but under the leadership of his nephew, Vahan, the Armenians continued the war for 30 years. They won a decisive victory through a peace accord in AD 484, and Armenian Christianity survived. St. Vartan Day-which is celebrated in February of each year-commemorates the battle and is a major Armenian holiday.

The Armenian Church has traditionally maintained two patriarchates: one in Jerusalem and another in Istanbul. In Jerusalem, the Armenian Patriarchate is the guardian of the Holy Places in the possession of the Armenians. It is also one of the three principal custodians of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other important shrines and sanctuaries in the Holy Land. The Patriarchate of Constantinople serves a community of approximately 50,000 Armenians living in Istanbul.
Holy Etchmiadzin remains the central spiritual authority for millions of Armenian Christians living in diaspora communities around the globe. In recent years, the Armenian Church has taken an active role in the ecumenical dialogue among the clergy of all faiths.

The Church entered its most recent era of leadership on October 27, 1999, when Armenian Christians elected His Holiness Karekin II as the 132nd Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, pontiff of the worldwide Armenian Church. He succeeded the deceased Catholicos Karekin I, who died in late June 1999 after leading the church for 4 years.

Holy Etchmiadzin & St. Gregory the Illuminator

The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the pre-eminent center of authority in the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church. Located near the capital of Yerevan in the Republic of Armenia, it is composed of (a) the Mother Cathedral of the entire Armenian Church; (b) a monastery and monastic brotherhood; (c) the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians; and (d) various religious and cultural institutions, such as the Kevorkian Theological Seminary and a museum.
The cathedral dates back to the 4th century, and is reckoned the oldest Christian cathedral in world. Although the current sanctuary was erected in the 1600s, remnants of the 4th-century altar have been unearthed beneath the present structure.

In its capacity as the residence of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos (the pontiff of the Armenian Church) of All Armenians, Holy Etchmiadzin is known as the “Catholicate of All Armenians.” It became the seat of the Catho­licate of the entire Armenian nation in the 4th century, following the conversion of King Tiridates III to Christianity by St. Gregory the Illuminator in ad 301.
According to the chronicler Agathangelos, soon after Armenia’s conver­sion to Christianity, St. Gregory had a vision of the Son of God. Appearing as a heroic figure of light surrounded by a mighty angelic host, Christ struck the ground with a golden ham­mer, indicating the place where the Mother Cathedral of the new Christian nation was to be established. The name Etchmiadzin—literally, “where the Only Begotten descended”—refers to this episode.

Gregory was formally designated as the supreme head of the Church, and was sent to Caesarea to be ordained a bishop. He thus became the first in an unbroken line of 131 catholicoi (or “universal bishops”) of the Armenian Church. He built the first Christian cathedral in Vagharshapat, near Mount Ararat, then the capital of Armenia. Having accomplished his mission and advanced in age, he then retired from active life to live as a hermit until his death.

Who brought Christianity to Armenia?

Christianity was brought to the kingdom of Armenia by two of Jesus’ Apostles, Thaddeus and Bartholomew in first century A.D.

When did the Armenian nation become Christian?

Christianity became the national religion in 301 A.D.

Who was responsible for Armenians embracing Christianity?

St. Gregory the Enlightener was imprisoned for years, and upon his release he converted King Tiridates III, by healing the king of an incurable affliction through the power of God. After, the king proclaimed Christianity the official religion of Armenia, making it the first country with a national Christian church, the pair helped spread the religion.

Who were Hripsime and the virgins?

Hripsime was one of a group of nuns who lived in Rome under the direction of their superior, Gayane, around 284-305 A.D. When Roman Emperor Diocletian tried to force the beautiful Hripsime to marry him, the nuns fled to Armenia. There, the Armenian king, Drtad, fell in love with Hripsime’s beauty and decided she should be his wife. But the nun refused to break her vows to God by marrying the king. King Drtad tortured Gayane, trying to get her to permit Hripsime to marry him, but Gayane refused to give in. Eventually King Drtad had Gayane, Hripsime, and the 32 nuns tortured and killed because they chose their faith and devotion to God over the wishes of a king.

What was the Battle of Avarayr?

Avaraya is the site in southeastern Armenia where St. Vartan and 1,036 noblemen fell defending the Christian faith against the Persian Empire.

Why is Mt. Ararat important to Armenians?

Mt. Ararat, now in Turkey, but once part of the ancient Armenian kingdom, is traditionally known as the resting place of Noah’s Ark.

Why was the Armenian alphabet created?

Until the 5th century, Christian worship in Armenia was conducted in Greek or Syriac, since there was no Armenian alphabet, hence no written language. In 404 A.D., St. Mesrob (at that time a monk) completed an alphabet of 36 letters. His objective was to translate the Bible into Armenian, and the golden age of classical Armenian literature began shortly thereafter.

What is Holy Muron?

Holy Muron is oil from extracts of more than 40 different kinds of plants that is blessed by the Catholicos once every seven years.

Where is the spiritual home of the Armenian Church?

The Armenian Church is headquartered in the Monastery of Holy Etchmiadzin in the Armenian city of Etchmiadzin.

Who is the head of the Armenian Church?

The Catholicos is the leader of the Armenian Church; currently it is His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. He is the 132nd Catholicos.

How is the Catholicos chosen?

Delegates from each diocese of the Armenian Church gather to chose the Catholicos. The current Catholicos was elected to a life term on October 27, 1999.

Why are there two Catholicoi?

The chief bishop of the Armenian Church, called the Catholicos (“universal bishop”), is at the head of the Armenian Church hierarchy, and resides at Holy Etchmiadzin in Armenia. The original title of the Catholicos was “chief bishop of Armenia,” which was replaced with “Catholicos of Armenia,” presumably in the fifth century. The emergence of diocese outside Armenia in the 10th and 11th centuries was responsible for the use of the title “Catholicos of All Armenians.” Since ancient times, the Armenian Church recognized as autonomous administrative jurisdictions certain areas with Armenian Christian inhabitants living outside the geo-political borders of Armenia proper. The heads of such churches, while remaining in very close contact with the center of the Armenian Church, was also called “catholicoi.” A good example of this category of catholicate is that of Caucasian Albania, whose faith liturgy and traditions and language were one and the same with the Church of Armenia, since the people were Armenians. For centuries, from as early as the 5th century, the catholicoi of Albania were ordained by the catholicoi of Armenia. The tradition of local catholicates with specific geographic boarders has been maintained until our own time. The Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia, originally in Cilicia, was, after World War II, given the right to establish its jurisdiction over Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus, regions that belonged to the Catholicate of all Armenians and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

What are the Patriarchates?

There are two patriarchates in the Armenian Church, one in Jerusalem and the other in Istanbul, Turkey. Archbishop Torkom Manoogian is the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Archbishop Mesrob II Mutafyan is the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Why is there an Armenian presence in Jerusalem?

Armenia is one of the oldest Christian countries, so for centuries its monks and nuns have played an important part in maintaining many special sites in the Holy Land. The Armenian presence in Palestine is attested from as early as the 4th century. There were also inscriptions, artwork and graffiti in Armenian from as early as the 5th century. Over the centuries, the Armenians founded more than 70 monasteries and presently are serving as the guardians of the Holy Sites. The Armenian Quarter covers 1/5 of the old city of Jerusalem and the Armenian Patriarchate is in charge of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher with the Greeks and Latins.

Armenian Evangelical Church
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Armenian Evangelical Church

In 1846, 40 Armenians, 37 men and 3 women, founded Armenian Evangelical Church in Bera. The first Armenian Church founded in Northern America was Armenian Evangelical Church which was called Armenian Martirosats Church (1881). Members and pastors of all Armenian Evangelical churches of America were immigrants from Kilikia and Armenia who survived genocide and persecution. [...]

Armenian Quarter Jerusalem
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Armenians in Jerusalem

One of the consequences of the rise of the Cilician kingdom was a new prominence for the Armenian secular and religious community of Jerusalem. An Armenian presence in that city can be traced back as far as the first centuries of the Christian era. By the seventh century numerous Armenian monasteries had been built there. [...]

Khachkar
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The Stone Cross – Armenian Khachkars

Following the conversion of Armenia to Christianity, the wooden cross, symbol of the new faith, was erected in the various shrines of Armenia. The earliest attempts to replace the wooden cross with a stone cross date back to the period between the 4th and 7th centuries. These stone crosses are represented by the “winged crosses” [...]

The Armenian Baptism Ceremony
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The Armenian Baptism Ceremony

One of the sacraments of Armenian faith is Baptism. The Baptism service begins at the Door of the Church, proceeds to the Baptismal Font and concludes at the Holy Altar. Door of the church At the door of the church, the order of the service conducted by the priest is: Penitential Psalms, Blessing of Narod, [...]

Armenian Sacraments
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The Seven Sacraments – Symbols Of Armenian Faith

What is a Sacrament? Saint Paul provides us our first definition of sacraments. In the Latin Bible, “sacramentum” is used to translate the Armenian word KHORHOOT, which in English means mystery. Mystery is the word Saint Paul used as he referred to God’s plan of always wanting to save, renew, and unite all things to [...]

English Bible, dated 1642, published by John Bill in London
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Excerpts from the Bible and notes

Excerpts from the Bible and notes by: Mark A. Kalustian 1. Genesis: 5:32 “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth. “ Japheth was the progenitor of the so-called Caucasian race. This appellation was first initiated by German anthropologists of the 18th century who advanced the theory that the [...]

Armenian Churches in Africa

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  Armenian Churches in Egypt Armenian Catholic Patriarchate Church of the Assumption 36, Rue Mohammad Sabri Abou Alam 11121 Le Caire Alexandria, Egypt Tél.: [20] (Ø2) 393.84.29 Tél.: [20] (Ø2) 391.77.45   Fax: [20] (Ø2) 393.20.25 St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church 179 Avenue Ramses PO Box 48 Faggala Cairo, Egypt Tel: 011-20-2-590-1385 Fax: 011-20-2-590-6671 St. [...]

Armenian Churches in Oceania

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Armenian Churches in Australia Armenian Evangelical Catholic Church 41-43 Station Street Ferntree Gully 3156 Sydney, Australia Tel: +61-03-97523228 Fax: +61-03-97523920 Holy Resurrection Armenian Apostolic Church 10 Macquarie Street PO Box 694 Chatswood, 2067 Sydney N.S.W. Tel: +61-29-419-8056 Fax +61-29-413-1709 Sourp Asdvadzadzin Armenian Apostolic Church 2-4 Norfolk Road Surrey Hills 3127 Melbourne, Australia Tel: +61-03-98361194

Armenian Churches in Asia

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Armenian Churches in Burma Armenian Apostolic Church of St. John the Baptist o. 66, 40th Street Yangon (Rangoon), Burma Armenian Churches in India Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth 2 Armenian Street Calcutta, India 700001 Tel: 011-91-33-242-4308 Sourp Asdvadzadzine Armenian Apostolic Church Madras, India Sourp Bedros Armenian Apostolic Church Mumbai-Bombay, India Sourp Krikor Armenian Apostolic Church [...]

Armenian Holy Divine Liturigy
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Armenian Holy Divine Liturigy (Badarak in transcription)

Aghotk Deroonagan Hayr Mer vor hergines es. Soorp yeghixi anoon ko. egesxe arkayootiun ko. yegeexi gamk ko vorbes hergines yev hergeri. Ezhax mer hanabazor door mez aysor. Yev togh mez ezbardiz mer, vorbes yev mek toghoomk merox bardabanax. Yev mee daneer ezmez ee porxootiun. Ayl pergia ezmez ee chare. Zee ko e arkayootiun yev zorutiun [...]