The Armenian Apostolic Church

1700 years of Christianity in Armenia

 

 

our lady in glory armenian

Virgin Mary with infant Jesus, the adoration of the Magi, 10th century Echmiadzin Gospels, Matenadaran collection
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The origins and the history of the Armenian Church

The origins of the Armenian Church date back to the Apostolic age. According to the ancient tradition, which is well supported by historical evidence, Christianity was preached in Armenia as early as the second half of the first century, by the two disciples of Jesus Christ, namely St. Thaddeus (John 14:22-24) and St. Bartholomew (John 1:43-51). During the first three centuries A.D., Christianity in Armenia was under heavy persecution.
It was at the beginning of the fourth century, in 301 A.D., when Christianity was officially accepted by the Armenians as the state religion. St. Gregory the Illuminator (Սուրբ Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ, 257-331), the patron Saint of the Armenian Church, and King Thiridates III (Սուրբ Տրդատ Գ, 250-330), the ruler of the time, played a pivotal role in the Christianization of Armenia. It is a historical fact that the Armenians were the first nation to formally adhere to Christianity.
Saint Gregory the Illuminator became the organizer of the Armenian Church hierarchy. From that time, the heads of the Armenian Church have been called “Catholicos” (“Կաթողիկոս”) and still hold the same title. St. Gregory chose as the site of the Catholicosate the capital city of Vagharshapat, in Armenia. He built the pontifical residence next to the church of “Holy Mother of God” which took on the name of St. Echmiadzin (Սուրբ Էջմիածին: meaning the place where the Only-Begotten Son was descended), according to a vision, where the Only-Begotten Son of God come down from heaven with a golden hammer in his hand to locate the site of the new cathedral.
The Armenian Church played a highly magnificent role in the life of the Armenian people. The Armenian alphabet was invented in 405 by Saint Mesrob Mashdots (Սուրբ Մեսրոպ Մաշտոց, 362-440). The Armenian culture has been flourished under the guidance of the Armenian Church. In the sphere of theology, literature and arts, many Catholicoi, bishops and priests have made valuable contribution to the Christian thought, culture and civilization. The Armenian Church also played a major part in landmark events of Armenian history.
Due to the continuous upheavals, which characterized the history of Armenia, the Catholicosate of Armenia moved to different locations together with the political authority. Thus, in 485, it was transferred to the new capital Dvin. In the 10th century it moved from Dvin to Dzoravank and then to Aghtamar island, in lake Van (927). From Aghtamar moved to Arghina (947), and finally in 992 the Holy See of Armenia was settled in Ani, the capital of the Armenian Kingdom of Bagradits.
After the fall of the capital Ani in 1045, and its destruction by the Seljukid Turks in 1064, masses of Armenians migrated to Cilicia region. The Catholicosate, together with the people, was settled there. It was first established in Thavblour (1062), then in Dzamendav (1072) present day Zamanti, and in Dzovk (1116) present day Gölcük. In 1149, the Catholicosate moved in the fortress of Hromkla (Hrom-Kla:  Roman Fortress), present day Rumkale, on the banks of the Euphrates River, very close to the border of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia.
In 1293, the Holy See of Armenia moved to Sis, the capital of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, where it remained for seven centuries. After the fall of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia in 1375, it was the Armenian Church that assumed the role of national leadership. The Armenian Church is unique in that besides being a religious institution it is also a national institution inasmuch as almost all of its members are either Armenians or of Armenian descent, and for many centuries has played, in the absence of organized Armenian government, the role of this latter.
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The Armenian Church after the 14th century

The existence of two Catholicosates within the Armenian Church, namely the Catholicosate in Etchmiadzin in Armenia, and the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Sis, is a result of several historical circumstances.
In 1375 the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was destroyed. Cilicia became a battleground for Seljuks, Mamluks and other invaders. In the meantime, the growing cultural and religious awakening in homeland Armenia, led the clergy of Armenia to elect a Catholicos in St. Echmiadzin. The latter was the original seat of the Catholicosate, but it had ceased to function as Catholicossal See after 485.
Thus, in 1441, a new Catholicos was elected in Echmiadzin in the person of Kirakos Virapetsi (Կիրակոս Ա. Վիրապեցի). At the same time Krikor IX Moussapegiants (Գրիգոր Ժ. Մուշափեկիանց) was the Catholicos in Cilicia. Therefore, since 1441, there have been two Catholicosates in the Armenian Church with equal rights and privileges, and with their respective jurisdictions.
From 1113 to 1895, there also existed the Armenian Catholicosate of Aghtamar, an independent See of the Armenian Apostolic Church, based in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on the Aghtamar Island in lake Van.  The Catholicosate was established by Archbishop Davit, member of  the ruling dynasty of the Armenian Kingdom of Vaspurakan. Since 16th century, the Catholicosate came under direct jurisdiction of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The Catholicosate was dissolved in 1895, amid the Hamidian massacres. After the Armenian Genocide in 1915, its former dioceses were transformed to the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The hierarchical organization of the Armenian Church since 1441 recognizes two co-equal heads, each with the title of Catholicos. The primary Catholical See is in Echmiadzin, Armenia, the seat of the Catholicos of All Armenians; The second is the seat of the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.  Each of these two Sees has its own dioceses, the supervision of an Archbishop or a Bishop.
The Armenian Church has two patriarchs, the first of which resides in the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the second in the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople (in modern day Istanbul). Both patriarchs of Jerusalem and Constantinople are spiritually dependent to the Catholicosate of Echmiadzin, although they retain their fiscal and organizational independence.
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The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem dates back to the Apostolic age. It is the “Apostolic See of Saint James in Jerusalem”. It marks the continous presence of the Armenian Church in the Holy Land through the centuries. The title Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem dates back to 638 when first Armenian Partiarch was appointed Abraham I. The seat of the Armenian Patriarchate is the Cathedral of St. James (Sourp Hagop, 12th century). The St. James Convent, spritual centre of the Armenians in the Holy Land, is located inside the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Armenian Patriarchate enjoys a semi-diplomatic status, as one of the three major guardians of the Christian Holy Places in the Holy Land. The other two are the Greek Orthodox and Latin Patriarchates. Under joint control of the Armenian Patriarchate and other churches, chapels and holy places are the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in the Valley of Gethsemane, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The Armenian Patriarchate also has jurisdiction over the Armenian Apostolic communities in Palestine, Israel and Jordan. In the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the St. James Convent is dominated by the 12th century Cathedral of St. James. Situated on the south east edge of the Armenian quarter is the 12th century Church of Holy Archangels. Inside the premises of the Armenian Quarter  is  established the Armenian Theological Seminary of Jerusalem. In the Armenian Quarter is situated also the Gulbenkian Library and Museum where a significant collection of Armenian books and illuminated manuscripts are preserved.
St. James Printing House was established in 1833, in the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The printing house ensured the circulation of religious and theological works, it published numerous translations as well as creative works in Armenian, along with prominent historical, philological, and geographical publications. In 1886, the religious-philological journal Sion was founded, and soon became the official organ of the Patriarchate. St. James Printing House has primarily based its printing work on the literature produced by Armenian religious and academic authorities, on material derived from the archives of the Patriarchate, as well as on material from the archives of Gulbenkian Library.
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The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople

The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople is the spiritual See of the Armenians living within the borders of Turkey. It dates back to 1461, when Patriarch became Hovakim I. After the Armenian Genocide in 1915, formerr dioceses throughout “Western Armenia” were transformed to the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. The seat of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople is Holy Mother of God Patriarchal Church (Sourp Asdvadzadzin) in the Kumkapı neighborhood of Istanbul.
In 1915 the Armenians suffered great hardship under the Young Turk administration owing to the desire of the Turkish government for its peoples to be religiously homogeneous, motivated perhaps by an imagined threat of Armenians from Russian influences with whom Turkey was at war. The Armenian community of Turkey in 1915 was decimated by forced mass deportations and systematic massacres, that resulted in the extermination of 1,5 million Armenians by the Turks. The ethnic cleansing of Armenians from Turkey become known as the Armenian Genocide. The systematic massacres and forced expulsion of Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, during and after the First World War, constituted genocide. Prior to 1915, almost two million Armenians lived in Turkey; nowadays less than 100,000 reside there. Despite the denial of Turkey to acknowledge its crimes, for the past hundred years, goverments and parliaments around the world have formally recognized the Armenian Genocide.
In 1914, the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople compiled a list of monasteries, churches and other religious institutions throughout the Ottoman Empire. The list revealed that 2,549 religious sites were under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate, including more than 200 monasteries and 1,600 churches. However, in 1974, UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have vanished completely, 252 are in ruins, and 197 are in immediate need of repair. Most of them were looted, burned and destroyed by the Turks during the Armenian Genocide.
Today, there are only a few dozen churches still functioning in Turkey, under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. Most of them are located in the greater Istanbul area. Out of the few still funtioning Armenian Apostolic Churches in Eastern Turkey, notable are the St. Gregory the Illuminator church in Kayseri (1191), the 17th century St. Giragos (St. Cyriacus) church in Diyarbakir (Tigranakert) with the seven altars, as well as the 10th century Catherdral of Holy Cross in Aghtamar island of lake Van.
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The Armenian Church in Artsakh

In Aghvank (Greater Artsakh) region Christianity was introduced and widely spread by the grandson of St. Gregory the Illuminator, Grigorios, who became the first Archbishop of the Aghvank diocese. Grigorios was martyred in 338. In 4th-5th centuries, Christianity was spread throughout Aghvank region and became the official religion. Saint Mesrob Mashdots (Սուրբ Մեսրոպ Մաշտոց, 362-440) introduced the armenian alphabet in the liturgical life of Aghvank.
In the greater Artsakh region were established several important monasteries such as Amaras vank (4th century) and Dadivank (9th-10th century). The See of the Aghvank diocese remained in Partav up to the 10th century. Later, was transferred to Berdakur, then to Khamsh monastery, to Gandzak and finally in 1240 at the Gandzasar monastery of Artsakh.
Gandzasar monastery was built in 1216 by the Armenian prince of Khachen Hasan-Jalal Dawla. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was concecrated in 1240. In the 14th century, after the fall of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia, and the re-establishment of a catholicosate at Echmadzin, a regional catholicosate emerged in Artsakh. Gandzasar monastery became the Holy See of the Catholicosate of Aghvank, also known as the Holy See of Gandzasar. Many of its Catholicoi were members of the Armenian Hasan-Jalal Dawla dynasty. In 1815, by the order of the Tsarist government, the Gandzasar Catholicosate was abolished and the diocese of Artsakh became subject to the Catholicosate of Echmiadzin.
In the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994), the liberation and the establishment of the independent Republic of Artsakh, the diocese of Artsakh covers the entire area of the Republic. It is headquartered in the Holy Saviour “Ghazanchetsots” Cathedral – Սուրբ Ամենափրկիչ “Ղազանչեցոց” (1888) in the town of Shushi. Gandzasar monastery remains the historic centre of the diocese, along with Dadivank and Amaras vank. Amaras vank (Ամարաս վանք) was founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator in 4th century. Mesrop Mashtots the inventor of the Armenian Alphabet, established in Amaras the first-ever school that used his script.  Dadivank (Դադիվանք) monastery, dating from the 9th century, was founded by St. Dadi, a disciple of St. Thaddeus the apostle.
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The Catholicosate of Cilicia

In the 10th century, when the historical region of Armenia was devastated by the Seljukid Turks, the majority of the Armenians left their homeland and came to settle in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, where they re-organized their political, religious and cultural life. In Cilicia, the Catholicosate became the center of the Armenian life, around which multiple religious, national, cultural, and educational activities were organized.
In the years following the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the Catholicosate contributed significantly to the formation and organization of the Armenian Diaspora. During World War I, from 1915 to 1918, one and a half million Armenians were massacred by the Ottoman-Turkish government. Furthermore, in the period 1921-1923, as soon as French forces evacuated Cilicia, a second wave of massacres ordered by Kemalist Turkey took the lives of another three hundred thousand Armenians. Survivors of the massacres were forced to leave their centuries-old homeland and to found refuge mostly in the countries of Europe and in the Middle East.
The Catholicosate in Sis, as well thousands of Armenian churches, monasteries, schools and cultural centers were vandalized, looted, burnt and turned into ruins by the Turks. Catholicos Sahak II (Սահակ Բ. Խապայեան) followed his flock in exile. After wandering in Cyprus, Syria and Lebanon, in 1930 he established the seat of the Catholicosate in the town of Antelias, near Beirut, in Lebanon. In 1922 an orphanage was established in Antelias for survivors of the Armenian Genocide. It continued operating until 1928. In 1930 the buildings of the orphanage were leased to the Holy See of Cilicia which became the seat of the Catholicosate.
The Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator was built in 1940, along with a Chapel in memory of the 1,5 million Armenian martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. Opposite to the Cathedral is situated the “Veharan” (Վեհարան), the residence of the Catholicos. The Catholicosate complex of Antelias includes the Catholicosate Library, the Seminary building, and the Cilicia Museum. There is also the mausoleum /cemetery where members of the Antelias congregation are buried. For a certain period of time, the Catholicosate comlplex also hosted an elementary Armenian school. A little further, in the village of Bikfaya, in the nearby mountains, is located the new building of the Theological Seminary. Bikfaya also serves as the summer residence of the Catholicos.
The Printing House of the Catholicosate of Cilicia, established in 1931, is located inside the Catholicosate complex of Antelias. The printing house is an integral part of the cultural mission of the Armenian Catholicosate. It plays an important part in the cultural, literary and educational spheres of the Church’s witness.  It has circulated a great number of religious, historical and cultural publications in Armenian and in foreign languages. Numerous Armenian literature books and translations have been published so far. Notable is the monthly “Hask” (Հասկ), the official organ of the Holy See of Cilicia.
The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia has established dioceses in the countries of Middle East, in Europe and in North and South America. The survivals of the Armenian Genocide, as well as the next generations of the Armenian diaspora became the focus of the Armenian Church’s concern. The Catholicoi of the Holy See of Cilicia gave a new vitality to the mission of the Armenian Church with their active presence and contribution in the life of Armenian communities.

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1915 saints

The Icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, by artist Tigran Barkhanajyan, Echmiadzin 2015

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The Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide

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The canonization of the victims of the Armenian Genocide

On April 23, 2015, the Armenian Apostolic Church held a ceremony outside of the Echmiadzin Cathedral in Vagharshapat to canonize the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The ceremony was held to coincide with the commemoration of the centennial from the start of the massacres of the Armenians by the Turks in 1915. Τhe ceremony, where 1.5 million new saints were canonized, has been the first canonization of saints by the Armenian Apostolic Church within the last 400 years.
On the 75th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in a joint Communiqué issued on April 29, 1989 for the occasion, Their Holiness Vazken I Catholicos of All Armenians and Karekin II Catholicos of Cilicia “proposed that the preparatory activities continue for the canonization of the Armenian Genocide victims.” Indeed, the idea of religious commemoration of the Genocide victims goes back to the early years of the First Republic of Armenia (1918-1920), when the Armenian Government at the time formally applied to Catholicos Gevorg V to include the martyrs in the liturgical calendar of the Armenian Church. In November 2014, the Synod of Bishops, headed by the two Catholicoi of the Armenian Church, announced that the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide will be formally declared saints on 23 April 2015.
Canonization is the final stage of declaration of sainthood, whereby a person or a group of persons are considered to share the holiness of God and their lives bear witness to the authenticity and truth of the Christian gospel. Saints are believed to have joined God in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption and have found the true life with God. As such, with their exemplary lives, the saints are an integral part of Christianity since ancient times and have a significant place in the doctrinal, liturgical and pietistic traditions of the “One, Universal, Apostolic, Holy Church”.
It is deep the theological meaning of sainthood and its relevance to faith and piety. Saints are figures of admiration and models to emulate and to continue the evangelistic and spiritual mission of the Church. Christians are called to discern the saints’ virtues and follow their example in obtaining the “heavenly crown of glory”. Canonizing the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide is to perpetuate their witness to Christ, through the mission of the Armenian Church in this world.
Theologically, as the victims of the Armenian Genocide have been canonized, the Armenian Church is under a dogmatic imperative, that there are no longer victims, but victors of Christ. We can no longer hold “hokehankists” requiem services to mourn their martyrdom. Instead, the Divine Liturgy will be celebrated invoking their names, asking for their intercession and celebrate their victory over death, in and through Christ. The mournful, dark atmosphere of commemorations of the Armenian Genocide will be changed into a “festive” atmosphere. The victims are no longer victims, but saints who live in the glory of God, that is, those who have joined God in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption and have found the true life with God.

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The Icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide

On April 23, during the Canonization service of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, the icon of the Holy Martyrs was consecrated, and placed in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin. The “Icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide” was painted by the gifted painter Tigran Barkhanajyan, specifically for the 2015 Ceremony of Canonization, marking the 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
The icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide is a unique work in Armenian iconography. The collective image represents Armenian men, women, elderly and children who were martyred for the sake of their Faith and for the sake of their Homeland. The Holy Martyrs are depicted in their daily attire, in situations that represent all the classes of society in Western Armenia, including clergymen, intellectuals, musicians, school children, farmers and the people.
Although the subjects in the icon are presented in a group as a whole, the artist uses different motives to depict each individual and distinctive in character. Saints rising to the heavens are depicted in the center of the image, while Seraphs, the Lord and the Holy Spirit in the shape of a Dove are placed in the upper section receiving the Divine Liturgy for the Martyrs of the Armenian nation. Divine Liturgy is being received, because the Holy Church of Christ, symbolically, the Body of God, was raised to the heavens through Genocide.
In the iconic image, the martyrs embody Lord Jesus Christ. And just as the Lord was crucified and buried, yet He “overcame” death, and won through His Glorious Resurrection. So too, the Armenians went through martyrdom, yet gained immortality through the power of the Holy Resurrection. Thus, they are decorated with wreaths that do not wilt, so that they may bear witness and be patron of the Powerful Church – the Church that won.
Scattered around the Holy Martyrs, rest the shattered and desecrated sanctuaries of the Armenians. Most of them are depicted as half destructed. The monumental Armenian cross-stones “khachkars” silently bearing witness to the cultural genocide of the Armenian Nation and the lost sector of the Armenian Homeland.

 

 

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Cathedrals of the Armenian Apostolic Church

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The Holy Echmiatzin Cathedral – Էջմիածնի մայր տաճար (literally: the descent of the Only Begotten Son). It is the Mother Cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Built by St. Gregory the Illuminator in 301, following the adoption of Christianity in Armenia as a state religion.

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dvin old

The Basilica of St. Gregory & St. Sarkis, in the early medieval capital of Dvin (4th-5th century). Only ruins remain today, very close to the modern day Hnaberd village, Armenia

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yererouk_02a

The Basilica of St. John the Baptist & St. Stephen the Protomartyr (4th-5th century) in Yererouk, Anipemza village, Armenia. It is the oldest and best preserved proto-Christian Armenian basilica survived to our days.

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Tekor-1

The Tekor Basilica of St. Sarkis (5th century) in Digor village of Kars region, close to the medieval Armenian capital of Ani. It was severely damaged by the earthquake of 1912 and later vandalized and completely destroyed by the local turkish population. Tekor has been the oldest extant domed church in Armenia. The inscription (now lost) dating the building to the 480s was the oldest known writing in Armenian language.

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280750-zvartnots-armenia-e1535468887202.jpg

Zvartnots Cathedral – Զվարթնոց տաճար (literally: place of the celestial angels) is a centrally planned aisled tetraconch type church built by the order of Catholicos Nerses the Builder (642-652). Now in ruins (collapsed since 10th century), it is located at the edge of Vagharshapat city (Echmiadzin).

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zvartnots replica 1

A museum replica of Zvartnots Cathedral as it supposedly stood during 7th century.

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Mren from southwest 2013

The Cathedral of Mren (638) is a domed triple-nave Armenian basilica, built in rubble masonry, and ceramic tile roof. It is located in the abandoned Armenian medieval town of Mren, in Kars region, near the border with Armenia, about 1.5 km west of Akhurian river. It was built by Armenian princes who celebrated the entry of their ally, emperor Heraclius into Jerusalem.

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Khor-Virap-01

The Monastery of Khor Virap (642) located in the plain of Mt. Ararat. Khor Virap, meaning “deep dungeon”, is the location of the pit where St. Gregory Illuminator was imprisoned for 14 years by King Tiridates of Armenia. St. Gregory subsequently became the king’s religious mentor, and in the year 301 Armenia was the first country in the world to be declared a Christian nation.

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ancient ani border view original

The medieval Armenian capital of Ani (5th-10th century), lies today on the turkish – armenian border line, adjacent to the riverbanks of Akhurian river, on the turkish side of the border.

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Cathedral and church of St. Gregory

The Cathedral of Virgin Mary the Holy Mother of God, and the church of Holy Redeemer in the medieval Armenian capital of Ani (5th-10th century).

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North façade

The Cathedral of Virgin Mary the Holy Mother of God in the medieval Armenian capital of Ani, as seen from a different angle.

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Horomos_1892

The Church of St. John the Baptist in Horomos Monastery (931 A.D.), 15 km northeast of the medieval Armenian capital of Ani. Horomos has been one of the most significant spiritual and cultural religious centers in medieval Armenia (photo of 1890s).

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Horomos_(Ghoshavank)_today.jpg

The Church of St. John the Baptist in Horomos Monastery, in its current condition. It lies on the turkish – armenian border line, to the riverbanks of Akhurian river, on the turkish side of the border. The monastic complex turned into ruins during the masacres of the Armenian Genocide. In the following decades, the complex became target of artillery fire on military exercises of the Turkish army, resulting to its complete destruction.

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Akdamar-Adasi_t4oyo0

Cathedral of the Holy Cross (915-921). It has been the Holy See of the historical Armenian Catholicosate of Aghtamar (1113-1895). It is located on Aghtamar island, in lake Van.

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Tatev-01.jpg

Tatev Monastery – Տաթևի վանք (9th century). A significant cultural and religious centre where in 14th-15th centuries hosted the most important of Armenian medieval universities, the University of Tatev.

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Ganzasar monastery view

Gandzasar Monastery – Գանձասարի վանք (10th-13th century), Artsakh Republic. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist – Սուրբ Յովհաննու Մկրտիչ, was built between 1216 – 1238. It was the Holy See of the historical Armenian Catholicosate of Aghvank (1240-1836).

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rumkale_panoramic2

The Hromkla Fortress (Rumkale) on river Euphrates. It was the Holy See of the Catholicosate of Armenia in 12th-13th centuries, where St. Nerses IV Shnorhali lived and served as the Catholicos of Armenians.

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st-james_jerusalem_intrerior_1-e1564730982764.jpg

The Cathedral of St. James (12th century) the Holy See of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Located inside the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, is the spiritual core of the centuries old Armenian presence in the Holy Land.

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Varagavank_staff

Varagavank monastery (11th-14th century), in Vaspurakan region, modern day Van. One of the richest and most celebrated Armenian monasteries. The Cathedral of St. Sofia (the Wisdom of God) housed a fragment of the True Cross and relics of St. John the Baptist. The monastic complex was vandalized, burnt and turned into ruins during the masacres of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

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Varagavank today

Remnants of the Varagavank monastery, now turned into a village barn. Locals call their village “Yedi Kilise” (meaning: Seven Churches) in memory of the seven churches that once comprised the monastic complex of Varagavank. Most of those ruined structures were completely collapsed in 2011, as a result of the Van earthquake.

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St Bartholomew-02.jpg

The Monastery and Cathedral of St. Bartholomew the Apostle (1262) situated in modern day southeastern Turkey (photo of 1913). The Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew where the first who evangelized the Christianity in Armenia. The monastic complex of St. Bartholomew was turned into ruins during the masacres of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

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St Bartholomew-03

Ruins of the Monastery and Cathedral of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, near the modern day village of Albayrak in southeastern Turkey. The monastic complex turned into ruins during the masacres of the Armenian Genocide.

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st-thaddeus-01

The Monastery and Cathedral of St. Thaddeus the Apostle (1262) situated in modern day northern Iran. The Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew where the first who evangelized the Christianity in Armenia.

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St._Stepanos_Iran-1

The Monastery and Cathedral of St. Stephen the Protomartyr (1260s) also known as Maghardavank (Մաղարդավանք). Located along the riverbank of Araxes, in the historic region of Julfa, Nakhichevan, situated today on the Iranian side of the border.

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diyarbakir_2012

The 17th century St. Giragos (St. Cyriacus) Church in Diyarbakir (Tigranakert). Ruined during the Armenian Genocide in 1915, it has been renovated and reopened in 2011. It is the only Armenian church with seven altars. Its main altar is dedicated to St. Cyriacus, the four side altars are dedicated to the four Evangelists, while the far left and far right altars are dedicated to St. John the Baptist and to the Holy Archangels respectively.

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1024px-Ghazanchetsots_Cathedral_in_June_2018

Holy Saviour Cathedral (Սուրբ Ամենափրկիչ) commonly referred to as Ghazanchetsots (Ղազանչեցոց) in Shusha (Shushi), Artsakh Republic. Built in 1868, it is the seat of the Diocese of Artsakh. Standing 35 metres high, Ghazanchetsots is one of the largest Armenian cathedrals.

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Sis-Catholicosate

The Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia at Sis (1293-1915). The monastery and the Cathedral of St. Sophia (The Holy Wisdom of God) in a picture of 1890s.

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sis monastery ruins

Remnants of the Cathedral of St. Sophia. Once the Holy See of the Catholicosate of Cilicia, now turned into ruins. In the present day village of Kozan, Turkey.

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Antilias cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator, in Antelias, Lebanon, built in 1940. On the foreground, the Chapel in memory of the 1,5 million Armenians massacred in the Armenian Genocide. Since 1930, Antelias is the residence of the Armenian Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia.

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