Armenian Apostolic Church
Official standard of the Catholicos of All
Armenians of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The Armenian Apostolic Church
(Armenian: Հայաստանեայց Առաքելական Եկեղեցի,
Hayasdaneaytz Arakelagan Yegeghetzi) is the world's
oldest national church and one of the most ancient
The official name of the church is the One Holy
Universal Apostolic Orthodox Armenian Church . The
Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus were the founders,
and St. Gregory the Illuminator was the first
official head of the church.
Thaddeus (right) traveled through Edessa, Syria,
Arabia , Mesopotamia anal Armenia (43-66 C.E.). St.
Bartholomew came from Cana, a town three miles from
Nazareth. It was at Cana that Jesus performed his
first miracle and it may have been that St.
Bartholomew invited Jesus to the wedding feast. St.
Bartholomew preached in Armenia (60-68 C.E.). Both
were martyred and buried in Armenia. The sword at
the foot of Saint Thaddeus indicates he died a
martyr. The lance is believed to be the weapon used
to pierce the side of Christ and was carried by him
to Armenia, where the head of this lance is
enshrined in the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin. St.
Bartholomew is holding an icon of the Blessed Virgin
Mother, which was given to him by the apostles to
comfort him after her death.
The Kingdom of Armenia was the first
state to adopt Christianity as its religion
when St. Gregory the Illuminator converted King
Tiridates III and members of his court, an event
traditionally dated to AD 301, though now believed
by most scholars to have occurred somewhat later,
but by 314.
The Armenian Apostolic Church, is the central
religious authority for Armenian Orthodox population
in the Republic of Armenia as well as for Armenian
Orthodox communities worldwide.
It is headed by a Catholicos. The Armenian Apostolic
Church presently has two catholicoi (His Holiness
Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All
Armenians; and Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House
of Cilicia), and two patriarchs, plus Primates,
Archbishops and Bishops, lower clergy and laity
serving the church.
Armenian Apostolic Church currently has two Sees,
with the Catholicos of All Armenians residing in
Etchmiadzin, Armenia, at the Mother See of Holy
Etchmiadzin, having pre-eminent supremacy in all
spiritual matters over the See of Cilicia, located
in Antelias, Lebanon, which administers to the
Dioceses under its jurisdiction as they see fit.
The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
(Armenian: Մայր Աթոռ Սուրբ Էջմիածին ) is the
spiritual and administrative headquarters of the
worldwide Armenian Church, the center of the faith
of the Armenian nation – the Mother Cathedral of the
Armenian Church, and the Pontifical residence of His
Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and
Catholicos of All Armenians. The Mother See of Holy
Etchmiadzin is a blend of the past, present and
future of the world-wide Armenian Church.
The divisions of the two
Catholicosates stems from frequent relocations of
the Church headquarters because of political and
The schism was further reinforced during the period
in which Armenia was part of the Soviet Union when
various churches affiliated with one of the two Holy
Sees of the church.