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 Christian communities.

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.

St. 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.


The 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 military upheavals.

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.





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