Holy Echmiadzin Cathedral

Holy Liturgy in Armenian

Holy Echmiadzin Cathedral--Echmiadzin, Yerevan, Armenia. Holy Echmiadzin is a cathedral built in the year 301, the oldest in the world, soon after Christianity was established as the official state religion of Armenia It is currently part of an ecclesiastic compound of the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator as a vaulted basilica in 301-303, when Armenia was the only country in the world the state religion of which was Christianity. According to the 5th-century Armenian annals, St. Gregory had a vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the earth with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built. Hence, the patriarch gave the church and the city the new name of Echmiadzin, which may be translated as "the place where the Only Begotten descended".480, Vahan Mamikonian, the Roman governor of Armenia, ordered the dilapidated basilica to be replaced with a new cruciform church. In 618, the wooden dome was replaced with a stone one, resting on four massive pillars linked to exterior walls by arcades. This was the church much as it is today. Murals in the interior and extravagant rotundas surmounting the apses appeared in the early 18th century. A three-tier belfry was constructed half a century earlier. The cathedral formerly boasted the largest collection of Armenian medieval manuscripts, but these were lately handed over to the Matenadaran, or Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan is one of the richest depositories of manuscripts and books in the world. The collection dates back to 405, when Saint Mesrop Mashtots created the Armenian alphabet.

The entrance to the cathedral compound.

The cemetery of Catholicoses.

It is currently part of an ecclesiastic compound of the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church, much like the Vatican is for the Roman Catholic Church. The Patriarch (called "Catholicos")of the world's 8 million Armenian Orthodox resides here. The compound is also home to several smaller chapels as well as a monastic institute. The cathedral is home to one of the Armenian church's finest choirs, which can be heard weekly at mass, which is called the Badarak. Armenian traditional worship services are similar to the old High Mass of the Latin churches, in that the entire liturgy is sung, led by the priest and deacons, with choir solos and responses. The liturgical music is based on very ancient Armenian music traditions, and listening to the Badarak is a mystical experience that will draw your spirit back to a very ancient time and place in Armenian Christian history, even if you aren't familiar with the Armenian language itself.

The main Altar.

In addition to an octagonal dome which rests on four stone pillars rising from the center of the church, the cathedral also has a prominent bell tower, which is not always a part of smaller Armenian churches. The entire cathedral and surrounding compound is built with multicolored volcanic tufa stone, an unusual geological form of calcite rock. In the courtyard surrounding the cathedral are extensive rose gardens. The rose is a sacred flower in the Armenian church, and rose oil is a component of holy Muron, the anointing oil used in the church.

All Armenian angels appear with 6 wings as described in Isaiah 6.

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