The Armenian Apostolic Church is one of the world’s oldest Christian communities and is headquartered in the Monastery of Holy Etchmiadzin. Currently, the Catholicos is His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. Find out about the Orthodox christianity in Armenia as well as its doctrine and priest.
Every country and nation has some specific aspects of their history, culture, religion, traditions that describe them. In one words, those are the things that identify the country, or nation, without what they won’t be complete.
For example, if we take Italians, then we should speak about their kitchen at first. Greece is famous for its ancient history and mythology. Germany had a big role in world’s philosophy, science and classical music.
But what is the most important thing, that makes Armenian an Armenian?
What is the first thing, without which you can hardly see any Armenian?
We can defiantly assure you that it’s the religion. Armenians love to speak about how Armenia became the 1st Christian county and that they are the first and most devoted nation to Christian faith.
So, let’s find out how Armenia comes to be the first Christian country, why their religion is not like the rest of Europe, but is called Armenian Apostolic church and What Apostolic church is anyway.
The History of the Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is not only the oldest National Church in the world, but it’s also one of the most ancient and important Christian communities. The Armenian Church belongs to the Orthodox family of churches, also known as the Oriental Orthodox.
Christianity was brought and preached in Armenia by two of Jesus’ apostles, Thaddeus and Bartholomew. That is what implies the true name of the church. The first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church was St. Gregory the Illuminator.
He was called Illuminator because “he enlightened the nation with the light of the gospel” through baptizing people. He was imprisoned in a dungeon for four years by Armenian king Tiridates III, for preaching Christianity.
When he was released, Tiridates was sick but only Gregory managed to cure the King’s sickness. After that, the king accepted Christianity.
The creation of the Armenian alphabet by St. Mesrop Mashtots had a major role for making Christianity available to the people in a written form. Soon after the invention St. Mesrop realized his goal and together with St. Sahag Partev translated the Holy Bible into Armenian.
The upcoming centuries were quite difficult periods in the history of Armenia, as well as for the Armenian religion and faith. Persian rule, later Arab domination are the proof to these words.
Why was Christianity Divided into Branches?
The Armenian Apostolic Church is a branch of the Universal Christian Church. But until the Council of Chalcedon, which took place in 451 A.D., the Christian Church was one. After that three Ecumenical Councils were convened in order to free the church from the heretical nations.
During these Councils, the Fathers of the Christian Church formed the orthodox interpretations of the Trinitarian doctrine: the incarnation and the nature of Jesus Christ, the understanding of the Holy Spirit, the position of Virgin Mary as God bearer.
Hierarchy and Functional Structure of the Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the main religious authority for the Orthodox population in Armenia and for Armenian Orthodox communities around the world as well. It is mostly based on the apostolic doctrine and canons.
The administration of the Armenian Apostolic Church has conciliar system. To put it differently, the apostolic doctrine, liturgical, and canonical norms are established and approved by a council.
The following are the spiritual and administrative bodies that represent the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Why Does the Armenian Apostolic Church Have Two Sees?
Currently, the Armenian Apostolic Church has two Sees. The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the Mother Cathedral of the Armenian Church.
The Catholicate of the Great House of Cilicia was given the right to establish its jurisdiction after World War II.
The reason for the division was as following. The Armenian Dashnaktsutyun social democratic political party, active in the Diaspora, at that period considered that the Church and the priests were hugely influenced by Communists.
The supporters of this party formed congregations in Antelias in Lebanon that were totally independent from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Now the Great House of Cilicia is serving to the certain segments of the Armenian Diaspora and is an autonomous church.
The Actual Difference Between Armenian and Other Christian Churches
As we already mentioned above the Armenian Apostolic Church belongs to the Orthodox family of churches but is based upon apostolic doctrine ant that is why it is called apostolic church.
The general theological differences and disagreements between these two churches is the following. It is the issue of Christology, Divine and Human natures of Christ.
It is necessary here to mention that both orthodox and apostolic doctrines and dogmas are integral parts of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The latest is not under the jurisdiction of Roman Catholic Church.
The churches that are closer in matters of apostolic doctrine are: the Syrian Jacobite Church, the Coptic Church of Egypt, the Ethiopian Church, and the Malabar Malankara Church of India.
The Role of the Church in Armenia
It is beyond any doubt that the Armenian Apostolic Church has a great role as a religious institution for strengthening Christianity in Armenia. It is also considered to be the guardian, keeper and the developer of Armenian national identity.
There are some events in Armenia that are celebrated in the church. One of them is the ceremony of marriage. Getting married in a church is one of the seven holy sacraments of the church and most of the Armenians follow this tradition.
It’s essential for the Armenians to go to the church on the wedding day and receive God’s blessing. Some couples don’t even officially register their marriage, or do it some years later, but having a spiritual blessing is important for them.
There is also a tendency of baptizing little children while they are yet toddlers. Many people like to say that they get a great spiritual comfort and calmness going to church.
After all, the greatest challenge of the church is to make such principles of Christianity, as faith, hope and love more relevant to the lives of people.
Other Related Posts of Armenian Apostolic Church | Apostolic Doctrine and its Priest, the Orthodox Christianity in Armenia
- History of Christianity through the Scope of Armenian Apostolic Church, The Armenian Orthodox
- Armenian Christmas | What are the Traditions & Date? How to say Merry Christmas in Armenian?
- Etchmiadzin Cathedral: The Armenian Church, the Holy Etchmiadzin