History of Christianity will not be fully described, if we don’t appreciate the great role of Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian orthodox.
Christianity is one of the oldest and most widely spread religions throughout the world.
Armenia is the first country to have adopted Christianity officially. During the long historical path of Christianity, Armenian Church has always been standing true to its religion in spite of many difficulties.
Why is Christian faith so important to Armenians?
Why do Armenians built Apostolic churches wherever they form even a small community?
What role did Armenian apostolic church have in the history of Christianity?
Let’s dive in and discover more!
The Role of Armenian Apostolic Church in the History of Christianity
Armenian Apostolic church (also called Armenian Orthodox) is the oldest National church in the world. Armenian Orthodox church also belongs to one of the oldest Christian communities.
Being the first country to adopt Christianity officially and fighting against all existing and much powerful religions was not easy for Armenians.
The name of the apostolic church comes from its founders, the apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew. They arrived in Armenia in the 1st century with the mission to spread Christianity there and let people know about this religion.
Starting from this time till our days Armenian Apostolic Church is the national church of Armenians. Armenian Church existed from the early development of Christianity.
That’s why it contains many unique features which will delicately tell us about history of Christianity and will let us have more exact image of Christian faith.
Before the council of Chalcedon, there wasn’t any distinction between Christian churches.
During this period appeared different other churches with various theological approaches concerning the concepts of Holy Spirit, the role of Virgin Mary etc. The changes suggested in the several councils were not accepted by Armenian Apostolic Church.
They remained true to their principles and never changed any approach. Armenian Apostolic Church has always been a unique body for Armenian nation. It has always been not only a religious institution, but also a national one.
Armenian Apostolic church was the power and strength, which preserved and carefully kept Armenia even when there was no government.
Holy Mountain Ararat
Mount Ararat is mentioned several times in Holy Bible. It is stated there that Noah rested with his ark exactly on Mount Ararat in Armenia. This mountain is sacred for lot of believers.
Though it is now in the borders of Turkey, Armenians are sure that it will always remain the holy mountain of Armenia. The fact that Noah rested in Armenia, once again emphasizes the importance of this country in History of Christianity.
Mesrop Mashtots and the Translation of Holy Bible
The creation of Armenian alphabet was a great factor of spreading Christianity in Armenia. Though Christianity was already widely spread in 5th century, there was a language barrier, which somehow prevented the full integration of Christianity into Armenians’ lives.
The Armenian Christian culture couldn’t develop in a situation when the Gospel was not in Armenian, and many people couldn’t understand what was said in there. So, St Mesrop Mashtots together with St Sahak Partev took up the extremely important task of creating Armenian alphabet.
This was a historical event for Armenia, as the concept of Christianity became much closer to lot of people. So, thanks to huge efforts made by Mesrop Mashtots Armenian Christian literature started blossoming. The literature period of 5th century is very often called “Golden Age”.
The first renowned writers of this period are Agathangeghos, Movses Khorenatsi, Yeghishe, Yeznik Koghbatsi etc. Yeznik Koghbatsi’s work is especially known, as it’s fully dedicated to the defense of Armenian Othodox Church and the denial of any other pagan religions.
The question about the existence of other religions, which he called heretical, was especially urgent during this period.
The reason was that Armenia had gained and lost its independence not once, and every time the new invaders were trying to dictate their rules and religion. Although being a new set religion, Armenians has always been fighting against other religions and always stayed true to Christianity.
The Battle of Avarair, a Battle for Christian Faith
The Battle of Avarair is a perfect demonstration of strong Armenian will. In the middle of the 5th century Armenia was under the force of Persian Empire. The pressure against Christian religion was becoming unbearable.
The Persian King Yazdegert II was trying to make Armenians change their religion and embrace Zoroatrianism.
However, he didn’t fully realize what Christianity already meant for an Armenian believer. In 451, headed by great commander Vardan Mamikonyan Armenians fought against Persians and preserved their faith with honor.
This battle is considered an exceptional not only for Armenians, but also the history of Christianity.
Though the number of Persian soldiers was much more than the number of Armenians’, Persians couldn’t reach their aim and make Armenians change their religion. Vardan and 1036 noblemen fell in the battle, realizing that they were fighting for future of Armenia.
The New Era of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Apostolic (Armenian Orthodox) Church is Armenians national church. As Armenian Orthodox Church, has rejected the concepts accepted in the Council of Calcedon, it is referred as monophysite.
Though there are several distinctions of Armenian churches, Armenian Apostolic Church is considered the central religious community of Armenian Orthodox population and other Armenian Orthodox communities, which are spread worldwide. The Church is headed by Catholicos.
Though, traditionally in Eastern churches the head of the church is Patriarch, in Armenian Church Catholicos’s position is more supreme than that of the Patriarch.
The Role of Church in Armenia
The Armenian Apostolic Church also consists of two patriarchs, archbishops, bishops etc. The spiritual headquarters of Armenian Apostolic Church is The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin is religious cradle of Armenians.
It is also the cultural and educational center of Armenian Nation. The Church is in close relations with Armenian Diaspora and constantly organizes programs, which makes the religious bridges with different countries more firm and steady.
Today, Armenian Apostolic Church is defined as a state religion of the Republic of independent Armenia. There are quite a lot of different congregations throughout the world. Armenian Apostolic Church has a wide popularity and trust in its country.
Overall, the huge role of Armenian Apostolic Church both in history and nowadays is undeniable. It’s even difficult to imagine the fate of Armenian Nation without Armenian Apostolic Church.
During Armenia’s long and sometimes rather tough history, Armenian Apostolic Church has always been the unique body, which has been standing towards its nation like a stronghold. It has always protected, given strength and inspired Armenians to create a future which will be steady, with its deep roots of belief.
Other Related Posts of History of Christianity through the Scope of Armenian Apostolic Church, The Armenian Orthodox
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- Armenian Christianity | The History & Origin of The First Christian Country