Programme Excerpt, Sourp Khatch

Type:Document (pdf)
Description:History of the Armenian Apostolic Church

Christianity in Armenia can be traced back to the age of the Apostles. Two of Christ’s Apostles, St. Thaddeus (35-43 A.D.) and St. Bartholomew (44-60 A.D.), preached the Gospel in Armenia as early as the first century and according to tradition were martyred there. The Armenian Church is therefore of Apostolic origin. There is historical evidence of the existence of a Christian community and clergy in Armenia prior to the fourth century. It was at the beginning of the fourth century, in 301 A.D., that Christianity was first proclaimed the official religion of Armenia. This proclamation was the result of the missionary activity of St. Gregory the Illuminator (240-332 A.D.) who baptized King Trdat III (Tiridates) and the royal family. St. Gregory was installed as the first Catholicos, or chief bishop of Armenia, and continued to convert the Armenian people.

There could not have been a truly Armenian Christian culture if the Gospel could not be proclaimed to the Armenian people in the Armenian language. In 405 A.D., St. Mesrob Mashdots, an Armenian monk, invented the Armenian alphabet and with the help of the Catholicos, St. Sahak I, translated the Bible into Armenian. The Armenian Bible, one of the earliest translations of the Holy Scriptures, was without doubt an enormous literary achievement that integrated Christianity into Armenian life.

The conversion of Armenia to Christianity permeated the whole course and destiny of Armenian history. Throughout the succeeding centuries, the Armenian people lived their national life under the influence of the Gospel, and as a result, Church and Nation became inseparably interwoven. During times of crisis and the absence of a physical Armenian state, the Church played an important role in preserving and fostering the spirit and culture of the nation. Hence, the Armenian Apostolic Church is seen by many as the custodian of Armenian national identity.

Credits:Staff. Sourp Khatch concert programme; Armenian Holy Apostolic Church of Canada, 2001.
Subject:Petros Shoujounian | Sourp Khatch
Related People:Petros ShoujounianPetros Shoujounian
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Created Date21 May 2001
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