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Armenian Apostolic Church

From Academic Kids

The Armenian Apostolic Church, sometimes incorrectly called the Armenian Orthodox Church is the world's oldest national church and one of the original churches, having been founded in 301. The Apostolic Church separated from the then-still-united Roman Catholic/Byzantine Orthodox church in 506, after the Council of Chalcedon (see Oriental Orthodoxy). The earliest accounts of the introduction of Christianity into Armenia date from the 1st century A.D. when it was first preached by two Apostles of Jesus, St. Bartholomew and St. Thaddeus. The Armenian Apostolic Church has been around since the days of the apostles and therefore has a rightful claim to be one of the oldest denominations in Christianity, if not the oldest. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in 301, when St. Gregory the Illuminator converted Tiridates the Great (the King of Armenia) and members of his court. Christianity was strengthened in Armenia by the translation of the Bible into the Armenian language by the Armenian theologian, monk and scholar Saint Mesrop Mashtots.

The Armenian church has been labeled monophysite because they rejected the decisions of this council, which condemned monophysitism. The Coptic Orthodox Church also separated after the Council of Chalcedon. The Armenian church does not hold to monophysite doctrine, however, but confesses the two natures of Christ. The Armenian church also rejects the juridical authority of the pope and the doctrine of purgatory.

The head of the Armenian Apostolic Church is the Catholicos of Armenia (the plural is Catholicoi). (The Armenian Apostolic Church should not be confused, however, with the Armenian Catholic Church, which is an Eastern Rite church under the authority of the Pope in Rome.) At present, the Catholicos of All Armenians is his Holiness Garegin II (sometimes spelled as Karekin), who resides in the city of Echmiadzin, west of Yerevan. However, a minority of the church has recognized instead the Catholicos of Cilicia, who resides in Antilyas in Lebanon, as a result of a dispute that emerged while Armenia was under Communist rule. Although the Catholicos of All Armenians claims theoretical sovereignty over the Catholicos of Cilicia.

Liturgically, the Church has much more in common with the Latin rite, especially as it was at the time of separation, than other Orthodox rites. For example, their bishops wear vestments almost identical to those of Western bishops. They usually do not use a full iconostasis, but rather a curtain (which was also used in the West at the time of separation).

Today there are large Armenian Apostolic congreations in many middle-eastern countries outside Armenia. Of particular importance is the Armenian Apostolic Church of Iran (see also Christians in Iran) where Armenians are the largest Christian ethnic minority.

Other large Armenian Apostolic congregations are in the Russian Federation, the USA and in many Western European countries.

External link

nl:Armeens-orthodoxe Kerk ja:アルメニア教会 ru:Армянская Апостольская Церковь sl:Armenska apostolska cerkev sv:Armeniska apostoliska kyrkan

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