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Modern Armenia » Religion

 

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    Religion

    (left) The influence of St. Gregory the Illuminator led to the adoption of Christianity in Armenia in the year AD 301. He is the patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church

    (right) The 7th century Khor Virap monastery in the shadow of Mount Ararat, upon which Noah’s Ark had supposedly once come to rest.

    Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, an event traditionally dated to AD 301.

    The predominant religion in Armenia is Christianity. The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the 1st century. According to tradition, the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus’ twelve apostles – Thaddaeus and Bartholomew – who preached Christianity in Armenia between AD 40–60. Because of these two founding apostles, the official name of the Armenian Church is Armenian Apostolic Church.

    Over 93% of Armenian Christians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a form of Oriental (Non-Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy, which is a very ritualistic, conservative church, roughly comparable to the Coptic and Syriac churches. Armenian Apostolic Church is in communion only with a group of churches within Oriental Orthodoxy.

    Other religious denominations in Armenia are the Baptists and Presbyterians.

    Catholics also exist in Armenia, both Roman Catholic and Mekhitarist Catholics. The Mechitarists (also spelled “Mekhitarists” Armenian: Մխիթարեան), are a congregation of Benedictine monks of the Armenian Catholic Church founded in 1712 by Mechitar of Sebaste. They are best known for their series of scholarly publications of ancient Armenian versions of otherwise lost ancient Greek texts.

    The Armenian Catholic denomination is headquartered in Bzoummar, Lebanon.

    The Yazidi Kurds, who live in the western part of the country, practice Yazidism. There are also non-Yazidi Kurds who practice Sunni Islam. There is a Jewish community in Armenia diminished to 750 persons since independence with most emigrants leaving for Israel. There are currently two synagogues in Armenia – in the capital, Yerevan, and in the city of Sevan located near Lake Sevan.


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