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|Armenian Apostolic Church|
Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church
|Founder||Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus|
|Independence||Second Council of Dvin (554)|
|First head||Gregory the Illuminator|
|Primate||Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II|
|Headquarters||Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Vagharshapat, Armenia|
The Armenian Apostolic Church (Armenian: Հայ Առաքելական Եկեղեցի, Hay Aṙak’elakan Yekeghetsi) is the national church of the Armenian people. Part of Oriental Orthodoxy, it is one of the most ancient Christian communities.Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion, in the early 4th century. The church claims to have originated in the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus in the 1st century.
It is sometimes referred to as the Armenian Orthodox Church or Gregorian Church. The latter is not preferred by the church itself, as it views the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus as its founders, and St. Gregory the Illuminator as merely the first official governor of the church. It is also simply known as the Armenian Church.
The Armenian Church believes apostolic succession through the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus. According to legend, the latter of the two apostles is said to have cured Abgar V of Edessa of leprosy with the Image of Edessa, leading to his conversion in 30 AD. Thaddaeus was then commissioned by Abgar to proselytize throughout Armenia, where he converted the king Sanatruk's daughter, who was eventually martyred alongside Thaddeus when Sanatruk later fell into apostasy. After this, Bartholomew came to Armenia, bringing a portrait of the virgin Mary, which he placed in a nunnery he founded over a former temple of Anahit. Bartholomew then converted the sister of Sanatruk, who once again martyred a female relative and the apostle who converted her. Both apostles ordained native bishops before their execution, and some other Armenians had been ordained outside of Armenia by James the Just.
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