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The spread of Christianity in Armenia in the I-III centuries

The history of the earliest period of the Armenian Church was fixed in writing only in thebeginning of the fifth century, when the Armenian alphabet was invented. Till that period allinformation about the Armenian Church was passed on verbally from one generation to another.According to the Holy Tradition of the Armenian Church, Christianity originated in the territoryof Armenia at the Apostolic age. Historical records prove that on the Armenian land Christianitywas preached by two disciples of Jesus Christ: the Holy Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew.After the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, St. Thaddeus arrived in Edessa. He ordained Addeh as abishop, cured King Abgar of Osrohene from leprosy, and then left for Greater Armenia to preachthe Word of God.

St. Thaddeus converted a great number of people to Christianity, including a daughter of KingSanatruk. Since Christianity was a forbidden religion under heavy persecution that time, the kingordered to execute his daughter as well as the Apostle and all new converts when he learnedabout that.

Several years later St. Bartholomew arrived in Armenia. He converted to Christianity manynobles as well as the king’s sister. St. Bartholomew was also martyred by the king’s order for hismissionary work.

According to the historical novel fragment preserved until today, after the martyrdom of theApostle St. Thaddeus, his disciples moved to a remote place near the mouth of the EuphatesRiver. When Artashes became a king, they came to his palace and started to preach the Gospel.Since King Artashes was engaged with a war in the East, he asked the disciples to visit him againwhen he returned from the war to continue their discussions about Lord Jesus Christ. When theking was absent, the preachers converted to Christianity some princes from the country of Alan,who had arrived to visit Queen Satenik, and they were martyred for that.

In the first century Christianity was widely spread in the countries located near Armenia:Cappadocia, Adiabene and Osrohene. The political, cultural and trade relations with thosecountries promoted the spread of the Christian faith in the territory of Armenia. Plus, in the firstthree centuries Lesser Armenia was a part of Roman province Cappadocia, and that fact was alsobeneficial for the spread of Christianity.


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