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Mysteries of Armenia

At the Dawn of a New Era

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The penetration of Christianity into Armenia began immediately after Christ’s Crucifixion. As early as in the first half of the 1st century Apostle Thaddeus was already preaching on the Armenian land. It was not long before the accession of Tiridates I to the throne. The short period of his reign was not only accompanied by the Christians’ oppressions, but also by a simultaneous spread of Christianity among noble families, including the ruling dynasty. Thaddeus was repeatedly arrested and put into dungeon, but according to the later Christian tradition, each time he was “released with God’s help”. In all probability, he was included in the royal amnesty, as there is some evidence of the adoption of the new teaching by the successor of Tiridates I, the Armenian King Sanatruk. If they represent the facts then Sanatruk was the first Christian king in history. He only ascended to the throne 37 years after Christ’s Crucifixion. In fact, he receded later on and even persecuted the followers of Christianity. In that period, the Christians gathered in natural catacombs of difficult access. The religious adherents, who were noble by birth, used those secluded areas as chapels and cathedrals. The numerous recesses connected with secret passages offered shelter from persecution. One of such caves with a high dual entrance (25 meters high) has been preserved not far from Noravank monastery, in the gorge of the Arpa River.

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