Introduction and History of Monastery of Saint Thaddeus
A mixture of both darkness and lightning. The combination of both stories of destruction and reconstruction, Testimony and Baptist, black and white. The church of Monastery of Saint Thaddeus is located in West Azerbaijan and is the first church in the world to be a Christian community and believed to be based on the grave of Thaddeus [Thaddeus or Tataeus] one of the apostles of Christ who came to Armenia in the forties to preach Christianity and many converted to Christianity, including Sanatruk, the Armenian king and his daughter Sundokht. But after that, the sultan regretted opposing the new religion and ordered that Thaddeus, his daughter, and another Christian convert (about 3,500) be killed.
Naming the Monastery of Saint Thaddeus
In the Azeri language, Qarah has two meanings; its common meaning is black, so Qarah Church means Black Church. This makes more sense, given the black stones used in the church building. On the other hand, some believe that Qarah was the original “Kara Church” and that “Kara” in the old Azeri language means “comprehensive” and “great”, in which case Qarah Church means Great Church.
The architecture of the St. Thaddeus
The church consists of two parts: the Black Church and the White Church, the early church was originally made of black stones, but over time events such as the outbreak of numerous wars like the Ottoman Empire wars, the Genghis Mogul raid, and major earthquakes were damaged and sometimes the black stones were replaced by white stones. “Qare” in the Azeri language means black and this church has taken its name after these black stones.
The architecture of this church is the main architecture of St. Basilica, depicting a particular type of church architecture this Cathedral consists of a set of side spaces, two eastern and western courtyards as well as two rooms each of these rooms belonged to monks, scholars, writers of the time, guardians. Unlike other square churches, the church is rectangular in shape and the last repairs were made during the Qajar era, under the command of Abbas Mirza, son of Qajar’s second king. He intended to expand it by adding various buildings to the church. In addition to the events that have taken place in the black-and-white body of the church, it has also brought events from within the spirit of this church to the richest degree of spirituality whose impact is evident in the flowers and paintings in the church of Mary and baby Jesus in her arms. Some of these decorations can be seen in the stories of the Shahnameh that have been illustrated.
Monastery of Saint Thaddeus as Host of religious ceremonies
The Monastery of Saint Thaddeus is hosting one of the most important Armenian ceremonies. Many of them take their children to this church for baptism and believe that the baptism of their children in the First Church of Christ and the apostle’s martyrdom are blessed. Also, they sacrifice sheep, celebrate and ask for their wishes from God and Jesus. There is the tomb of the Armenian princess, the daughter of the Armenian king of Sundokht, who was martyred for her belief in Christianity which is located on a hill next to the church.
Pilgrimage to the St. Thaddeus Apostle Monastery
On December 17, 2020, the rite and pilgrimage of St. Thaddeus Church were added to the list of intangible human heritage in joint files with Armenia and were registered as Iran’s 16th intangible heritage in UNESCO. The Pilgrimage to St. Thaddeus is a religious rite held in West Azerbaijan, Iran, at the Church of the Holy Qara Church (the “Black Church”). Every year, thousands of Armenians from all over the world come to this historic site to perform this ritual. This ceremony commemorates the martyrdom of Thaddeus, one of Christianity’s first apostles, and Santukhd, the first female Christian martyr. Thaddeus, also known as Tataeus, was one of Christ’s apostles who visited Armenia in the year forty AD and preached Christianity. Many groups converted to Christianity because of his preaching, including Armenia’s King Sanatrok and his daughter Santukhd. However, the king later regretted it and became opposed to the new religion, ordering the assassination of Thaddeus, Sandakht (his daughter), and others.
The history of this ritual dates back to 1954, and it has been organized every year in St. Thaddeus Church by Armenians for 66 years with the presence of Armenians and Christians from Iran, Armenia, and other countries around the world. In addition, Armenians, Assyrian families, and some Catholic families also attended the ceremony. The ceremony is a social and cultural event that incorporates religious, ethnic, and traditional motives. Every year in July, rituals, and pilgrimages to St. Thaddeus Church (Qara Church) are held. During these three days, ceremonies such as infant, child, and adolescent baptisms, weddings, candle lighting, and church bell ringing are held inside the church and in the surrounding area.
Monastery of Saint Thaddeus, As a World Heritage
Due to the unique features, importance, and historical-spiritual value of this church and the preservation of the oldest and most prominent symbols of Armenian architecture in the world, on July 17th, 2008, the Qarah Church complex, including 3 main churches named Qarah Church or St. Thaddeus, St. Stephen, and Dzordzor were added to the list of World Heritage Site as the ninth World Heritage site in Persia at the 32nd UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Quebec, Canada.
Location of the St. Thaddeus
The church is located in the West of Azerbaijan province, 20 kilometers northeast of Siah Cheshmeh, and in the divisions of the province is located in Chaldoran and south of Maku. After visiting this beautiful Armenian Church, you can visit the tomb of the Sundokht, the daughter of the King (put the name of the King) – king of Armenia, and other attractions nearby.