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Armenian Religion

by: Maral Najarian

This Page consists of some very basic information on the Armenian Church.

As I have stated in the page about the Armenian Language, Armenia became the first Christian Nation as of 301 A.D. During this time, King Dirtad III was ruling. To make a long story short, he was cured from a disease by a Christian Monk named Gregory. Armenians more commonly know him as Krikor Lusavorich or Gregory the Illuminator. This illness occured shortly after King Dirtad ordered the brutal martyrdom of St. Hripsime and her companions the 40 Virgins After his miraculous cure, King Dirtad III accepted Christianity as Armenian's official state Religion. Before this event, two disciples brought Christianity over to Armenia: St. Thaddeus (St. Jude) and St. Bartholemew (St. Nathaniel).

Here is an interesting clip from a 1979 Documentary about the Armenian Church:

Armenian Denominations

Over time the Armenian Church has evolved and branched out into many other denominations; the most dominant one being Orthodox. I myself am an Armenian Catholic The two groups hold many of the same traditions passed down by their father in faith St. Gregory.

The hymms are identical. For example, you couldn't tell the difference if you were listening to the music of an Armenian Orthodox mass as opposed to the music of an Armenian Catholic mass. One very famous composer of Armenian Liturgical music is Gomidas Vartabed. His arrangements of "Soorp, Soorp" (Holy, Holy), Der Voghormya (Lord Have Mercy) or "Hayr Mer" (Our Father) can be heard at both these masses.

If you would like to learn more about Gomidas Vartabed, Celibate Priest, singer, composer, and Father of Armenian music, here is a wonderful video:

Armenian Orthodox and Catholics both profess the same creed, believe in the Holy sacrifice of the mass which Armenians call the badarak, literally meaning "sacrifice" and they also believe in the substantial real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Clergy and Matrimony

Armenian Catholic priests cannot take on the sacrament of Matrimony. In contrast an Armenian Orthodox priest can take on the sacrament of Matrimony, but only before he becomes ordained. Any higher ranking religious figure must remain celibate. An Armenian single priest is called a "Vartabed" or "Hayr" and a married priest is called a "Der Hayr." A "Yeritzkeen" is a "Der Hayr's" wife. I hope I haven't confused anyone :)

Confession

The sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession is slightly different in both religions also. The Armenian Catholic way (like the Roman Catholic way) is to tell your personal sins to a priest usually within the confessional. Through this sacrament one recieves absolution. In contrast, in the Armenian Orthodox Church, members recieve absolution as a group before recieving the Eucharist. There is no one on one confession taking place.

I am not very familiar with Armenian Evangelical movements throughout history, but here is some information if you wish to find out more! Armenian Missonary Association of America

I know there are many other branches of the Armenian religion that i don't know much about. So please if you have some interesting information please email me:

maraljan@hotmail.com

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