TEHRAN: World Christians to commemorate apostle at St. Thaddeus Ch.

Mehr News Agency, Iran
June 26 2005

World Christians to commemorate apostle at Iran’s St. Thaddeus Church

TEHRAN, June 26 (MNA) — Christians from all over the world will
gather at Iran’s Saint Thaddeus Church on July 1 for their annual
commemoration of the martyrdom anniversary of St. Thaddeus.
The St. Thaddaeus Church, also known as the Black Church (Ghara
Kelisa), is probably Iran’s most interesting and notable Christian
monument, located near the Chalderan region in Maku, West Azarbaijan.

One of the 12 disciples, St. Thaddaeus, also known as St. Jude, (not
to be confused with Judas Iscariot), was martyred while spreading the
Gospel. He is revered as an apostle of the Armenian Church. As legend
has it, a church dedicated to him was first built on the present site
in 68 CE.

Nothing appears to remain of this original church, which was
extensively rebuilt in the 13th century, but some sections around the
altar may date to the 10th century. Most of the present structure
dates to the 17th century and is of carved sandstone. The oldest
sections are made of black and white stone.

The Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew traveled through Armenia in 45
CE to preach the word of God. Many people were converted and numerous
secret Christian communities were established there.

Around that time, Abgar died after ruling for 38 years and the
Armenian kingdom was split into two parts. His son Ananun crowned
himself in Edessa, while his nephew Sanatruk ruled in Greater
Armenia. About 66 CE, Ananun gave the order to kill St. Thaddeus in
Edessa. The king’s daughter Sandokht, who had converted to
Christianity, was martyred with Thaddeus. Her tomb is located near
the St. Thaddeus Church.

The church is surrounded by thick walls which form the outer ramparts
of some abandoned monastery buildings.

Only Christians will be allowed to visit the church during the
ceremony.

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