Saghmosavank in Armenia

On the way back to Yerevan I stopped at Saghmosavank (“Monastery of Psalms”) another Armenian sight close to a spectacular gorge, this time the Kasakh Gorge. The monastery has a large gavit to the west of the Zion church. A gavit serves as a narthex, mausoleum and assembly room for the church, but at Saghmosavank the gavit was built after both the Zion church and the smaller Mother of God Church.

I’d been told two Apostles brought Christianity to Armenia, namely St Bartholomew and St Thaddeus (or Jude). This seemed like a lot of apostles for one small country, and only left 10 for the rest of the known world. However, it may explain why Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity, traditionally in the year 301. The church is sometimes referred to as the Armenian Orthodox Church or Gregorian Church. The latter is not preferred by the church itself, as it views the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus as its founders. St. Gregory the Illuminator is regarded as merely the first official governor of the church.

Anyway, at Saghmosavank, a priest from the Armenian Church had just conducted a service and I took the opportunity to ask two questions translated by a guide: The first question was “Why did two apostles travel to Armenia when everywhere else just received one?” When the priest heard the question in Armenian he smiled and gave a short reply, translated as “God willed it.” This was also his answer to my second question, which was “Why was Armenia the first country to adopt Christianity?” I suppose God had willed it that I was able to ask those two questions on this day, but his replies were still not very satisfying.

Published by Julian Worker

I was born in Leicester. I attended school in Yorkshire and University in Liverpool. I have been to 93 countries and territories including The Balkans and Armenia in 2015, France and Slovakia in 2016, and some of the Greek Islands in 2017. My sense of humour is distilled from The Goons, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. I love being creative in my writing and I love writing about travelling. My next books are a travel book about Greece and a novel inspired by Brexit.

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