Global registration of Thaddeus ritual fulfilled: official
– Deputy Director General of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department of West Azarbaijan province Hassan Sepehrfar said on Saturday that global registration of St. Thaddeus Church pilgrimage signifies Iranian respect for divine religions.
Sepehrfar told IRNA that Global registration of St. Thaddeus Church ritual - which is held every year in Gara Kelisa (Black Church) - was fulfilled with the aim of further protecting this sacred ritual and fostering greater affinity among followers of the divine religions with the joint proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Armenia.
Holding the Qara Kelisa (black church) Complex annual religious ceremony of Armenians known as Badarak is the symbol of religious minorities' freedom in exercising their rituals in the Islamic Republic of Iran, he said.
Badarak religious ceremony takes place on July in the Qara Kelisa and pilgrims from various countries take part in the event, observing the annual ceremony is not only indicative of different religions and ethnic groups' peaceful life, it also demonstrates peace and friendship among Iranians.
Foreign visitors and pilgrims could see Armenians' freedom of action to perform religious practices and share the experience with foreigners around the world. This is a very suitable way to combat the enemies’ anti-Iran propaganda about freedom of ethnic minorities to perform their rituals.
Qara Kelisa, also known as the St. Thaddeus Church, in Chaldoran County, northwestern Iran is one of the most ancient and most notable surviving Christian monuments of Iran that carries great significance for the country's Armenian Orthodox community.
Armenians regard Qara Kelisa as the world's first church and was constructed in 68 BC by one of the apostles of Jesus, Saint Thaddeus, who traveled to Armenia, then part of the Persian Empire, to preach the teachings of Christ.
The church is composed of two parts: a black structure, the original building of the church from which it takes its name and a white structure, the main church, which was added to the original building's western wing in 1810 CE.
An ancient chapel two kilometers northwest of the church is said to have been the place where the first Christian woman, Sandokh, was martyred. The chapel is believed to be as old as Qara Kelisa.
The structure was inscribed along with two other monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith namely St. Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor.
Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA