Armenia

[map of Armenia]
Republic in eastern Asia Minor covering 11,945 square miles. There is some uncertainty as to the introduction of Christianity into Armenia, some historians connecting the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus with its evangelization. This honor, however, is generally attributed to Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who, in the third century, converted King Tiridates and many of his subjects, thus making Armenia the first Christian state. Hospitals and charitable institutions were founded about 365 and the Bible translated into Armenian in the 5th century. The first signs of heresy appeared in the 6th century with Gnosticism and Paulicianism, and later Nestorianism and Monophysitism became widespread. This latter gained a great hold among the Armenians who rejected the Council of Chalcedon, which condemned it and adopted the Monophysite doctrine of a single nature in Christ, thereby breaking away from the papal allegiance and establishing a separate church, called the Gregorian, after Gregory the Illuminator. Some of them, however, accepted the Council of Chalcedon in 593, and thus divided the church. Numerous efforts at reconciliation with Rome have been attempted but the Church has remained split into two factions, the greater number of Armenians belonging to the Gregorian or non-Uniat Church while the members of the Uniat Church, mainly scattered outside Armenia, acknowledge the pope as their head, retaining their own rite. See also