Armenian Monastery Of St. Thaddeus In Iran: UNESCO World Heritage Site
“Pilgrimage to the Armenian Monastery of St. Apostle Thaddeus” in Iran is included in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2020. The monastery itself was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008, in the category of “Armenian Churches of Iran”.
The annual three-day pilgrimage to the Thaddeus Apostle Monastery in northwestern Iran venerates two prominent saints: St. Thaddeus, an Apostle of Christ, and St. Sandukht, the first female Christian martyr.
The 7th century Armenian monastery of St. Thaddeus, also known as the monastery of “Kara-Kelisa” (“Black Church”) is one of the oldest Armenian complexes in Iran. Now inactive, it is located in the province of Western Azerbaijan in Iran, in the Chaldoran region, just 20 km from the city of Maku.
The name of the monastery is associated with the Holy Apostle Thaddeus, whose alleged grave is located on the territory of the monastery. One of the 12 Apostles of Christ, Saint Thaddeus died a martyr's death, spreading the Holy Gospel.
According to an ancient Armenian tradition, the Apostle Thaddeus, after many torments, was beheaded. He is worshiped as an apostle of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The legend says that the first church at the tomb of the Saint appeared here in 68 AD.
The monastery was rebuilt several times, and the current building was built in 1329. Most of the modern buildings of the monastery belong to the beginning of the 19th century, when it was reconstructed with the assistance of the Iranian prince Abbas Mirza.
For more than 50 years, there has been no priest in this monastery, and no regular services have been performed. The annual pilgrimage is the primary social and cultural event for the Iranian-Armenians from Tehran, Isfahan, Qazvin, Tabriz and Urmia, and Armenian pilgrims from Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany, Canada, and many other countries of the world.
The commemoration ceremony includes special liturgies, processions, prayers, and fasting. It culminates in a Divine Liturgy. Special times are set aside for traditional Armenian folk performances and Armenian dishes are served. This celebration is the largest Christian religious holiday of Armenians in the Middle East.
To include the visit to St. Thaddeus Monastery to your Iran itinerary, and to attend the Divine Liturgy (the first week of July), please contact us at email@example.com
Please, check it out the itineraries of our two popular Iran tours: