One of the most crucial events in Armenian history was the conversion of Armenia to Christianity. It is often said to have been preached by the Holy Apostles, or the immediate disciples of the Apostles, notably St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew.
Armenians pride themselves to be the first nation to adopt Christianity as the official religion of their state in 301 A.D. It established a Church that still exists independently of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox churches, today this church is known as the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is a part of the Oriental Orthodox communion, not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox communion.
The history of Armenia itself has been a tragedy all through the centuries. Every aspect of her life , the geographical situation of the country, her cultural tradition, and then, from the beginning of the fourth century, her adherence as a nation to Christianity-all these go to make up the tragic story of Armenia. Despite all invasions and its political eclipses, Armenia depended on the church to preserve and protect its unique identity.
The original location of the Armenian Catholicosate is Echmiadzin. Holy Echmiadzin is the Vatican of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the place where Surp Grigor Lusavorich (St Gregory the Illuminator) saw a beam of light fall to the earth in a divine vision, and where he built the first Mayr Tachar (Mother Church of Armenia). For Armenian Christians, Echmiadzin (Descent of the Only Begotten Son of God) has unparalleled importance. Echmiadzin was the capital of Armenia from 180 to 340. The seat of the Catholicos (patriarch of all Armenians) wandered across western Armenia for centuries before returning to the Mayr Tachar in 1441, with substantial rebuilding in the 15th century. The cathedral has sprouted more bell towers over the last 400 years, but the core is much as St Gregory’s vision guided him. The Palace of the Catholicos in front of the Mayr Tachar is the home of the present Catholicos, Garegin II, enthroned in November 1999. He is the supreme prelate of the 1700-year-old Armenian Apostolic faith.