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ARMENIAN CHURCH TIMELINE

1. Birth of the Holy Savior Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. Years later, an Armenian prince, Abqar of Edessa (Urfa), invites Jesus to his court to cure him of an illness. Abgarís messengers encounter Jesus on the road to Calvary and receive a piece of cloth impressed with the image of the Lord. When the cloth is brought back to Edessa, Abgar is healed.

33. Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ On the 50th day after the Resurrection (Pentecost)the Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles gathered in Jerusalem.

43. The Apostle Thaddeus comes to Armenia to preach Christianity. He is martyred in Artaz in southeastern Armenia.

66-68. The Apostle Bartholomew preaches in Armenia. He is martyred in Albac, also in southeastern Armenia. The Armenian Church is apostolic because of the preaching of the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew in Armenia.

75. King Sanatruk and his daughter, Sandoukht convert to Christianity. Under pressure from his lords and pagan clergy, Sanatruk renounces Christianity and puts his daughter to death. She is the first saint of the Armenian Church.

286. King Trdat III imprisons the Christian Gregory, whose father had taken part in the assassination of Trdat IIIís father, King Khosrov I. Gregory is thrown into a pit in the royal castle of Artashat, where he remains for fifteen years.

301. Trdat III prersecutes Christians in Armenia. He kills a group of thirty seven Christian virgins who have fled to Armenia to escape Roman persecution, after one of the virgins, Hripsime, refuses to marry him. The leader of this group is Gayane who, along with Hripsimť is revered as one of the founding saints of the Armenian Church. After committing this crime, King Trdat goes insane. Trdatís sister, Khosrovidoukht has a dream in which a man tells her that the persecution of Christians must stop. She tells her brother that he will be cured if Gregory is released from the pit. The King agrees to release Gregory. Gregory restores Trdatís health and baptizes the King and the royal family. King Trdat declares Christianity the national religion and Armenia, thereby, becomes the first Christian state.

Later, Gregory has a vision in which Christ descends from heaven and strikes the earth at the town of Vagharshapat with a golden hammer. After this, Gregory has a vision of a great Christian temple rising. Gregory builds a reproduction of the church that he saw in his vision. He renames Vagharshapat "Etchmiadzin" (which means "the Descent of the Only-Begotten"). Because of his role in bringing the light of Christ to the Armenian people, St. Gregory is called "the Illuminator" and is venerated as the patron saint of the Armenian Church.

354. St. Augustine of Hippo is born and is one of the main figures in forming the western philosophical traditionís merger of the Greek philosophical tradition and Judeo-Christian religious tradition and belief.

365. St. nerses the Great (Catholicos Nerses I, 353-73) calls the first Armenian Church Council at Ashtishat. This Council makes provisions to establish order and uniformity in the churches. It also decides to found schools, hospitals and other charitable institutions.

387. Sahak Bartev, the son of St. Nerses the Great, becomes Catholicos Sahak I. With the financial support of King Vramshapuh, he actively encourages St. Mesrop Mashtots in his creation of the Armenian alphabet and the patronage of the first translators who translate important Christian texts into Armenian. The translation activity together with the composition of original Armenian works result in the Golden Age of Armenian literature in the 5th Century.

406. St. Mesrop Mashtots completes the Armenian alphabet.

433. TheTranslation of the Bible into Armenian is completed.

444. The Council of Shahabivan is held. The earliest Armenian canons (Church laws) are produced at this Council.

449. The Armenian Church holds a Council at Ashtishat in response to the edict of Yazdegird II, Emperor of Sassanid Persia, ordering the Armenians to convert to Zoroastrianism.

451. The Armenians, led by Vardan mamikonian and the priest Ghevond Erets, battle the Persians at Avarair, in what became known as the first battle that the Armenian people fought for the freedom of their conscience. The Armenians cannot attend the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon because of the war. The Council declares that Jesus Christ has two distinct natures, divine and human, that exist inseparably in one person; whereas the Armenian Church, together with Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Coptic, Indian (Malabar) chruches, continue to adhere to the formulation of St. Cyril of Alexandria: "One is the nature of the Incarnate Word."

484. After fighting a successful guerilla war under Vardan Mamikonianís nephew, Vahan, the Armenians sign the Treaty of Nvarsak with the Persians. The treaty recognizes the right of the Armenians to practice Christianity freely

607/08. The Armenian Church formally objects to the Christology of the Council of Chalcedon

614. The Persians destroy many of the over 70 Armenian churches and monasteries in Jerusalem. Many of these are never rebuilt.

661. The church and palace at Zvartnotz are completed.

685. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian II attempts to force the Armenian Apostolic Church to join the Byzantine Church. He devastates Armenia when the Armenians refuse.

737. Prince Vahan Goghtnatsi, who was raised as a Muslim in the Caliphís court, is executed by the Arabs for renouncing Islam in favor of Christianity.

862. The khatchkar (cross stone) reaches its artistic pinnacle at this time.

893. An earthquake ruins the Catholicosate in Dvin.

931. Catholicos Stepanos II Rshtouni transfers the Catholicosate to the island of Aghtamar, the royal seat of the Artsruni Kingdom of Vaspurakan.

947. The Catholicos Anania moves the See from Aghtamar to Argina (near Ani). During Ananiaís pontificate, monasteries such as Sanahin, Haghpat, Horomos and Narek are built.

951. Grigor narekatsi is born, who is thought by many to be the greatest mystical poet of the Armenian Church. He is best known for his "Book of Lamentations." a collection of 95 meditations.

988. King Smbat II Bagratuni, "the Master of the Universe," lays the cornerstone for the Cathedral of Ani.

989/90. Gagik I becomes King. Under Gagik I, the Bagratuni capital of Ani reaches its zenith and is renowed as "the city of 1,001 churches." Armenian architecture enters its golden age and its influences are felt as far as western Europe.

992. Catholicos Sargis I Sevantsi moves the Catholicosate from Arkina to Ani

1000. The Cathedral of Ani is completed.

1065. Grigor II Vkayaser (the Martyrophile) is consecrated Catholicos. He transfers the Catholicosate to Zamintia.

1097. The Crusaders of the First Crusade are assisted by the Armenians of Caesarea, Cilicia, and Syria, in their efforts to capture the Holy Land from Islam. For nearly the next three centuries, the Armenians are active at all levels of the Crusade

1113. A Church council in Cilicia condemns the bishop of Aghtamar who has declared himself Catholicos.

1147. Catholicos Grigor III moves the See of the Catholicosate to Hromkla in southeastern Cilicia.

1166. Nerses Shnorhali (the Gracious), the brother of Catholicos Grigor III, becomes Catholicos Nerses IV. Nerses Shnorhali is remembered as a Catholicos and poet. He is one of the major poets of Armenian medireview literature (the Silver Age of Armenian literature). His works are among the foremost in the Churchís "Book of Hours" and "Hymnal."

1168/69. Nerses Lambronatsi is ordained Archbishop of Tarsus. He is remembered for his leadership in the ecumenical movement to unify the various Christian churches.

1262. Toros Roslin, the greatest Armenian miniature painter, completes a gospel for prince Leo and Lady Keran. Toros is recognized as a precursor of the Italian Renaissance.

1292. The Mamelukes of Egypt capture the Catholicosate at Hromkla. Catholicos Stepanos IV and holy relics, including the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator, are taken to Cairo.

1293. The Catholicosate is moved to the Cilician capital of Sis.

1306. Dante Alighieri begins writing the Divine Comedy

1311. Creation of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem

1333. The artist Momik dies. Momik starts as a miniature painter in Cilicia. He is brought by Bishop Stepan Orbelian to Tatev monastery, the spiritual center of Siunik in eastern Greater Armenia. Momik is the best representative of the Gladzor school of miniature painting. In the early thirteenth century he makes khatchkars. He turns from miniature painting to architecture and builds a two story mausoleum-church in Noravank.

1346. The vartabed, philosopher, educator and theologian Grigor Tatevatsi is born in Vayots Dzor. Along with Grigor Tatevatsi, the vartabed Hovanness Vorotnetsi, a teacher, theologian, philosopher and founder of the university at Tatev, argues against union with Rome.

1441. A council is held at Vagharshapat. The seat of the Catholicos is moved from Sis back to its original seat at Etchmiadzin after a 957 year absence. The Catholicos at Sis, Grigor Mousapekyants, does not oppose the election of a new Catholicos at Etchmiadzin, but he does not move to Etchmiadzin himself. The jurisdiction of his successors is limited to Cilicia and the surrounding areas. The Council of Vagharshapat elects the monk Kirakos Khor Virapetsi as Catholicos of All Armenians. Catholicos Kirakos I revitalizes and reorganizes Holy Etchmiadzin.

1517. On October 31 Martin Luther posts the 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, in order to open up debate and spur reform in the Catholic Church. Soon after he became the leader of the Protestant Reformation.

1651. At the Council of Jerusalem, Philipos I Aghbaketsi Catholicos of All Armenians, and Nerses Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, meet and set canons defining the limits of the jurisdiction of the two Sees.

1666. The first printed Armenian Bible is produced in Amsterdam.

1701. A Benedictine order is founded in Armenia by Mkhitar of Sebastia in Constantinople.

1715. Hovhannes Kolot Baghishetsi becomes Patriarch of Constantinople. He founds a school in Iskudar and a library in Kum Kapu. His efforts result in the publication of the works of Agathangelos, Hovhan Mamikonian, Paustos Buzand, Mesrop Vayotstzoretsi, Grigor Tatevatsi and others. The Armenian Catholic Mkhitarist order is invited to settle on the island of San Lazzaro by the Serene Republic of Venice, where it remains to this day. The Mkhitarists are devoted to education and scholarship and have a large impact on Armenia and the Armenians.

1717. Grigor Shirvantsi accepts the position of Patriarch of Jerusalem. He is called "sheghtayagir" ("chain bearer") because he will wear a chain around his neck until the debts of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem are fully paid. With the support of Patriarch Hovhanes Kolot, he raises a vast amount of money to meet Jerusalemís needs.

1771. Under Catholicos Simeon I Yerevantsi (1763-80), the first printing press is set up in Etchmiadzin.

1773. The Mkhitarists set up a branch in Trieste and in 1811 they move to Vienna.

1828. Starting in the 1820ís American Protestant missionaries, having failed in their attempt to convert the Turks, seek to convert the Armenians to Protestantism. By the end of the 19th century there is an extensive network of Protestant Armenians.

1836. The Russian authorities regulate the Armenian Church through polozhenye (statutes). The statutes allow a great deal of internal autonomy for the Church. However, the statutes give power to a synod of 8 clergymen which is controlled by the Russian authorities.

1869. Bishop Mkrtich Khrimian becomes Patriarch of Constantinople. He was a Armenian patriot, who captured the imagination of the nation.

1873. Patriarch Mkrtich is forced to resign by Ottoman authorities. He is replaced with another patriot, Patriarch Nerses Varzhapetian.

1874. The Gevorgian seminary is founded at Etchmiadzin.

1879. Patriarch Nerses receives 75 Armenians who convert from Catholicism to the Armenian Church. Among these, is Maghakia Ormanian, future Patriarch of Constantinople.

1884. The Russians order the Russification of Armenian Church schools. The Church rejects the order. The Russians close Armenian schools.

1886. The Armenian clergy acquiesces to the Russian demands regarding a Russian curriculum in Armenian schools. However, over the next ten years the Armenian clergy resist Russian demands for greater Russification and manage to keep the schools open.

1889. The Partrairch of Constantinople, Khoren Ashekian, founds the Patriarchateís seminary at Armash. Archbishop Maghakia Ormanian is the first Dean of the seminary of Armash. He transforms it into a serious academic institution. The Armash seminary is destroyed in 1915.

1892. Mkrtich Khrimian (affectionately called Khrimian "Hairig") is elected Catholicos Mkrtich I at Etchmiadzin.

1902. Sahak II (born Gabriel Khapayan) is elected Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.

1903. Catholicos Mgrditch I Khrimian reacts skillfully and patiently to Russian attempts to confiscate property of the Armenian Church. Khrimian refuses to hand over the keys to Etchmiadzin to Russian authorities.

1911. Catholicos Gevorg V is elected.

1915. ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

1916. Jemal Pasha orders Sahak II to assume the new post of Catholicos-Patriarch of all Armenians in the Ottoman empire, based at Jerusalem after the abolition of the Sees of Sis, Aghtamar, Constantinople and Jerusalem. Sahak II reluctantly accepts, hoping that this will end the massacres of the Armenians. It does not. Gomidas Vardaped is put in an asylum in Constantinople. The Zaven Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople is exiled to Baghdad.

1917. Sahak II is exiled by the Ottomans to Damascus.

1918. Faced with the Turkish invasion of what is left of the Armenian homeland, Catholicos Gevorg V remains in Etchmiadzin against the advice of military authorities. Catholicos Sahak II returns to Cilicia.

1920. The Gregorian calendar is adopted.

1921. Sahak II is forced to flee Cilicia.

1929. The Catholicosate of Cilicia takes over the Dioceses of Beirut, Damascus and Latakia, formerly under control of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

1929. Catholicos Sahag II of Catholicate of Cilicia establishes the Armenian Church Sunday Schools in Aleppo.

1930. Gevorg V dies at Etchmiadzin. In 1932 he is succeeded by Khoren Muratbekyan.

1930    June 28th Catholicos Sahag II of Catholicate of Cilicia issues the Gontag with respect to  the Armenian Church Sunday Schools.

1931. After residing in Aleppo, Catholicos Sahak II settles in Antelias, north of Beirut, making it the new seat of the Catholicosate of Cilicia.

1938. Catholicos Khoren I is found murdered under mysterious circumstances.

1939. Catholicos Sahak II Vshtali (the Sorrowful) dies in Antelias.

1943. Archbishop Karekin Hovsepiants is elected Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. Due to the war, he has to wait two years to take up the post. As Catholicos he initiates co-operation between Etchmiadzin and Antelias and stimulates intellectual activities at Antelias.

1945. Catholicos Gevorg VI receives his office after negotiations with the Kremlin allowing for the election. Present at the election and consecration is Karekin I of the Great House of Cilicia. Gevorg VI re-establishes the seminary at Etchmiadzin.

1952. Catholicos Karekin I dies.

1955. Catholicos Vazken I is elected. As Catholicos, Vazken I travels extensively to create closer ties between Armenia and the Diaspora. He greatly strengthens Etchmiadzin in all respects under the very difficult conditions of Soviet rule. Under Vazken I, the Armenian Church joins the World Council of Churches.

1956. Zareh Payaslian is elected as the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. Catholicos Zareh I becomes the symbol of the Armenian nationís cause in exile.

1963. Catholicos Zareh Payaslian dies. Khoren Paroyan becomes Catholicos Khoren I of the Great House of Cilicia. That same year he meets with Catholicos Vazken I to discuss the rift between the two Sees.

1963. Father Karekin Sarkissian (later Karekin II Catholicos of Cilicia and Karekin I Catholicos of All Armenians in Etchniadzin establishes the ACUSA (Armenian Church University Students Association) or HEHOM.

1980    September 14, Armenian Church Sourp Hagop Sunday School is established in Montreal.

1983. Khoren I dies at Antelias. Karekin II becomes Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.

1988. The struggle for the liberation of Nagorno-Karabagh commences. On December 7, 1988, an earthquake kills tens of thousands in northwestern Armenia. Catholicos of All Armenians Vazken I and Catholicos Karekin II of the Great House of Cilicia work together to rally Armenia and the Diaspora to assist.

1992 December    1st issue of Mashdotsi Artsakank is printed.

1994. Vazken I dies.

1995. Karekin II of the Great House of Cilicia is elected Karekin I Catholicos of All Armenians at Etchmiadzin.

1996. Aram I is elected Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.

1999. Karekin I dies. Karekin Abp. Nersessian, Primate of the Araratian Diocese, is elected Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians.

2000     December 10, www.sourphagop.org is establshed.

2001. The 1700th anniversary of the Proclamation of Christianity as Armeniaís State Religion.

2003. The 1700th anniversary of the Mother cathedral of Etchmiadzin.