SHAFAQNA- IRNA: The Kara (Qare) Kelisa (meaning black church), which is located about 20 kilometers from the town of Chaldoran in northwestern Iranian province of West Azarbaijan and is well known as the first church built in the world after the martyrdom of Saint Thaddeus over his tomb, is going to be repaired.
Qara Kelisa, also known as the St. Thaddeus Church, in Chaldoran County, northwestern Iran is one of the oldest and most notable surviving Christian monuments of Iran that carries great significance for the country’s Armenian Orthodox community.
Armenians hold that Qara Kelisa is 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.
According to the Director of the World Heritage Site of the Churches of Iran, the restoration of “St. Thaddeus Church” is carried out taking into account the views of technical experts in accordance with UNESCO standards and no action is taken arbitrarily without acceptance of experts.
“The stones used in the restoration work are similar in quality and color to the original one, but according to experts, two percent of the church stones are white,” Shirley Audian said.
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.
This year the 65th Badarak religious ceremony took place on July 25 –27 in the Qara Kelisa and pilgrims from various countries took part in the event.
Holding the annual ceremony is not only indicative of different religions and ethnic groups’ peaceful life, it also demonstrates peace and friendship among Iranians.
During the ceremony, 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.
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