Monastery of Saint Thaddeus
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Location||Chaldoran County, Iran|
|Part of||Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran|
|Criteria||Cultural: (ii), (iii), (vi)|
|Inscription||2008 (32nd Session)|
|Area||40 ha (0.15 sq mi)|
|Buffer zone||311 ha (1.20 sq mi)|
The Monastery of Saint Thaddeus (Armenian: Սուրբ Թադէոսի վանք, Surb Tadeosi vank; Persian: کلیسای تادئوس مقدس, Kelisā-ye Tādeus moghadas) is an ancient Armenian monastery in the mountainous area of West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. It is believed to be one of the oldest church buildings in the world
Also known as Kara Kilise (the "Black Church") (Persian: قره کلیسا, Qare Kelisā), it is located about 20 kilometers from the town of Chaldiran. The monastery and its distinctive Armenian conical roofs are visible from long distances.
History and architecture
According to the tradition of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Saint Thaddeus, also known as Saint Jude, (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot), evangelized the region of Armenia and Persia. Thaddeus suffered martyrdom in Armenia, according to the same tradition, and is revered as an apostle of the Armenian Church. Legend has it that a church dedicated to him was first built on the present site in AD 68.
Little remains of the monastery's original structure, as it was extensively rebuilt after an earthquake damaged it in 1319. Nevertheless, some of the parts surrounding the altar apse date from the 7th century.
Much of the present structure dates from 1811, when the Qajar prince Abbas Mirza aided renovations and repairs. Simeon, Father Superior of the monastery, added a large narthex-like western extension to the church.
The western extension duplicates the design of Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The 19th century additions were constructed from ashlar sandstone. The earliest sections are of black and white stone, hence its Turkic name Qara kilise, meaning "the Black Church."
In July 2008, the Monastery of Saint Thaddeus was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List, along with two other Armenian monuments in the same province: the Monastery of Saint Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor.
Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew
According to Armenian Church tradition, the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew traveled through Armenia in AD 45 to preach the word of God, where many people were converted and numerous secret Christian communities were established.
The ancient Christian historian Moses of Khorene told the following story, considered a legend by most modern historiographers. Thaddeus converted King Abgar V of Edessa. After his death, the Armenian kingdom was split into two parts. His son Ananun crowned himself in Edessa, while his nephew Sanatruk ruled in Armenia. About AD 66, Ananun gave the order to kill Saint Thaddeus in Edessa. The king's daughter Sandokht, who had converted to Christianity, was martyred with Thaddeus. Her tomb is said to be located near the Qara Kelisa.
The annual ceremony and pilgrimage in the St. Thaddeus Monastery was held 14-16 July 2016. It was held by the Armenian Diocese of Atrpatakan. In December 2020, UNESCO added the pilgrimage to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
- Korbendau, Yves; Parker, Claire; McElhearn, Kirk (2008). The Many Faces of Iran. Paris: ACR Editions. ISBN 9782867701535.
- "St Thaddeus Monastery". Index of Armenian Art: Armenian Architecture. Archived from the original on 2010-06-10.
- Trotta, Liz (1998). Jude: A Pilgrimage to the Saint of Last Resort. San Francisco: Harper Collins. ISBN 9780060682743.
- "Thadeus Monastery". Armenica.org.
- McBirnie, William Steuart (1973). The Search For the Twelve Apostles. Wheaton Ill.: Tyndale Momentum. pp. 154–157. ISBN 9780842358392.
- Donabédian, Patrick; Thierry, Jean-Michel (1989). Armenian Art. New York: Harry N Abrams. p. 308. ISBN 978-0810906259.
- Wilmshurst, David (2011). The Martyred Church: A History of the Church of the East. East & West Publishing Limited. pp. 7–9. ISBN 978-1-907318-04-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Thaddeus Monastery.|
- UNESCO World Heritage: Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran
- Thaddeus Monastery at Armeniapedia
- St Thaddeus at Armenica.org[permanent dead link]
- Armenian Architecture studies
- Hamid-Rezā Hosseini, Sound of the Ancient Bell, in Persian, Jadid Online, October 31, 2008, 
A shorter English version: Iran's World Heritage Monastery, Jadid Online, December 25, 2008: 
Slide show (with English subtitles):  (5 min 41 sec)