St. Thaddeus Monastery hosting painting exhibit to mark UNESCO-listing anniversary

August 5, 2020 - 19:30

TEHRAN – A painting exhibition is currently underway at the St. Thaddeus Monastery, in the northwestern West Azarbaijan province, on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the monastery’s inscription on UNESCO World Heritage list.

The exhibition, which displays 77 paintings by children and teenagers, was inaugurated by the Archbishop of Azarbaijan’s Armenians Gregor Chiftechian, CHTN quoted the director of Iran’s Armenian monastic ensembles Sherly Avedian as saying on Monday.

Also known as the Qareh Klise (“the Black Church”), the monastery is one of the oldest surviving Christian monuments in the country. It is situated in Chaldoran county, some 20 kilometers from Maku, adjacent to the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.

The ancient church shows off elaborate bas-reliefs of flowers, animals, and human figures on its façade and exterior walls. It bears verses of the Old and New Testament in Armenian calligraphy as well.

St. Thaddeus Monastery plays host an annual religious ritual every summer. Last July, it hosted over 3,000 Christian worshippers coming together from Iran, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany, Canada, and some other countries.

Baptism of children and youngsters along with performances of traditional songs and dances are amongst highlights of the pilgrimage.

The festivity is of high importance for Iranian-Armenians who mostly come from the cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Tehran, Isfahan, and Qazvin, to stage the reunion in groups and families.

Attendees commemorate the martyrdom of St. Thaddeus, one of the twelve disciples killed while he was preaching the Gospel. The legend says a church dedicated to him was first built in 68 CE where Qareh Klise is standing.

Thaddeus was an apostle of Christ and the ceremony is rooted in the last supper with Jesus Christ on the night of his arrest and execution by the Roman soldiers.

Together with St. Stepanos Monastery and the Chapel of Dzordzor, Qareh Klise was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008 under the name “Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran”.

All three sites are located in West Azarbaijan and are of high significance from historical and cultural perspectives. They bear credible testimony to interchanges with the ancient regional societies in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox, and Persian. UNESCO says that they bear examples of the outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions.


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