Christian worshippers make pilgrimage to St. Thaddeus

July 19, 2021 - 18:13

TEHRAN – A limited number of Christian worshippers have assembled for observing their annual ritual and pilgrimage at St. Thaddeus in West Azarbaijan province.

The essential core of the pilgrimage, called Badarak, is traditionally observed by travelers from Iran, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany, Canada, and some other countries. However, this year, only a limited number of Iranian Christians were allowed to attend the ceremony due to coronavirus restrictions.

“This year, due to the spread of the coronavirus, the ceremony was held only with the presence of Iranian Armenians in a limited scope, and with the absence of foreign guests,” deputy provincial tourism chief Hassan Sepehrfar said on Monday.

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

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. It also provides them an opportunity to go on holiday and visit distant relatives.

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.

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 Old and New Testament in Armenian calligraphy as well.

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 has it that the churches bear examples of the outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions.

AFM

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