ARTAZ–IRAN–Five-thousand Armenia’s from Iran and around the world took the annual three-day pilgrimage to the monastery of Tadeh (St. Thaddeus) in the Artaz region of Iran–to honor one of Jesus Christ’s twelve apostles.
The pilgrims arrived at the Tadeh monastery on July 22. That evening–a service was conducted by the representative of His Holiness Aram II–Catholicosal Vicar Varoujan Hergelian–the Archbishop of Cyprus–along with the vicar of the Adrbadakan Armenian Church–Reverend Nshan Topuzian.
Later that evening–200 youth from Adrbadakan–Isphahan–and Tehran participated in a seminar on the Year of the Armenian Family.
Catholicos Aram II’s encyclical marking the 50th anniversary of the pilgrimage was read during Holy Mass on July 23.
Other highlights in the monastery included a concert by the Gomidas choir of Tavriz–and the baptism of 28 children.
The St. Thaddeus Monastery is perched on a mountain ridge beside a stream–sunken into the rock–thus giving it a natural fortified position.
As legend has it–St. Thaddeus founded the monastery in 68 AD–on the site of a former pagan temple. Time after time it was destroyed by invasions and struck by earthquakes–the most devastating of which occurred in 1319. Nothing remains of the original church–which was extensively rebuilt and enlarged in the 13th century–but some parts around the altar may date from the 10th century. Most of the present structure dates from the 17th century and is of carved sandstone. The monastery–two churches–portico–and numerous rooms that are on this sacred site are strategically situated on a spot that yielded independence and relative security. A thick wall also encloses this complex that protected it from sieges by aggressive and violent neighbors.
St. Thaddeus Monastery only has one service a year that is held during the annual pilgrimage in July.