|This is an opinion article from a user of WikiChristian.|
From June 19, 2004
Today we caught a rickety old bus to the nearby town of Echmiadzin. The Armenian equivalent to the Vatican, this is the home of the Supreme Catholicos (leader) of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The people of Armenia adopted Christianity in the early 4th Century; the story is really quite unusual... King Trdates III of Armenia wanted to marry Hripsime, a Christian woman, but she refused because he was was a pagan. So, in a fit of rage, he had her stoned to death. After this, he went mad, and the only person who could cure him was a Christian named Gregory who had been imprisoned in a well for 12 years for his faith. After recovering from his madness, Trdates converted to Christianity, and so did the rest of the country. The Armenian Apostolic Church belongs to the Eastern Oriental group of churches after breaking away from the churches of Rome and Greece in 504 AD, over a matter of doctrine regarding the nature of Christ's divinity and humanity...
The church complex at Echmiadzin was quiet and peaceful, with a number of visitors and priests milling around. At the centre lies the main church building. Legend has it that the above-mentioned Gregory had a dream in which Jesus told him where to build the church and gave him the title of Gregory the Illuminator. The church had an elaborate pattern on the ceiling, numerous pictures of saints, and a central altar with a jewelled cross and an old bible on display. Many people entered the church, knelt at the altar, kissed the cross and the Bible, and then walked out backwards, so as to keep facing the altar the whole time. Other people came in to light candles and pray. The building itself had an interesting style with several towers, which we find difficult to describe. After wandering round the area for a while in the sweltering heat, we caught a bus back to Yerevan for our afternoon nap... (It was just too hot to go outside).
We have been commenting the whole time how dangerously people drive here. Crossing the road is a very difficult task, requiring much patience. We saw an accident last night, and today on the bus, we passed a pedestrian who had been hit moments earlier by a car - the woman was lying dead on the road as crowds looked on...
This evening we walked up the Cascade, a enormous monument/staircase, built by the Russians in 1970, for the 50th anniversary of Soviet control of Armenia. It's basically a lot of steps covering a hillside with fountains here and there. At the top of the monument, there was a great view of Yerevan with the two mountains, Mount Ararat and Little Ararat towering in the distance. Afterwards we ate traditional Armenian (Caucasian) food at a cafe - lamb, potatoes, shish kebabs with lots of dill and raw onions. Good thing you're far away in Australia because our breath must stink!
I've cut this from the travellogue my wife and I kept when we went travelling one year (original site Travels abroad)