This Saturday, December 3, the Armenian Church commemorates Saints Thaddeus and Bartholomew, two of the twelve apostles who were the first evangelizers of Armenia, and were martyred there, giving the Armenian Church its apostolic identity and earning them the title, “First Enlighteners of Armenia.”
Thaddeus came to Armenia about 43 AD to preach Christianity. He was martyred in southeastern Armenia. His tomb lies in the Armenian monastery of St. Thaddeus (Iran) where a chapel was built in the third century. Bartholomew is believed to have arrived in Armenia about 66 AD. He was martyred in Hadamakert, southeast of Lake Van.
An apostle is “someone who is sent”—an emissary or ambassador of the Kingdom of God, sent to announce the gospel of Jesus Christ, and authorized to claim men and women’s allegiance to him. “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).