Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar Island

Ախթամարի Սուրբ Խաչ եկեղեցի (“Akhtamari Surb Khach Yekeghetsi”, Holy Cross Church of Akhtamar) is an early medieval monastery of Armenian Apostolic Church and has been built by architect Manuel during 915-921. The Surb Khach church is one of the unique monuments of architecture and fine examples of artistic progress in Armenia during 9th century.

Since 1113 for quite some time it has been the residence of Akhtamar Catholicosate of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The reason for this was the disagreement of 5 bishops with the installation of young Grigor III Pahlavuni as a patriarch. His jurisdiction extended only to Vaspurakan.

Since 13th century, during the era of Mongol rule, Akhtamar’s Catholicoi have been elected from the genus Artsruni-Hedenekid. Soon after that the rank has become hereditary. Using protection of Jahan Shah Kara-Koyunlu, Catholicos Zakaria III managed to unite Akhtamar’s Catholicosate with Etchmiadzin, but only 14 dioceses for a short time.

At the end of 18th century after lengthy disputes between the two Catholicosates regarding the delimitation of jurisdiction the primacy of Echmiadzin was recognized. At the end of 19th century Akhtamar’s Catholicosate have already had 2 dioceses with 302 churches and 58 monasteries. In 1895 the dioceses moved to the jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate of the Armenian Church. The monastery was emptied after the genocide of the Armenian people of 1915.


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