According to “Tehran Times”, an exhibition of paintings is currently being held in the Armenian monastery of St. Thaddeus in Iran to mark the 12th anniversary of the inclusion of the monastery in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The exhibition containing 77 paintings by children and adolescents was opened by Archbishop Gregor Chiftechyan and the director of the Armenian monastic ensembles of Iran Shirli Avedian.
Also known as Kara Klise (“Black Church”), the monastery is one of the oldest surviving Christian monuments in the country. It is located in the Chaldoran County in about 20 kilometers from Maku, close to the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
The ancient church displays intricate bas-reliefs of flowers, animals, and human figures on the façade and exterior walls. It also contains verses from the Old and New Testaments in Armenian calligraphy.
Every summer, an annual religious ritual is held at the St. Thaddeus Monastery. In July last year, over 3,000 Christian believers from Iran, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany, Canada, and other countries took part in it. The baptism of children and youth along with performances of traditional songs and dances were some of the highlights of this pilgrimage.
This holiday is of great importance for the Iranian Armenians who mainly come here from the cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Tehran, Isfahan, and Qazvin to organize group and family reunions.
Participants celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Thaddeus (Jude the Apostle), one of the twelve disciples killed while he was preaching the Gospel. Legend has it that a church dedicated to him was first built in 68 AD at the location of Kara Klise.
Thaddeus was the apostle of Christ, and the annual rite is rooted in the last supper with Jesus Christ on the night of his arrest and execution by Roman soldiers.
Together with the Monastery of St. Stepan and the Dzorzor Chapel, Kara Klise was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the category “Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran” in 2008.