The Armenian Saint Gregory the Illuminator Church located at Hill Street in Singapore’s central business district is the oldest Christian church in the city-state. This masterpiece of famous architect George Drumgoole Coleman is one of the finest landmarks of the early architectural development of Singapore. The church was modeled after the Church of Saint Gregory in Etchmiadzin, Armenia.
Prior to the completion of the church and after the funds for the construction works had been collected, the first priest of the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, Reverend Krikor Hovhannes (Gregory John), arrived in Singapore in 1827.
By 1835, the church had been completed. Reverend Catchick Johannes consecrated the church in 1836. He would also dedicate the church to the first Patriarch of the Armenian Church, Saint Gregory the Illuminator (c. 257 – c. 331). The church was gazetted as a national monument on July 6, 1973.
The church grounds house the parsonage and the gorgeous Memorial Garden to Armenians. The parsonage was built by Nanajan Sarkies in memory of John Shanazar Sarkies, her late husband, in 1905. The Sarkies family was arguably the most notable Armenian family in Singapore. Several tombstones of renowned Armenians lie here as well, such as the tombstone of Agnes Joaquim, the discoverer of “Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid”, the national flower of Singapore.