Q: Which country in the world was the first to declare Christianity as its state religion and when did it do so? A: Armenia in 301 A.D.
Tradition states that in the 60’s A.D. the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus (Jude) first brought the good news of Christ to what is now known as Armenia. Consequently, the Armenian Apostolic Church today regards Bartholomew and Thaddeus as its patron saints. Tradition also holds that Bartholomew suffered martyrdom in Armenia, either by beheading or by being flayed alive and then being crucified upside down. What led to his death was his having led the king of Armenia, Polymius, to faith in Christ. Enraged over such, Polymius’ brother, Astyages, ordered Bartholomew’s death.
Several thousand Armenians live in Israel today, most of whom live in Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv/Jaffa. In Jaffa, we walked by the St. Nicolas Armenian Apostolic Church (constructed in the 1600’s) and the Saint Nicholas Monastery adjacent to it. The picture here is of a cross that stands above the monastery’s courtyard.