Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church based in Egypt and the Middle East. The head of the Church and the See of Alexandria is the Patriarch of Alexandria on the Holy See of Saint Mark, who carries the title of Coptic Pope; the See of Alexandria is titular, today the Coptic Pope presides from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District in Cairo. The church follows the Alexandrian Rite for its liturgy and devotional patrimony. With 18–22 million members worldwide, whereof about 15 to 20 million are in Egypt, it is the country's largest Christian church. According to its tradition, the Coptic Church was established by Saint Mark, an apostle and evangelist, during the middle of the 1st century. Due to disputes concerning the nature of Christ, it split from the rest of the Christendom after the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, resulting in a rivalry with the Byzantine Orthodox Church. In the 4–7th centuries the Coptic Church expanded due to the Christianization of the Aksumite empire and of two of the three Nubian kingdoms and Alodia, while the third Nubian kingdom, recognized the Coptic patriarch after being aligned to the Byzantine Orthodox Church.
After AD 639 Egypt was ruled by its Islamic conquerors from Arabia, the treatment of the Coptic Christians ranged from tolerance to open persecution. In the 12th century, the church relocated its seat from Alexandria to Cairo; the same century saw the Copts become a religious minority. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Nubian Christianity was supplanted by Islam. In 1959, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was granted independence; this was extended to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church in 1998 following the successful Eritrean War of Independence from Ethiopia. Since the Arab Spring in 2011, the Copts have been suffering increased religious discrimination and violence; the Egyptian Church is traditionally believed to be founded by St Mark at around AD 42, regards itself as the subject of many prophecies in the Old Testament. Isaiah the prophet, in Chapter 19, Verse 19 says "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, a pillar to the LORD at its border".
The first Christians in Egypt were common people. There were Alexandrian Jewish people such as Theophilus, whom Saint Luke the Evangelist addresses in the introductory chapter of his gospel; when the church was founded by Saint Mark during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, a great multitude of native Egyptians embraced the Christian faith. Christianity spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Saint Mark's arrival in Alexandria, as is clear from the New Testament writings found in Bahnasa, in Middle Egypt, which date around the year AD 200, a fragment of the Gospel of John, written in Coptic, found in Upper Egypt and can be dated to the first half of the 2nd century. In the 2nd century, Christianity began to spread to the rural areas, scriptures were translated into the local languages, namely Coptic; the Coptic language is a universal language used in Coptic churches in every country. It uses Greek letters. Many of the hymns in the liturgy have been passed down for several thousand years.
The language is used to preserve Egypt's original language, banned by the Arab invaders, who ordered Arabic to be used instead. Some examples of these hymns are Coptic: translit. Ep.ouro, lit.'The King',Coptic: Ⲉⲕⲥⲙⲁⲣⲱⲟⲩⲧ, translit. Ek.esmaro'oot, lit.' Blessed', Coptic: Ⲧⲁⲓϣⲟⲩⲣⲏ, translit. Tai.shouri, lit.'This Censer', many more. The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world. St. Jerome records. Around AD 190, under the leadership of the scholar Pantanaeus, the school of Alexandria became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as Athenagoras, Clement and the native Egyptian Origen, considered the father of theology and, active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. Many scholars such as Jerome visited the school of Alexandria to exchange ideas and to communicate directly with its scholars; the scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects. The question-and-answer method of commentary began there, 15 centuries before Braille, wood-carving techniques were in use there by blind scholars to read and write.
The Theological college of the catechetical school was re-established in 1893. The new school has campuses in Ireland, New Jersey, Los Angeles, where Coptic priests-to-be and other qualified men and women are taught among other subjects Christian theology, the Coptic language and art – including chanting, music and tapestry. Many Egyptian Christians went to the desert during the 3rd century, remained there to pray and work and dedicate their lives to seclusion and worship of God; this was the beginning of the monastic movement, organized by Anthony the Great, Saint Paul of Thebes, the world's first anchorite, Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Pachomius the Cenobite in the 4th century. Christian monasticism was born in Egypt and was instrumental in the formation of the Coptic Orthodox Church character of submission and humility, thanks to the teachings and writings of the Great Fathers of Egypt's Deserts. By the end of the 5th century, the
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, or Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, is an Oriental Orthodox Church with autocephalous patriarchate established by Severus of Antioch in Antioch in 518, tracing its founding to Antioch by Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the 1st century, according to its tradition. The Church uses the Divine Liturgy of Saint James, associated with St. James, the "brother" of Jesus and patriarch among the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem. Syriac is the liturgical language of the Church based on Syriac Christianity; the primate of the church is the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Aphrem II since 2014, seated in Cathedral of Saint George, Bab Tuma, Syria. The church claims apostolic succession through the pre-Chalcedonian Patriarchate of Antioch to the Early Christian communities established by Saint Peter in Antioch, Roman Empire, in Apostolic era, as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Saint Evodius was bishop of Antioch until 66 AD, was succeeded by Saint Ignatius of Antioch.
In A. D 169 Theophilus of Antioch wrote sole surviving work consists of three apologetic tracts to Autolycus. Patriarch Babylas of Antioch was considered the first saint recorded as having had his remains moved or "translated" for religious purposes. Eustathius of Antioch supported Athanasius of Alexandria who opposed the followers of the condemned doctrine of Arius at the First Council of Nicaea. During the time of Meletius of Antioch the church split due to his deposition for Homoiousian leanings which resulted in the Meletian Schism, which saw several groups and several claimants to the see of Antioch; the patriarchate was forced to move from Antioch in A. D. 518 due to emperor Justin I, who enforced a uniform Chalcedonian Christian orthodoxy throughout the empire. In circa 518, the Syriac Orthodox Church continued to recognize Patriarch Severus of Antioch as the legitimate patriarch despite his deposition by the Byzantine Empire while those who sought communion with Rome accepted the Council of Chalcedon and the formula of Pope Hormisdas, recognized the new Chalcedonian patriarch of Antioch Paul the Jew.
Patriarch Severus of Antioch was a significant bishop in the organisation of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Byzantine Empire, after he was expelled from Antioch in 518. Bishop Jacob Baradaeus is credited for ordaining the majority of the miaphysite hierarchy while facing heavy persecution in the 6th century. Around 1665, many Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala, affirmed allegiance to the Syriac Orthodox Church, establishing the Malankara Syrian Church reuniting with the See of Antioch for the first time since the schism of the Church of the East from the jurisdiction of Antioch in 484 after the execution of Babowai. In the Fertile Crescent, controversy occurred in 1783 when a few members of its hierarchy entered in full communion with the Catholic Church, establishing the Syriac Catholic Church as part of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Despite this, the Syriac Orthodox Church remains larger in members and clergy than the Syriac Catholic Church. Although established in Antioch, due to persecution, first by the Chalcedonian Romans followed by the Muslim Arabs, the church's patriarchate was subsequently seated in Mor Hananyo Monastery, Ottoman Empire, whereafter Homs, Damascus, since 1959.
A diaspora has spread from the Levant and Turkey throughout the world, notably in Sweden, United Kingdom, Austria, United States, Guatemala, Brazil and New Zealand. The church's members are divided in 26 archdioceses, 11 patriarchal vicariates, its original area is present-day Syria and Iraq. The Syriac Orthodox Church participates in ecumenical discussions, being a member of the World Council of Churches since 1960, of the Middle East Council of Churches since 1974; the precise differences in theology that caused the Chalcedonian controversy is said to have arisen "only because of differences in terminology and culture and in the various formulae adopted by different theological schools to express the same matter", according to a common declaration statement between Patriarch Ignatius Jacob III of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and Pope Paul VI of the Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday 27 October 1971 and again in the common declaration statement between Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and Pope John Paul II of the Roman Catholic Church on Saturday 23 June 1984.
The church is referred to as the Jacobite Church, but it rejects this name due to its Apostolic origin. The Syriac Orthodox Church is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, a distinct communion of churches claiming to continue the patristic and Apostolic Christology before the schism following the Council of Chalcedon in 451; the Syriac Orthodox Church claims the status as the most ancient Christian church in the world by apostolic succession from the Patriarchate of Antioch. According to Saint Luke, "The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch". Saint Peter and Saint Paul are regarded as the co-founders of the Patriarchate of Antioch in AD 37, with Saint Peter serving as its first bishop and considered the first patriarch of and by the Syriac Orthodox Church having been selected by the founder of the church Jesus Christ; when Saint Peter left Antioch and Ignatius presided over the Patriarchate of Antioch. Because of the significance attributed t
History of Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the communion of Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the Council of Ephesus. They reject the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon. Hence, these Churches are called Old Oriental Churches or Non-Chalcedonian Churches; the history of all Oriental Orthodox Churches goes back to the beginnings of Christianity. They were founded by the apostles or by their earliest disciples and their theology did not undergo any significant change in the course of their history; the Oriental Orthodox Churches had a great missionary role during the early stages of Christianity and played a great role in the history of Egypt. According to the canons of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the four bishops of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch were all given status as Patriarchs. Thus, the Bishop of Rome has always been held by the others to be sovereign within his own area, as well as "First-Among-Equals", due to the traditional belief that the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul were martyred in Rome.
The schism between Oriental Orthodoxy and the rest of the Church occurred in the 5th century. The separation resulted in part from the refusal of Pope Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, to accept the Christological dogmas promulgated by the Council of Chalcedon, which held that Jesus has two natures: one divine and one human; this was not because Chalcedon stated that Christ has two natures, but because the council's declaration did not confess the two natures as inseparable and united. Pope Dioscorus would accept only "of or from two natures" but not "in two natures." To the hierarchs who would lead the Oriental Orthodox, this was tantamount to accepting Nestorianism, which expressed itself in a terminology incompatible with their understanding of Christology. Founded in the Alexandrine School of Theology it advocated a formula stressing the unity of the Incarnation over all other considerations; the Oriental Orthodox churches were therefore called Monophysite, although they reject this label, as it is associated with Eutychian Monophysitism.
Oriental Orthodox Churches reject what they consider to be the heretical Monophysite teachings of Eutyches and of Nestorius as well as the Dyophysite definition of the Council of Chalcedon. The reason for the excommunication of the non-Chalcedonian bishops by the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople in 451, that formalized the schism, was the teaching that Jesus Christ has two natures, which the Council of Chalcedon upheld as a dogma. Christology, although important, was not the only reason for the Coptic and Syriac refusal of the Council of Chalcedon. In 482, Byzantine emperor Zeno made an attempt to reconcile christological differences between the supporters and opponents of the Chalcedonian Definition, by issuing imperial decree known as Henotikon, but those efforts were politically motivated and proved to be unsuccessful in reaching the true and substantial reconciliation. In the years following the Henotikon, patriarchs of Constantinople remained in formal communion with the non-Chalcedonian patriarchs of Alexandria, Jerusalem, while Rome remained out of communion with them, in unstable communion with Constantinople.
It was not until 518 that the new Byzantine Emperor, Justin I, demanded that the entire Church in the Roman Empire accept the Council's decisions. Justin ordered the replacement of all non-Chalcedonian bishops, including the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria. During the reign of emperor Justinian I, new attempts were made towards reconciliation. One of the most prominent Oriental Orthodox theologians of that era was Severus of Antioch. In spite of several, imperially sponsored meetings between heads of Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox communities, no final agreement was reached; the split proved to be final, by that time parallel ecclesiastical structures were formed throughout the Middle East. Most prominent Oriental Orthodox leader in the middle of the 6th century was Jacob Baradaeus, seen as the leader of the community, known from that time as "Jacobite" Christians. During the 6th and 7th, frequent wars between the Byzantine Empire an the Sasanian Empire, fought throughout the Middle East affected all Christians in the region, including Oriental Orthodox, specially in Armenia, Byzantine Syria and Byzantine Egypt.
Temporary Persian conquest of all those regions during the great Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602-628 resulted in further estrangement between Oriental Orthodox communities of the region and the Byzantine imperial government in Constantinople. Those relations did not improve after the Byzantine reconquest, in spite of the efforts of emperor Heraclius, who tried to strengthen political control of the region by achieving religious reunification of divided Christian communities. In order to reach a christological compromise between Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox, he supported monoenergism and monothelitism, but without much cusses. Following the Muslim conquest of the Middle East in the 7th century, process of gradual Islamization was initiated, affecting all Christians in the region, including Oriental Orthodox; the indigenous Ori
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the national church of the Armenian people. Part of Oriental Orthodoxy, it is one of the most ancient Christian communities; the Kingdom of Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion under the rule of King Tiridates in the early 4th century. The church originated in the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus in the 1st century, according to tradition, it is sometimes referred to as the Armenian Orthodox Gregorian Church. The latter is not preferred by the church itself, as it views the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus as its founders, St. Gregory the Illuminator as the first official governor of the church, it is simply known as the Armenian Church. The Armenian Church believes in apostolic succession through the apostles Thaddeus. According to legend, the latter of the two apostles is said to have cured Abgar V of Edessa of leprosy with the Image of Edessa, leading to his conversion in 30 AD. Thaddaeus was commissioned by Abgar to proselytize throughout Armenia, where he converted the king Sanatruk's daughter, martyred alongside Thaddeus when Sanatruk fell into apostasy.
After this, Bartholomew came to Armenia, bringing a portrait of the Virgin Mary, which he placed in a nunnery he founded over a former temple of Anahit. Bartholomew converted the sister of Sanatruk, who once again martyred a female relative and the apostle who converted her. Both apostles ordained native bishops before their execution, some other Armenians had been ordained outside of Armenia by James the Just. Scholars including Bart Ehrman, Han Drijvers, W. Bauer dismiss the conversion of Abgar V as fiction. According to Eusebius and Tertullian, Armenian Christians were persecuted by kings Axidares, Khosrov I, Tiridates III, the last of whom was converted to Christianity by Gregory the Illuminator. Ancient Armenia's adoption of Christianity as a state religion has been referred to by Nina Garsoïan as "probably the most crucial step in its history." This conversion distinguished it from its Iranian and Mazdean roots and protected it from further Parthian influence. According to Mary Boyce, the acceptance of Christianity by the Arsacid-Armenian rulers was in defiance of the Sassanids.
When King Tiridates III made Christianity the state religion of Armenia between 301 and 314, it was not an new religion there. It had penetrated the country from at least the third century, may have been present earlier. Tiridates declared Gregory to be the first Catholicos of the Armenian Church and sent him to Caesarea to be consecrated. Upon his return, Gregory tore down shrines to idols, built churches and monasteries, ordained many priests and bishops. While meditating in the old capital city of Vagharshapat, Gregory had a vision of Christ descending to the earth and striking it with a hammer. From that spot arose a great Christian temple with a huge cross, he was convinced. With the king's help he did so in accordance with his vision, renaming the city Etchmiadzin, which means "the place of the descent of the Only-Begotten"; the Armenian Church participated in the larger Christian world and its Catholicos was represented at the First Council of Nicea. In 353, King Papas appointed Catholicos Husik without first sending him to Caesarea for commissioning before Rome had any plans for a universal Roman church.
Its Catholicos was still represented at the First Council of Constantinople. Christianity was strengthened in Armenia in the 5th century by the translation of the Bible into the Armenian language by the native theologian and scholar, Saint Mesrop Mashtots. Before the 5th century, Armenians had a spoken language. Thus, the Bible and Liturgy were written in Syriac rather than Armenian; the Catholicos Sahak commissioned Mesrop to create the Armenian alphabet, which he completed in 406. Subsequently, the Bible and Liturgy were written in the new script; the translation of the Bible, along with works of history and philosophy, caused a flowering of Armenian literature and a broader cultural renaissance. Although unable to attend the Council of Ephesus, Catholicos Isaac Parthiev sent a message agreeing with its decisions. However, non doctrinal elements in the Council of Chalcedon caused certain problems to arise. At the First Council of Dvin in 506 the synod of the Armenian and Caucasian Albanian bishops were assembled during the reign of Catholicos Babken I.
The participation of the Catholicoi of Georgia and Albania were set to make clear the position of the churches concerning the Council of Chalcedon. The "Book of Epistles" mentions that 20 bishops, 14 laymen, many nakharars participated in the council; the involvement in the council discussion of different level of lay persons seemed to be a general rule in Armenia. A century the 3rd Council of Dvin was convened during the reign of Catholicos Abraham I of Aghbatank and Prince Smbat Bagratuni, with clergymen and laymen participating; the Georgian Church disagreed with the Armenian Church, having approved the christology of Chalcedon. This council was convened to clarify the relationship between the Georgian churches. After the Council, Catholicos Abraham wrote an encyclical letter addressed to the people, blaming Kurion and his adherents for the schism; the Council never set up canons. Despite this, the Albanian Church remained under the jurisdiction of the Armenian Church while in co
Pammakaristos Church known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, is one of the most famous Greek Orthodox Byzantine churches in Istanbul, Turkey. Adapted in 1591 into the Fethiye Mosque, it is today a museum, the parekklesion; the edifice serves as one of the most important examples of Constantinople's Palaiologan architecture, the last pre-Ottoman building to house the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It has the largest amount of Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul after the Hagia Sophia and Chora Church; the building is located in the Çarşamba neighbourhood within the district of Fatih inside the walled city of Istanbul. Theotokos Pammakaristos overlooks the Golden Horn. According to most scholars, the church was built between the twelfth centuries. Many historians and archaeologists believe that the original structure of the church can be attributed to Michael VII Ducas, others put its foundation in the Comnenian period, it has been suggested by the Swiss scholar and Byzantinist Ernest Mamboury that the original building was erected in the 8th century.
A parekklesion was added to the south side of the church in the early Palaiologan period, dedicated to Christos ho Logos. The small shrine was erected by Martha Glabas in memory of her late husband, the protostrator Michael Doukas Glabas Tarchaneiotes, a general of Andronikos II Palaiologos, shortly after the year 1310. An elegant dedicatory inscription to Christ, written by the poet Manuel Philes, runs along the parekklesion, both outside and inside it; the main church was renovated at the same time, as the study of the Templon has shown. Following the fall of Constantinople, the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate was first moved to the Church of the Holy Apostles, in 1456 to the Pammakaristos Church, which remained as the seat of the Patriarchate until 1587. Five years the Ottoman Sultan Murad III converted the church into a mosque and renamed it in honor of his Fetih of Georgia and Azerbaijan, hence the name Fethiye Camii. To accommodate the requirements of prayer, most of the interior walls were removed in order to create a larger inner space.
The complex, neglected, has been restored in 1949 by the Byzantine Institute of America and Dumbarton Oaks, which brought it back to its pristine splendor. While the main building remains a mosque, the parekklesion has since been a museum; the Comnenian building was a church with a main aisle and two deambulatoria, had three apses, a narthex to the west. The masonry was typical of the Comnenian period, adopted the technique of the recessed brick. In this technique, alternate courses of brick are mounted behind the line of the wall, are plunged in a mortar's bed, which can still be seen in the cistern underneath and in the church; the transformation of the church into a mosque changed the original building greatly. The arcades connecting the main aisle with the deambulatoria were removed and were replaced with broad archways to open up the nave; the three apses were removed too. In their place toward the east a great domed room was built, obliquely with respect to the orientation of the building.
On the other side, the parekklesion represents the most beautiful building of the late Byzantine period in Constantinople. It has the typical cross-in-square plan with five domes, but the proportion between vertical and horizontal dimensions is much bigger than usual. Although the inner colored marble revetment disappeared, the shrine still contains the restored remains of a number of mosaic panels, while not as varied and well-preserved as those of the Chora Church, serve as another resource for understanding late Byzantine art. A representation of the Pantocrator, surrounded by the prophets of the Old Testament is under the main dome. On the apse, Christ Hyperagathos is shown with St. John the Baptist; the Baptism of Christ survives intact to the right side of the dome. In the building with the Fethiye Museum a part is still a mosque. Here are some pictures of its interior History of Roman and Byzantine domes Mamboury, Ernest. Byzance - Constantinople - Istanbul. Istanbul: Milli Neşriyat Yurdu.
Mathews, Thomas F.. The Byzantine Churches of Istanbul: A Photographic Survey. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-01210-2. Belting, Hans. Mosaics and Frescoes of St Mary Pammakaristos. Dumbarton Oaks Pub Service. ISBN 0-88402-075-4. Harris, Jonathan. Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium. Hambledon/Continuum. ISBN 978-1-84725-179-4. Byzantium 1200 | Pammakaristos Monastery 130 pictures of the church Some more pictures of the mosque History and Mosaics of the Pammakaristos
Timkat is the Orthodox Tewahedo celebration of Epiphany. It is celebrated on January corresponding to the 10th day of Terr in the Ethiopian calendar. Timkat celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River; this festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism. During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, present on every Ethiopian altar, is reverently wrapped in rich cloth and borne in procession on the head of the priest; the Tabot, otherwise seen by the laity, represents the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated near pool early in the morning; the nearby body of water is blessed towards dawn and sprinkled on the participants, some of whom enter the water and immerse themselves, symbolically renewing their baptismal vows. But the festival does not end there; the clergy, bearing umbrellas of many hues, perform rollicking dances and songs. Dressed up in their finest, the women chatter excitedly on their one real day of freedom in the year.
The young braves leap down in spirited dances, tirelessly repeating rhythmic songs. When the holy ark has been safely restored to its dwelling-place, everyone goes home for feasting. "Timket". 13 October 2004. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 2014-10-04. "Ethiopian Rift Valley Safaris - Timket - Epiphany in Ethiopia". Ethiopianriftvalleysafaris.com. Archived from the original on 2014-09-29. Retrieved 2014-10-04. "meskelsquare.com". Meskelsquare.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2014-10-04. Timkat Celebration in Lalibela
Abgar V, called Ukamma, was the King of Osroene with his capital at Edessa. Abgar was described as "king of the Arabs" by a near-contemporary source. According to Movses Khorenatsi, Abgar was an Armenian, yet both Robert W. Thomson and Richard G. Hovannisian state Abgar's Armenian ethnicity was invented by Khorenatsi. Most modern academics present the Abgarid dynasty as an Arab dynasty. Lucas Van Rompay, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, states that, "as far as the ethnic descent of the Abgarid kings is concerned, we cannot ascertain whether they were Arabs, Parthian, or Armenian". Abgar's nephew, King Sanatruk of Armenia, is chronicled extensively in Armenian writings. Abgar V came to power in 4 BC, he lost his throne in 7 AD and regained it five years later. Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, or Moses of Chorene, reported that the chief wife of King Abgar V was Queen Helena of Adiabene, the wife of King Monobaz I of Adiabene, thus the kingdoms of Edessa and Adiabene were linked in some manner.
Robert Eisenman suggests Queen Helena as one of the wives of King Abgar V, who allotted her the lands of Adiabene. Professor Eisenman derived this association from Movses Khorenatsi mentioning the same famine relief to Judaea as does Flavius Josephus: As to the first of Abgar’s wives, named Helena... She went away to Jerusalem during the famine which Agabus had predicted. Helena’s tomb, a remarkable one, is still to be seen before the gate of Jerusalem. Professor Eisenman goes on to equate King Abgarus V with the Agabus in Acts of the Apostles, because Agabus was identified with the same famine relief as Queen Helena. By necessity Eisenman equates the biblical Antioch Orontes with Antioch Edessa, indicating that Paul the Apostle and Barnabas went to Edessa. On August 24, 2009, the board of the Central Bank of Armenia adopted a decision on introducing a new banknote with a nominal value of AMD 100,000; the new banknote depicts King Abgar V, described as King of Armenian Mesopotamia. The front of the banknote depicts Abgar pointing at the royal flag bearing an image of the Mandylion.
The reverse of the banknote depicts disciple Thaddeus of Edessa handing the canvas to King Abgar V and his consequent miraculous healing. Abgar V is claimed to be one of the first Christian kings in history, having been converted to the faith by Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the seventy disciples; the church historian Eusebius records that the Edessan archives contained a copy of a correspondence exchanged between Abgar of Edessa and Jesus. The correspondence consisted of the answer dictated by Jesus. On August 15, 944, the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae in Constantinople received the letter and the Mandylion. Both relics were moved to the Church of the Virgin of the Pharos; the account of this enjoyed great popularity in the East, in the West, during the Middle Ages: Jesus' letter was copied on parchment, inscribed in marble and metal, used as a talisman or an amulet. Of this correspondence, there survive not only a Syriac text, but an Armenian translation as well, two independent Greek versions, shorter than the Syriac, several inscriptions on stone.
A curious growth has arisen from this event, with scholars disputing whether Abgar suffered from gout or from leprosy, whether the correspondence was on parchment or papyrus, so forth. The text of the letter was: Abgar, ruler of Edessa, to Jesus the good physician who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem, greeting. I have of your cures as performed by you without medicines or herbs. For it is said that you make the blind to see and the lame to walk, that you cleanse lepers and cast out impure spirits and demons, that you heal those afflicted with lingering disease, raise the dead, and having heard all these things concerning you, I have concluded that one of two things must be true: either you are God, having come down from heaven you do these things, or else you, who does these things, are the son of God. I have therefore written to you to ask you if you would take the trouble to come to me and heal all the ill which I suffer. For I are plotting to injure you, but I have a small yet noble city, great enough for us both.
Jesus gave the messenger the reply to return to Abgar: Blessed are you who hast believed in me without having seen me. For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me will not believe in me, that they who have not seen me will believe and be saved, but in regard to what you have written me, that I should come to you, it is necessary for me to fulfill all things here for which I have been sent, after I have fulfilled them thus to be taken up again to him that sent me. But after I have been taken up I will send to you one of my disciples, that he may heal your disease and give life to you and yours. Egeria wrote of the letter in her account of her pilgrimage in Edessa, she read the letter during her stay, remarked that the copy in Edessa was fuller than the copies in her home. In addition to the importance it attained in the apocryphal cycle, the correspondence of King Abgar gained a place in liturgy for some time; the Syriac liturgies commemorate the correspondence of Abgar during Lent.
The Celtic liturgy appears to have attached importance to it. It is possible t