The illuminators, St. Thaddaeus and St. Bartholomew, are believed to be the founders of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who carried out their missions in Armenia many years ago.
[caption id="attachment_2334" align="alignleft" width="300"] Armenia became the first nation to accept Christianity as a state religion[/caption]
According to the Armenian Church, after the Ascension of Christ one of His followers, Thaddaeus arrived in Great Armenia to share the gospel. One of the local Armenians who followed the Christian faith was Sandukht, the daughter of Sanatruk the Armenian Tsar.
Thaddeus, Sandukht, and several other Christians were put to death by the Tsar's orders, as he did not approve of the Christian faith. Shortly after that, Bartholomew made his way to Armenia, after having preached in Persia. Through Bartholomew's preaching, Sanatruk's other daughter, Vogui converted to Christianity, along with many other nobles in the community. Bartholomew's life ended as a martyr in Arbanos between Van Lake and Urmia Lake.
[caption id="attachment_2333" align="alignright" width="300"] Etchmiadzin Cathedral is a religious center in Armenia[/caption]
In those days, Christianity was a popular religion in other countries, like Georgia and it was Armenia's relations with such countries via commerce, politics, and trade which created favorable opportunities to spread Christianity in Armenia. Up until the third century, Little Armenia was politically a part of the Roman province, Cappadocia and it was expected that Christianity would spread from Little Armenia to Great Armenia.
Armenia was the first nation ever to accept Christianity as a state religion, even before Byzantium and Georgia in 30 A.D. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral was built near Yerevan in 303 A.D. and remains a religious center for Armenians today. The Bible was later translated into Armenian in the fifth century as more Armenians adopted the Christian faith.