Tradition would have it that the first announcing of the Gospel was in
Armenia, the first reign in history to have officially received
Christianity, from the apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew but the
conversion of the Armenian court is owed to the apostolate Saint
Gregory the Illuminator who in 301 baptized King Tiridates III and his
court, and since then, Christianity was proclaimed the official
religion of the kingdom. This choice and the geographic position of the
frontier of Armenia were the cause of much persecution and many wars.
Armenia was invaded by the Persians the same year of the Council of
Chalcedon (451) and this impeded its Bishops, busy defending
Christianity against the doctrine of followers of Zoroaster (Mazdeism),
from participating in the council and its decisions. For this reason,
the Armenian Church is counted among the ancient Eastern churches, that
is, those hurches who in that age did not accept the Council of
Chalcedon. The Armenian Church accepted however the first three
ecumenical councils: Nicaea in 325, Constantinople in 381, and Ephesus
in 431), ignoring the fourth.
The Armenian liturgy, in the initial phase was inspired by that of Caesarea, which at that time derived from that of Antioch.
The current liturgy used dates back to the end of the 5th century, with some subsequent additions. Today the Armenian rite constitutes one of the five principle rites of the ancient Eastern churches. Armenian Christians celebrate the Eucharist with unleavened bread and non-tempered wine, and this use, at least as to the wine, has more than once irritated the susceptibility of Rome and Constantinople. In fact, an open condemnation was reached in the council called "in trullo" of 692. Subsequently one can see in this use a liturgical canonization of the refusal on behalf of the Armenian Church of the Council of Chalcedon, which define the two natures, human and divine of Christ. The wine is a sign of the divine nature and the water of the human nature, therefore, to omit the infusion of water signifies not expressing liturgically the faith in the perfect humanity of Christ. But in the facts, things were much less complicated. Simply the Armenians, differently from other people groups, consumed non-tempered wine also during meals. The Armenian Church does not have the iconostasis; in its place there is a large curtain that is closed at certain moments of the celebration.