WEST AZERBAIJAN, Iran—Iran has allotted some $427,000 to the restoration of UNESCO-designated churches that are located in northwest of the country. “A sum of 14 billion rials (roughly $427,000 USD) will be channeled into restoration plans for the UNESCO-inscribed churches in Iran,” Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization Deputy Director Mohammad-Hassan Talebian told Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, on Aug. 6.
“The identity of historical churches [in the country] must be preserved, and the cultural heritage organization makes efforts to promote them by the means of organizing religious ceremonies and conducting conservation projects,” Talebian added.
He made the remarks during a visit to Saint Thaddeus Monastery, an ancient Armenian monastery that played host to a religious gathering by the Christians in a mountainous landscape of West Azerbaijan province, adjacent to the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
The organization also plans to document a total of 450 Armenian churches and 150 Assyrian ones, the Iranian Labor News Agency quoted Talebian as saying on Aug. 5.
According to Armenian Apostolic Church tradition, St. Thaddeus evangelized the region of Armenia and Persia. Thaddeus was martyred in Armenia and is celebrated as an apostle of the Armenian Church. According to Armenian tradition, a church dedicated to him was first built on the present site in 68 A.D.
The Monastery was rebuilt after an earthquake damaged it in 1319. Some of the parts surrounding the altar apse date from the 10th century. Much of the Monastery’s present structure dates from 1811. The western extension duplicates the design of Etchmiadzin Cathedral.
In July 2008, the St. Thaddeus Monastery was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, along with two other Armenian monuments in the same province—the Monastery of Saint Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor.