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The '''Church of Arran''' (
azerb. 'Land of Warriors', Ar/Ər - 'warrior/man', An - 'land') is an oldest church in the world. It was first established by the Holy [[Apostle Bartholomew]] in Baku, and then by St. [[Elisha of Arran|Elisha]] in the village of Kish, north of Azerbaijan. It was amalgamated with the [[Church of Armenia|Armenian Orthodox Church]] in 1836, when the tsar Nicolas I of Russia signed " the Decree on managing the affairs of the Armenian-Gregorian Church in Russia" ("Положение о управлении делами Армяно-Григорианской церкви в России"). The Church of Arran was re-established in Azerbaijan in 2003 as the Church of Caucasian Albania-Udi. In 2013 during 1700-th anniversary of establishing christianity in Azerbaijan, the grand opening of the Church of Arran took place in the village of Nij.
The kingdom of Arran, better known in English as 'Caucasian Albania' (Latin - Albānia, Greek - Αλβανεια), is said to have been first evangelized by the Holy [[Apostle Bartholomew]] and a [[disciple]] of St. [[Apostle Jude|Thaddeus]], St. [[Elisha of Arran|Elisha]], who is called the 'Apostle of Arran.' The nation as a whole did not convert until shortly after the conversion of neighboring Armenia, with the Arsacid King [[Urnayr]] being [[baptism|baptized]] by St. [[Gregory the Enlightener|Gregory the Illuminator]] in 313.
In 330, a grandson of St. Gregory, St. Grigoris, became the first [[bishop]] and [[Catholicos]] of Arran, which included much of modern day Azerbaijan,
south Dagestan and east Armenia. St. Grigoris was [[martyr]]ed in 338 while preaching in Dagestan, but his [[relics]] were rescued by his disciples and kept at the Amaras Monastery in west Azerbaijan. In the following years the position of the Catholicate strengthened, being established at the Arranian capital Qabala.
Arran suffered a similar fate to neighboring Armenia, rising with it against the Sassanian Empire in the 400s and being crushed by its shahs as a result. In the
400's St. [[Mesrob Mashtots]] most likely systematised an already existing Arranian alphabet so that the [[Holy Scripture|Bible]], divine services, and writings of the Fathers could be translated. St. [[Mesrob Mashtots]] did not know Arranian, so he could not have developed a new alphabet as it might appeared in some Armenian sources. In 552 the seat of the Catholicoses of Arran was transferred to Barda, remaining there until the 800s.
600s Arran regained its independence under King Javanshir, but then fell to the Arab [[Muslim]]s not long after their conquest of the Sassanian Empire. Beginning in the 700s the Arab rulers began forcibly converting sections of the population to [[Islam]]. Under influence of the Armenian Catholicos, the Caliphate forced the Arranian Catholicos to accept the supremacy of the catholicoses of Echmiadzin. During this period, much of the Arranian Holy books and scriptures were exterminated by the Church of Armenia to subdue the Church of Arran.
During the catholicate of Catholicos Nerses I overtures were made to the East Roman Empire regarding the acceptance of the [[Fourth Ecumenical Council|Council of Chalcedon]] by the Church of Arran, but this was met with outrage by the hierarchy and nobility of the country, who appealed to Catholicos Sion I (Bavonatsi) of All the Armenians for help. In response Catholicos Sion convened a council in Partav that rejected Nerses' Christology, confirmed the Church's adherence to the Christological teachings of St. [[Cyril of Alexandria]], and enacted [[canon]]s concerning [[marriage]].
Although the Council of Barda upheld the Christology of the Church
it at the same time seriously weakened its [[autocephaly]], especially as the Armenians enjoyed greater favor with the caliphs as a consequence of the council. (The Caliphate had feared that Arran would become an ally of the East Roman Empire if it accepted Chalcedon.) At the Barda Council it was decreed that thereafter the Catholicos of Arran would be [[enthronement|enthroned]] by the Catholicos of All the Armenians. In the aftermath of the Council, the remnants of the Arranian christian population gradually absorbed, those converted to Islam eventually merged with their ethnic brothers - the larger muslim Azeri population, and those who remained faithful to Orthodoxy eventually joined the Armenian and Georgian Churches. The recent DNA analysis of the Armenians in Qarabag (Arsak), and eastern part of The Republic of Armenia confirms that theory. Their DNA showed closer ties with the neighbouring Azerbaijani population than the Armenians living across Middle East.