Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator

Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator inside

Know More About The Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator

The oldest Christian church in Singapore is the Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, often known as the Armenian Church. It situates on Hill Street in the Central Area’s Museum Planning Area. The church was finished in 1835 and blessed the following year. The last Armenian parish priest left in the late 1930s as the Armenian community in Singapore decreased. The Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator  is an Oriental Orthodox denomination. In 1973, it received national monument status. The church now routinely hosts services for both Armenian and Oriental Orthodox believers.

Background and early history

The  Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator  church’s east front features a bent apse with a pediment holding. The year “1835”, inscribe is recognised as the year church’s foundation was built.

The first twelve Armenian families to settle in Singapore gave the church it is blessing. It created by George Drumgoole Coleman served as Singapore’s first Superintendent of Public Works and was responsible for many of the city’s earliest structures. The first Patriarch of the Armenian Church, St. Gregory the Illuminator, is honoured at the church. After Sir Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a trading port in 1819, the Armenians were among the first merchants and traders to arrive there. By 1821, the community in Singapore already held religious services and the first priest.

The Armenian Community’s Proper Church

The foundation stone blessed on January 1st, 1835 Supreme Archimandrite Reverend Thomas Gregorian. On Easter Sunday of 1836, he also helped Reverend Catchick Johannes, the priest in charge of the neighbourhood’s Armenian community, open the new church. The first Patriarch of Armenia, the first country in history to make Christianity its official religion, Saint Gregory the Illuminator, was honoured with a church that bore his name.

Architecture and interior design

George D. Coleman, an Irish architect who served as Singapore’s first Government Superintendent of Public Works and town planner, created the Armenian Church. It resembled the Mother Church of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the northern Armenian city of Etchmiadzin. The Armenian Church in Singapore designed like a cross and four triangular pediments at each of its Doric columns. When people arrived at the church in their horse-drawn carriages, three churches as porte-cochere, or carriage porches, to cover worshippers and guests. Later, when the Porte-cochere were made accessible to pedestrians’ steps added to porticos.

Near the Church

Alongside the church is the parsonage, a two-story colonial-style home. The priest assigned by the Armenian Archbishop of Persia to serve the local Armenian community lived there. Due to the declining number of Armenians in Singapore, the last resident priest of the Armenian Church left the country in the 1930s, and no replacement priest ever sent. The current resident of the former parsonage is the trustee for the Armenian Church.

In the Garden of Memories, located across from the parsonage, are the tombstones of notable Armenians, notably Agnes Joaquim, who are witnesses to the Armenian presence in Singapore. These grave markers found in the Bukit Timah and Fort Canning Hill excavated cemeteries. Divine Liturgy was celebrated there in 2001 to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as its official religion.

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