Albanian-Udi Christian community issues statement on Albanian shrines in liberated Azerbaijani lands

The Udi Albanian Christian community in Azerbaijan made a statement on Albanian churches in the territories liberated from occupation.

News.Az presents the statement:

“We, the Albanian-Udi Christian Community of Azerbaijan, which succeeded the Albanian Apostolic Church, highly appreciate and support the subsequent actions aimed at preserving and restoring historical and religious monuments, including Christian heritage shrines Albanians, in the territories liberated from occupation during the past year and express our confidence that this process will be finalized as soon as possible thanks to the will and perseverance of the Azerbaijani government.

At the same time, we would like to state that all required work has been done for the visitation of members of the Albanian-Udi religious community to Albanian historical shrines in the territories liberated from occupation despite serious mine threats and very bad road condition. As a result, we Udis managed to visit Aghoghlan monastery in Lachin district and Khudavang monastery in Kalbajar district, as well as Albanian shrines in Hadrut settlement and Tugh village, in as moral successors of the Albanian Apostolic Church on several occasions over the past year.

We would like to note that the history of the structuring of Christianity as an official religion in the Caucasus begins with the Albanian Church. Ancient sources prove that the Albanian Church, which left indelible traces in the religious and cultural life not only of Azerbaijan, but also of the whole Caucasus, is one of the oldest churches in the world and has an origin apostolic. The antiquity of the Albanian Church is proven not only by historical facts, but also by the ancient Albanian shrines which have survived to the present day.

Unfortunately, following different pressures and influences, the Albanian Apostolic Church was abolished in 1836, while the Armenian Gregorian Church tried to possess part of its material and moral heritage. As a result, a large part of the Albanian historical shrines in Azerbaijan, especially in Karabakh, were made Gregorian, and the archives and documents were also falsified with our historical monuments. Bringing Albanian heritage, including Albanian shrines, which are hundreds or even thousands of years old, into the Gregorian Church has been a government policy of Armenia for the past hundred years. As a result, not a single Albanian shrine has been preserved in the contemporary territory of Armenia and the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. Armenia either changed the architecture of the Albanian shrines to make them Gregorian, or devastated the shrines whose architecture could not be changed.

After Azerbaijan restored its independence and freedom of conscience was fully guaranteed, a historic opportunity arose to restore the status of the Albanian Apostolic Church and eliminate the injustice we faced. The Albanian-Oudi Christian community was formed and officially registered in 2003 on the initiative of Udis intellectuals. The registration of the religious community is the first step towards the revival of the Albanian Autocephalous Apostolic Church. The Apostol Elisha Church, considered “the mother of churches” in the Caucasus, in the village of Kish in the Shaki district, was renovated with the support of the Azerbaijani government and the Albanian-Udi church called Chotari in the Nij settlement, where Udis are densely populated in Gabala district, was officially opened in 2006.

Naturally, the revival of the Albanian-Udi Christian community and the elimination of historical injustice with the restoration of Albanian monuments are important not only for Azerbaijan, but also for the whole Christian world in terms of preserving the environment of tolerance in our country. . We, the Udis, who are the moral successors of the Albanian Apostolic Church, believe that other Albanian shrines in our territories liberated from occupation will also be restored to a high standard, such as the Albanian shrines in the districts of Qabala and ‘Oguz.

At the same time, the tolerance of the Azerbaijani people and the attention and support of the Azerbaijani government to representatives of all religions give us reason to say that those who belong to the Armenian Gregorian Church will also be treated humanely. A striking example of this esteem is the Armenian Church of Sacred Gregory in the center of Baku, which the Azerbaijani government has preserved and restored. Despite the fact that the Armenian Gregorian Church exerted influence and pressure and dealt a heavy blow to the Albanian heritage through means of appropriation and falsification over the centuries, we would like to say that we are ready to cooperate with the Armenian Gregorian Church and co – existence in the territories liberated from occupation in the name of peace and humanity”.


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