Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 25 February |
Saint of the Day: St. Toribio Romo González
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Where are the oldest churches in Asia?

SAINT SARKIS MONASTERY

Effi Schweizer | Wikipedia Public Domain

John Burger - published on 04/05/19

Some structures reach back to the earliest days of Christianity.

American Catholics can rightly be proud of some of the oldest churches still in use. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for example, was built in 1540.

But how about a church dating from AD 241? That is when it’s thought the house church of Dura-Europas was built, and some of its walls are still standing.

Dura-Europas, in present-day Syria, is the earliest identified Christian house church. Was it Catholic? Was it Orthodox? It was built before there was any significant division in the Church of Christ.

But if you can visit Dura-Europas, don’t expect to see any liturgies being conducted. It has long been in ruins. It was excavated in the 1920s and 1930s by French and American teams, and some of the artifacts found there, including a wall painting that may very well be the oldest existing image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, can be viewed at the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.

At the Syrian site itself one can see some of the walls of the original church.

It makes sense that Asia should have churches as old as this, as the Holy Land is located in the western end of the continent.

Here then are the oldest church buildings in Asia, found in modern-day Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Armenia.

Tags:
Church History
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
500 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY
J-P Mauro
A song to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines
2
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Padre Pio says this is a sin that’s difficult to forgive &#...
3
TEMPTATION OF CHRIST,WILDERNESS,DESERT
Philip Kosloski
Why does Lent last 40 days?
4
CHURCH
Philip Kosloski
10 Things you should know about the Catholic Mass
5
Jim McIngvale
Cerith Gardiner
Mattress Mack steps up again to help those suffering freezing wea...
6
FATIMA
Philip Kosloski
Rarely seen photos of Fatima visionaries, Lucia, Jacinta and Fran...
7
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.