Top 10 Oldest Churches in the World

Unlock the secrets: Explore Top 10 Oldest Churches in the World at Top 10 Question! A comprehensive overview of church its brief history and purposes.

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Here is the etymology of church and its purposes. This article is also about oldest church in USA, about those oldest churches in America, churches in this world and oldest church in the England. 

Etymology of Church

The word “church” had an enthralling etymology and it had rich history in diverse languages. In English the word “church” is devised and originated from the Old English word “cirice” or “circe,” which can be traced back or sketched out  to the Germanic language. It is supposed that it is initiated from the Greek expression “kuriakon,” which means “belonging to the Lord” and the word comes from another word “kurios,” that means“Lord” or “master.”

Etymology of Church

The name or the expression of ‘church’ also used in a broader idea in order to refer to the different Christian values and rituals or we can say denominations. It also tolerates a symbol of faith and beliefs of people in different communities.

Purposes of a Church

For Christians the prior purpose of church is worshipping of people under a single building. It has profound purpose in its roots. If we understand the importance of church, it connects people (as mention before) under same building, and also leads people towards their god.

There are basically two purposes of church:

  • The traditional purpose of church.
  • The biblical purpose of church.

The Traditional Purpose of the Church

The church has a significant establishment and association in the human history. It leaves deep impact on enormous cultures and societies for centuries. Its origin could be traced back from the time period of Jesus Christ, who inaugurated his first church along his devotees and followers. With the passage of time, it was grown into or transformed into an authoritative and potent force, which guides people towards the way of sanctity.

The premier and prior purpose of the church is to examine the teachings and instructions of Jesus Christ by building a spiritual community for Christ’s disciples. It is a kind of residence, we say, where individuals collect in order to worship and pray together. The other purpose of church is to give justice to poor people of the society.

The Biblical Purpose of the Church

In order to understand the significance of a church, it is crucial and important to examine its biblical roots. It’s not true that a church is only build for merely a socialization or collect people who have similar philosophies and beliefs, but it has special purpose.

However, the fundamental and essential principle of the church, according to the Bible, is to lionize and idolize God. Its other important aim is to nourish and nurture the faith of a believer and this is achieved with the help of teachings, fellowship, and the sharing of spiritual gifts.

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Oldest Church in England

St Martin’s Church Canterbury This beautiful church has been standing since the year 597 AD, and is well worth a visit if you’re interested in learning more about England’s religious past. It’s a ten minute walk from other popular tourist destinations in Canterbury, making it easy to fit into your sightseeing itinerary.

Oldest Catholic Church in England

The History of St Martin’s Church

A 10 minute walk from Canterbury Cathedral is the Church of St Martin, the oldest church in the entire English speaking world. The story of the church’s origins is quite a romantic one. In 580 AD, Bertha, a Christian princess from Tours in France married Ethelbert of Kent who was a pagan Anglo-Saxon. She married Ethelbert on the condition she could continue to practice her own religion and had a place of worship. This led Ethelbert to build St Martin’s for Queen Bertha as a private chapel for worship. Ethelbert later became king of Kent and eventually converted to Christianity himself. St Martin’s Church has been altered and extended in the 6th, 7th and 14th centuries but the southern wall retains its Roman fabric. The church has been meticulously preserved and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in England. The first church in England was built in the year 597 AD by Augustine of Canterbury.

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Oldest Catholic Church in USA

USA (United States of America) is the country where reliogon spreads in its roots. If we focus on the history of USA there are a magnificent Catholic denotion in the country. The counting beneath illustrates the five Churches which are considered as the oldest churches in America. Although these churches are destroyed by either war or other natural disaster but they still counted in the oldest Catholic churches of USA.

The list of oldest catholic churches in USA is:

  1. San Minguel Chapal In Santa Fe
  2. St. Francis Xavier Church
  3. Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio.
  4. Mission San Diego de Alcala in San Diego.
  5. St. Gabriel Catholic Church in St. Gabriel

San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe

It is the oldest Church of the United States which is located in the city of New Mexico. It is built in the year 1610 under the guidance of Franciscans by the Tlaxcalan Indians. It was partly demolished in the mid-1640s and restored in 1872. Its present building is assembled in 1710 and has endured lot of organizational changes to certify its legacy.

San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe

The latest refurbishment or the latest renovation of its building is based as the chapel back to its original manner and now the whole chapel is made entirely from adobe. The chapel’s interior epitomizes and embodies the Franciscan mission design. Massive wooden beams line the ceiling to uphold the church structure itself. Furthermore, the paintings of St. Teresa of Avila, St. Gertrude, St. Francis of Assisi, and the statue of St. Louis IX and Saint Michael glorifies the beauty of the church. It is still an active Mission with two Sunday Masses in the extraordinary and ordinary form.

St. Francis Xavier Church

The other oldest Catholic Church is St. Xavier Church which is located in Leonardtown. The brief history of this church is that in the year 1640, the Jesuits were welcomed to begin their proselytizer work in Newtown of Maryland. After getting permission from an Indian King they started their apostolate and developed a self-sustaining mission.

St. Francis Xavier Church

The original church which was erected in 1662 located at the place where the St. Xavier Catholic Graveyard is today. During the late 1600’s and early 1700’s Catholics were tyrannized badly and as a result the efforts of Jesuits missionary efforts all were driven underground. The Jesuits had constructed a new chapal in 1731 and the exterior of the building to give no sign that it was for religious intent. This is the present church we seen today. Inside the church there is an 18th century reredos with a large portrait of St. Francis Xavier, the churches patron.

Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio

This church is known as ‘the Heart of San Antonio’. This church was built in 1738 and is supposed the oldest standing church in the state of Texas. King Phillip V (King of Spain) summoned fifteen families from the Canary Islands in order to found the church and this church was named as Church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria y Guadalupe.

Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio

However, when it was fully constructed it was formally named after the 13th-century Spanish king, Saint Ferdinand. It was renovated in 1868 and its stunning gothic pattern seen today that dramatically changed the architecture of the original building.

Mission San Diego de Alcala in San Diego

Saint Junipero Serra and the Franciscans were selected as the enthusiastic preachers to evangelize to the Indians in what is now San Diego. The father of church Father Junipero had constructed this church in 1769 at 56 years. Its original location lingered and loitered for only five years due to unreliable water supply. The mission was moved six miles east.

Mission San Diego de Alcala in San Diego

After dissatisfaction with the Spanish authorities in 1775, an insurrection had occurred and the mission was burned down by killing of three people. Father Junipero Serra returned to San Diego in 1776 and oversaw the rebuilding of the mission. The church was reformed the mission grounds to be in a quadrangle. It had armored and fortified structures surrounding to prevent additional attacks. Extensive restoration has brought Mission San Diego to what its original structure would have looked like. The grounds are a peaceful oasis amidst a bustling city.

St. Gabriel Catholic Church in St. Gabriel

The traditional dates of St. Gabriel’s inauguration with township in 1761 with the actual church building being built in 1776. The exiled French Acadian Catholics from Canada had construed the church out of cypress from surrounding swamps.

St. Gabriel Catholic Church in St. Gabrie

They both served by both the Spanish and the French. Its original location was too close to the Mississippi River so the entire church was moved to its current location. The cypress timbers making up the structure of the church were in perfect condition as were the bell and tower, so the original structure still stands today. St. Gabriel Catholic Church has since built a new church on the same property but the new building overlooks this beautiful historic landmark.

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Top 10 Oldest Churches in the World

Here are ten historical churches from around the world that have endured the passage of time in one form or another. The Top 10 oldest catholic churches in the World are:

  1. Aqaba Church, Jordan
  2. 2. Trier Cathedral, Germany
  3. 3. Dura-Europos Church, Syria:
  4. San Miguel Chapel, United States
  5. Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, Ethiopia
  6. Megiddo Church, Israel:
  7. 7. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City:
  8. Church of St. Peter, Turkey
  9. The Pantheon, Italy
  10. Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia

Let’s explore More about these Top 10 oldest Churches in the World!

1. Aqaba Church, Jordan

Although no longer in use, Aqaba is cited by Guinness World Records as the “oldest known purpose-built Christian church in the world” and is thought to have been built between 293 and 303 AD.

Aqaba Church, Jordan

At some point in the late 4th century, it’s believed that the church was rebuilt to make more room for worshippers, creating space for around 100 people in its new form. A well-documented earthquake in 363 AD around Galilee destroyed the church and its remains lay dormant for over 1,500 years, becoming buried in the process. The remnants were eventually uncovered by a team of archaeologists in 1998.

2. Trier Cathedral, Germany

With its many towers, turrets and spires climbing into the sky, the oldest church in Germany is an impressive sight. The first church on the site dates back to the 4th century, and various incarnations have been built, destroyed and rebuilt since then, although some features from the very first church remain at the current-day site.

Trier Cathedral, Germany

One particularly notable item held by the church is the ‘Holy Robe’, a tunic said to have been worn by Christ before or during his crucifixion, which is occasionally – but rarely – exhibited for public display.

3. Dura-Europos Church, Syria

As the ruins come from a building that dates all the way back to around 233-235 AD, the Dura-Europos Church is widely namechecked as the oldest church in the world. But since the building seems to have been originally constructed as a house – then converted for use as a church – some argue that it can’t be the oldest church in a pure sense.

Dura-Europos Church, Syria

It’s now often referred to as the earliest ‘house church’, albeit one no longer in use. The ruins were discovered by a team of archaeologists when the site was excavated during the 1920s and 1930s. This also uncovered various frescoes (now housed at a gallery in Yale University, who sponsored the original excavation) that are believed to be some of the earliest Christian paintings ever found.

4. San Miguel Chapel, United States

This distinctive chapel in New Mexico’s Santa Fe is claimed to be the oldest Catholic Church in the United States. It’s believed to have been built between 1610 (the year that Santa Fe was founded) and 1626 by Tlaxcalan communities who came to New Mexico from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala. The church is initially thought to have been used by Tlaxcalan workers and Spanish soldiers who also arrived from Mexico.

San Miguel Chapel, United States

The church was badly damaged multiple times (once as a result of a feud between New Mexico’s Governor and church authorities, and later during the Pueblo Revolt, where indigenous Pueblo people overthrew Spanish colonisers), but was always repaired and rebuilt. A three-storey bell tower added in 1848 was destroyed in a strong storm in 1872, but the ‘San Jose Bell’ survived and is on display inside the church.

5. Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, Ethiopia

As one of the first regions in the world to adopt Christianity as a national religion, it’s no surprise to hear that Ethiopia contains numerous ancient churches. Of these, the oldest is thought to be the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Aksum, believed to date back to the mid-4th century. The church has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, and it’s not known how much of the original structure – if any – survives as part of the modern-day building, which is still used as a functioning church.

Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, Ethiopia

The Ark of the Covenant (a gold-plated wooden box said to hold the two tablets that the Ten Commandments are engraved on) is also claimed to be held in a chapel on the church grounds, although this is difficult to verify, as no-one except an appointed guardian is allowed to see it.

6. Megiddo Church, Israel

The location of this late 3rd-century church now houses a prison, and it was the inmates who first discovered parts of the remains in 2005. An Israeli archaeologist from Tel Aviv University uncovered the site more fully. Various artifacts were discovered, including a huge mosaic featuring a picture of a fish (an early Christian symbol) and several inscriptions written in Greek.

Megiddo Church, Israel

One of these inscriptions mentions a woman named Aketous donating a table to the church, presumably to be used as an altar. This suggests it predated the Byzantine era (when altars became more commonly used), which began in approximately 330 AD.

7. St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

The second-largest church in the world (the largest until 2015, when a newly built Ivory Coast church took the title) is also one of the oldest and most well-known. The original church was completed around 333 AD (commissioned by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great) and is traditionally said to have been built on the site of the tomb of St. Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples.

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

The building eventually fell into disrepair and a new basilica (the existing modern-day structure) was commissioned by Pope Nicholas V, completed in 1615. Renaissance artist Michelangelo was appointed chief architect for part of its construction and the basilica contains various works by the artist, including ‘Pietà’, a marble sculpture which was the only piece he ever signed.

8. Church of St. Peter, Turkey

The only church on our list to be carved into the side of a mountain is this architectural feat located in the Turkish city of Antakya, formerly known as Antioch. Its exact origins and founding are difficult to pin down and continue to be disputed. Some say that an area was carved out from the cave to create a covert place of worship for early Christian followers – where St. Peter the Apostle would also preach – perhaps as early as 40 AD.

Church of St. Peter, Turkey

When Antakya was captured by crusaders in 1098, further parts of the church were constructed and extended. However, the earliest surviving parts of the church – including mosaic flooring and remnants of frescoes – date back to the 4th or 5th centuries and can still be viewed when visiting the site today.

9. The Pantheon, Italy

This marvel of a building in Italy’s capital, Rome, holds many accolades – some supported, others less so.

The Pantheon, Italy

It’s quite possibly the world’s oldest Roman building still in use, and it seems fairly certain that the structure also contains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome – a truly enchanting sight to stare up at. But the claim by some that it’s the world’s oldest functioning church isn’t quite as clear-cut.

10. Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia

The first church to have been built on this site was originally constructed between 301 and 303 AD (making it one of the oldest churches in Armenia – some claim it to be the oldest, although this is now disputed), built by King Tiridates III and St. 

Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Armenia

Gregory the Illuminator, the Patron Saint of the Armenian Church. The church in its current form was largely the result of a major renovation in 483 AD, perhaps due to damage caused during battle or from a fire.

The innovation and artistry behind its construction – and its influence on Christian architecture around the region – helped the church to become recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000

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The all are the famous churches which are not only famous for worshiping but also famous for their unique styles. As it is mentioned above this article explain oldest catholic churches in USA, oldest and famous churches of the world; and eminent and well-known church of England on Top 10 Question!

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