Christianity is represented by Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, and some sectarian communities in Azerbaijan. Five Armenian-Gregorian communities have been registered in the country.
Orthodoxy is currently represented by Russian and Georgian Orthodox churches in Azerbaijan. The Russian Orthodox churches that were founded in 2000 are subjected to the Eparchy of Baku and the Caspian region. The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest Christian confession in Azerbaijan by the number of adherents. The establishment of this church in our country dates back to the early 19th century.
Azerbaijan also accounts for eleven Malakan communities related to the old rituals of orthodoxy. These communities do not have any church; their dogmas are fixed in a special book of rituals. They oppose the church hierarchy, which has a special power.
Albanian-Udi Church. Although the registration of the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community is not formally different from the registration of other communities, it is a very significant event in terms of character, content, and religious and political significance. Today 6000 of 10 000 people of the Udi ethnic community live in Azerbaijan, including 4400 people compactly residing in the Nij village of Gabala district.
The udis, which originated from the Turkic tribes of the fourth century B.C., resided on Karabakh and Caspian seashore territory, later accepted Christianity, and spread this religion in the Caucasus Albania. The church of Kish (the Kish village of Sheki district)-the first Christian church-was considered the forefather of the Christian churches.
Following the machinations of the Armenians deported to Karabakh by Tsarist Russia, the Russian tsar signed a decree in 1836 to abolish the Albanian Church and Albanian temples. All equipment and documents belonging to the church were transferred to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Under such conditions, the udis would either accept the Gregorian religion, thus turning to Armenians, or become lonely dervishes. However, they had remained truthfully devoted to their faith, traditions, and historical motherland by displaying great courage for over 180 years and did not turn into Armenians. On the contrary, they tried to remove the historical injustice initiated in 1836. Theoretically proven historical facts were materialized with the restoration of the Albanian-Udi Christian community, and justice and the rights of the Udi have been restored.
Armenians, who tried to tamper with and destroy everything that reminded them of Caucasian Albania and the Albanian Apostolic Church, could not fully implement their insidious plans. After the restoration of state independence by the Azerbaijani nation, two Albanian-Udi religious communities were registered by the state: the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Oghuz city.
The ‘Yelisey Temple’ church, located in the Kish village of Sheki and known as the “mother of churches” in the Caucasus, was restored with the support of the Government of Azerbaijan. In 2006, Albanian Church “Chotari” was officially opened in the Nij settlement of the Gabala region, the only place where Udis live compactly and are considered their historic Homeland. In 2020, another historical church – the holy church of Saint Maria, which is located in Nij town, was thoroughly restored by Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
Furthermore, on July 14, 2013, the tradition of baptism, which had been forgotten for more than 80 years, was revived in the Albanian-Udi religious community. On August 3, 2013, a ceremony was held with state support to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the revival of the Albanian-Udi church and the 1700th anniversary of Christianity’s adoption as the official religion in Caucasian Albania. It is also a reality that the Udi people living in our country are surrounded with full attention and care by the state of Azerbaijan.
The state of Azerbaijan carries out vital work to study the ancient and rich history of Caucasian Albania, discover the real scientific and historical truths, and expose the Armenian falsifications. Because undeniable historical facts confirm that the only successor of the magnificent tangible cultural heritage of Caucasian Albania is Azerbaijanis.
Historical Albanian churches met with their true owners after the liberation of our territories, which were under occupation for almost 30 years. Each of them is visited by community members. Rafiq Danakari, the chairman of the Albanian Orthodox Church, was appointed a preacher at the Khudavang monastery in the Kalbajar region.
Catholicism. The Roman Catholic community in Baku mainly represents this trend of Christianity in Azerbaijan.
After the Azerbaijan Republic gained its independence, there were good conditions for the revival of Catholicism. On the basis of the high diplomatic relationship between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Vatican, the catholic community is thoroughly supported by government assistance.
It should be noted that the Catholic community was first registered by the State Committee on Religious Associations of the Republic of Azerbaijan on January 31, 2002. The most memorable event in the history of Catholics in our country took place in May of the same year. So, Pope John Paul II made an official visit to our country with the invitation of National Leader Heydar Aliyev. The pontiff’s visit was a new page for the fate of Catholics in Azerbaijan.
A Catholic Church was built in the center of Baku in February 2007. On 28 September 2008, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Catholic religious community.
One example that shows the high diplomatic relationship between Azerbaijan and the Vatican is Pope Francis’ visit to our country on 2 October 2016.
Protestantism. Currently, Protestantism is represented by different branches in our country. The following are the protestant communities registered in Azerbaijan: “New Life Christian Bible” religious community, Baku religious community of Savior Evangelical Lutherans, “Word of Life” Christian religious community, “Word of Life – 2” Christian religious community of Sumgait, “Agape” religious community of Baku Evangelical Christian Baptists, “Seventh-day Adventists” religious community of Narimanov district of Baku, “Seventh-day Adventists of Ganja city” Christian religious community, “Vineyard Azerbaijan” Christian religious community, and “Alov” (Flame) Christian religious community of Baku.