Reflecting the Mind of the Vatican since 1850
Christianity in Central Asia: The Jesuit mission in Kyrgyzstan
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Although Christianity was born in Asia – and until the Arab conquests of the seventh century the center of Christianity remained in Asia – today it is more commonly considered a continent that is characterized by Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. When it comes to religions few people know that, even after Muslims had conquered its places of origin, Christianity spread throughout the territory between Mesopotamia and the Pacific, spanning the whole Eurasian continent.

Though there is evidence of Greek-based Christianity in Central Asia in the first centuries AD, the principal credit for the dissemination of Christianity belongs to the Church for a long time known as “Nestorian,” whose followers call themselves the “Apostolic (or Assyrian) Church of the East.”

This is probably the least known and certainly the smallest of the Christian churches in this region although it goes back to communities present in Mesopotamia in the first century, specifically in the Parthian Empire, which would be then overtaken by the Sassanids in the third century.

As late as the fifth century, these communities settled in the region east of the Amu Darya River. In the seventh century, missionaries of this church reached China, which, at that time, was ruled by the Tang dynasty. In the 11th century several Turkish and Mongolian tribes, which in the 13th century established the Mongolian Empire, were converted. The Assyrian Church of the East had spread further than any other Christian Church, until the explorations of the 15th and 16th centuries.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2022
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