Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services
Address: Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
Contact: Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian
Tel: (374 1) 517 163
Fax: (374 1) 517 301
E-Mail: [email protected]
March 28, 2005
Resurrected is Christ,
Resurrected is the Armenian Nation. -
His Holiness Karekin II
Easter Sunday in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
On Sunday, March 27, the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ was celebrated by the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church in dioceses, parishes and communities throughout the world.
In Holy Etchmiadzin, the worldwide headquarters of the Armenian Church and the Mother Cathedral of all Armenians, the morning began with the solemn pontifical procession entering the ancient cathedral, where His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, began the celebration of the Pontifical Divine Liturgy on the most significant day of the year.
Assisting His Holiness at the Holy Altar were His Grace Bishop Yeznik Petrossian, Director of Inter-Church Relations, and His Grace Bishop Arshak Khatchatrian, Chancellor of the Mother See.
During the service, His Holiness addressed his message to Armenians throughout the world on the occasion of Holy Easter, where he noted:
".Resurrected is Christ! Sin has been expiated upon the cross. Irreversible hopelessness and fear, like the chains of death, have forever been shattered. Life is emanating from the tomb and the all-conquering hope of salvation and everlasting life are shining. God is wondrously glorified and glorified is man, because Christ submitted Himself to the cross and was resurrected, so that life stained through human sin be renewed and restored in its aim, in its true course towards God. .Christ brought to man the perfect example of filial obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father, declaring that mankind's highest aspiration is to choose the providential and saving Will of God.
"Indeed, dear ones, through the choice of the Will of God, mankind will be able to reject and prevent Der-Zor and Holocaust, reject and prevent September 11 and Beslan, to see paths free of wars and violence, and to find the just and luminous fraternal avenues among nations. Hope is alive upon those roads, the hope of life, progress and the future. Today and always, the opportunities of man, his choices and decisions, shall be directed to the care of the world and humanity, just as the Creator's Fatherly care is towards His creation. Along with the crucified and resurrected Savior, we are His collaborators in saving, through which we have life and have it abundantly."
His Holiness, reflecting on the significance of the Resurrection for the Armenian people and nation, noted: "Holy Etchmiadzin, established through the shower of light of the Resurrection, is the soul of all Armenians the rejuvenated soul of the nation, surviving destructions and deaths throughout the centuries of history. Our people have not seen the empty tomb of Christ, but together with Christ, they have often seen the emptiness of the graves which had been prepared for them. Together with Christ they wove glorious crowns of victory. The Armenian cannot deny the Resurrection of the Christ. Our past and our present are testimony to that Resurrection. We experienced the Golgotha of the Genocide together with Christ, turning the most tragic period of our history into a time of victory. Our people, massacred and bleeding, in heroic struggle, gave birth to their new statehood. The first Armenian Republic rose from the ashes, as testimony to the immortal aspiration of our people for the eternal existence of Armenian statehood. Resurrected is Christ, resurrected is the Armenian Nation."
The Catholicos of All Armenians called upon the pious faithful to follow the examples of their luminous forefathers in overcoming all difficulties in this temporal life, to see the providential love of God beyond material goods, to believe in the saving mission and strength of the Risen Christ. "The message of the Feast of Easter is faith. Our resurrected life with the Redeemer begins with faith, and with faith it strengthens and flourishes. With faith, self-sacrifice becomes natural, and love for a neighbor becomes the source of joy and happiness. This is the deep and mysterious miracle of the Resurrection, always aspiring to eternal heights, to truth, to justice and to the good. .Beloved Armenians, with the light of your faith turn your life to glorifying God, so that in all your works, your heartbeat is strong, your love emanates, and your will for the just, the true and the good is victorious", noted His Holiness.
The Pontiff of All Armenians also addressed his greetings, blessings and congratulations to the Incumbents of the Hierarchal Sees of the Armenian Church, the entire ranks of clergy, state officials of the Republics of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh and the spiritual leaders of Sister Churches.
Present during the Divine Liturgy were Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Andranik Margarian, President of the Constitutional Court of Armenia Gagik Harutiunian, National Assembly Members and Ministers of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, ambassadors and the diplomatic corps of foreign governments, representatives of international organizations in Armenia, members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, and thousands of faithful from throughout Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora.
At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy, an official reception was held in the Pontifical Residence during which His Holiness welcomed and congratulated the guests on the occasion of the Glorious Resurrection of Christ, with the great tiding: "Christ is Risen from the dead! Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ."
<googlemap lat="40.161657" lon="44.291006" zoom="17"></googlemap>
ARMENIA - Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the holy seat of the Supreme Patriarch-Catholicos of All Armenians. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral inside the complex which encompasses an area of 150,000m², was built in 303 on the site of a pagan temple after the adoption of Christianity as a state religion in 301.
The Etchmiadzin complex is considered a sanctified soil and has been called Armenian Vatican.
On the right is the Gate of Saint Gregory and on the left is the Altar Gevorkian Seminary. The entrance to the complex is through this gate.
View from inside the complex. It is here where the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was held in 24 April 2015 where approximately 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turkey people.
The Altar where the Catholicos of All Armenian, Karekin II canonised the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Manuscript Library.
Gevorkian Seminary was established since 1874.
This theological seminary was granted status of university in 2003 and is the oldest higher education institution in the modern history of Armenia.
The highlight of this complex is none other than the Etchmiadzin Cathedral.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Etchmiadzin Cathedral was built in the year 483 and is considered to be the oldest cathedral in the world.
When I was there, the cathedral was under renovation to get ready for the 100th year commemoration of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish Ottoman in the year 1915.
Time to head in.
Interior of the Ethmiadzin Cathedral.
For many centuries, Etchmiadzin was the national and political center of the Armenian people.
This cathedral is a major pilgrimage site and one of the most visited place in Armenia.
A picture of Jesus and his 12 disciples.
Displayed in the Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the Holy Lance, the lance that pierced the side of Jesus. Don’t know how true that this is the Holy Lance since there are so many claimed Holy Lance in this world. I didn’t see it as there is a fee to enter this part of the cathedral.
Front view of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral. Because of the on going renovation works the facade of the cathedral was marred by the scaffoldings.
The cat leaping to catch a bee.
Some books for sale in the museum.
Beautiful gardens at the complex.
Took some photo’s of the beautiful and colourful flowers.
Time to have a look at that building.
The Armenian Genocide memorial.
Armenia has abundant of spring water.
The Saint Vartan and Hovhannes Baptistery.
Weddings and Baptism are held here.
Interior of the chapel.
Nice place for a photo stop.
Books and souvenir shop.
Gate of King Trdat leading to the Pontifical Residence.
Veharan Pontifical Residence completed in 1915 consist of the pontifical residence quarters, administrative offices of the Catholicos, meeting rooms and treasury museum.
Part of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin complex is the Church of Holy Archangels. Completed in 2011, the tower serves as a seminary church.
View of the Church of Holy Archangels from inside the complex.
Heading back out after exploring the complex of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin,
Took a photo of two pretty Armenians on the way out.
Leaving the complex.
Just opposite Etchmiadzin complex is the Museum of Sculptors.
Few interesting sculptors are being displayed outside the museum.
Went in the museum to see more of the sculptors. Entrance fee is about USD 1.
Some of the sculptures being displayed.
The exhibition hall.
I’ll post some of the interesting sculptures here.
Struggle for Life.
All the sculptures were sculptured by Khoren Der-Harootian.
Time to leave. An abandoned building at the car park.
Passed by the Komitas Statue at the central square of Echmiadzin city. Komitas was a famous musicologist, composer and a choirmaster.
The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is located in Vagharshapat which has also other historical landmarks. I headed there next.
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
Etchmiadzin is the Vatican of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the place where Surp Grigor Lusavorich saw a beam of light in a divine vision, and where he built the first Mayr Tachar (Mother Church of Armenia). Though its rich history and symbolic importance make it a revered destination for Armenian Christians, the compound's churches and museums are underwhelming. Those who only have time for one day trip from Yerevan should consider visiting Geghard Monastery and Garni Temple instead.
The main cathedral, Mayr Tachar, stands in a quadrangle of hedges and lawn surrounded by 19th-century buildings. The original church was consecrated between AD 301 and 303 when Christianity was first adopted by the Armenian nation, but later fell into ruin and was rebuilt in 480–83. More work and expansion occurred in the 600s, 1600s and 1700s, and a major restoration of the interior was being undertaken at the time of writing. The three-tiered bell tower at the entrance of the church is richly carved and dates from 1654. Inside, the church is modest in scale, about 20m by 20m, but the roof gleams with frescoes. At the centre is an altar at the place where St Gregory saw the divine light strike the ground. Divine Liturgy is celebrated every Sunday starting at 11am (10.30am on feast days). Morning services are generally conducted at 7.30am from Monday to Saturday and 8am on Sunday. Evening services are generally conducted at 5.30pm daily.
The grounds include the Palace of the Catholicos (aka the Veharan), the home of the present Catholicos, Karekin II, who was enthroned in 1999. He is the supreme prelate of the 1700-year-old Armenian Apostolic faith. There's also the Cathedral Museum containing precious items obtained by the Church, and the disappointing Rouben Sevak Museum.
The gardens of Mayr Tachar have a 1915–23 Genocide Monument and many fine khachkars assembled from around the country. There are also a number of contemporary churches, seminaries and libraries in the compound, the most notable of which is the Holy Archangels Church next to the main gate. This was designed by Jim Torosyan and consecrated in 2011.
Armenian medieval churches
Armenian churches of different periods do have their own characteristics, so before looking at each of them separately, it’s important to know what they have in common or what unique features distinguish them from others.
The churches have pointed domes, similar to the volcanic funnel of Greater Ararat. These pointed or semi-pointed domes (cupolas) are attached above arched ceilings. The vertical accent of the whole building and its height often exceeds the length of the church. They are almost entirely made of stone either with basalt or volcanic tuff and have arched, stone ceilings. If there are carvings or Frescoes, they are usually very ornate and include intertwining foliage and grapevines.
Etchmiadzin Cathedral: A Hope For Renewal And Reunion
The Holy Etchmiadzin Cathedral surrounded by scaffolding while under renovation
Many years ago, when I was a student at Claremont School of Theology, I started a blog called “Grassroots Theology.” In my blogs, the main precepts were inspired by Christian ethics, pointing to the relationship of simple men and women with God Incarnate in the most grassroots way.
Bringing simple men and women into perspective is the main purpose of Christian ethics. Its praxis is an embracing invitation to the disenfranchised to participate in the life of the church and practice their faith in fullness, without any discriminations. In the Sermon on the Mountain, referring to this category of people, Our Lord says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).
Indeed, the Son of God assumed a human nature to save the human race, but above all to liberate the poor, the meek, and the marginalized. By descending from the heavens, and ultimately, surrendering to the cross, Christ came to reaffirm that the wealth, power, and social standing are not the decisive qualities that earn one the title of a Christian. On the contrary, often times the true and virtuous Christians are found amongst humble, ordinary people, who have faith in their hearts. As Jesus says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25).
Think for a moment! Who were the first founding members of Christ’s church in the first century? They were working class people from humble beginnings. In Armenia, after years of persecutions and martyrdoms, the entire country converted to Christianity, when the privileged royalty humbled itself before God in 301 AD. Then, in 303, King Tiridates III, hand in hand with ordinary people, built and erected the magnificent Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.
Society has changed a lot since the formation of the early church. Nevertheless, the ordinary people still continue to be in the forefront of the apostolic evangelism and grassroots Christianity.
In 2012, when the restoration of Etchmiadzin Cathedral started, a pan-Armenian fundraising strategy was adopted to allow every person to contribute according to his or her ability. His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, was appointed by the Armenian Pontiff Karekin II to lead the world-wide fundraising campaign. Touring the world from Americas to Australia, from Africa to the Middle East and Europe, from Armenia to Russia, His Eminence broke the Eucharistic bread and shared the holy chalice with ordinary people in various churches, sermonizing on the mystery of Holy Etchmiadzin as the spiritual center of the Armenian people. Lo and behold, the ordinary people heard the message and responded to the call with abundant generosity. Along with major donations, thousands of smaller ones were received as an outpouring of love, dedication, and faithfulness. In my opinion, what we have witnessed was a change of paradigm in the Armenian Church, especially in the diaspora.
At the beginning of 20th century, when Archbishop Karekin Hovsepian embarked on a fundraising campaign for the renovation of the Mother Cathedral, it is said that he was approached by a prominent benefactor and America’s very first billionaire John D. Rockefeller (also called deacon for his piousness), who offered to fund the entire renovation. Declining the generous offer, the Archbishop stated that Etchmiadzin Cathedral was venerated as a historic and sacred place by all Armenians, and therefore, it was the right and obligation of all people to renovate it.
Grassroots participation fosters sense of belonging and ownership. In this context, ownership does not have a “possessive” connotation, but rather implies to sacrificial love, dedication, and caregiving, just as in Christ’s lordship.
Through the restoration of the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin and the act of grassroots fundraising, one should see a spiritual reawakening and change in the paradigm, praxis, and precepts of how we do Christian ethics.
Etchmiadzin Cathedral, one of the oldest standing Christian shrines in the world listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is the spiritual home for the global Armenian community, and as such, must remain embracing and inclusive.
Armenia has had a long, turbulent, and sometimes tragic history. Hemmed in by bigger neighbours, Armenia has always struggled to remain free. If it wasn’t the Romans and the Parthians fighting it out over their territory, than it was the Russians and the Turks. Finally after the break-up of the Soviet Union they once more became an independent nation.
With its own alphabet and church, called the Armenian Apostolic Church -- also the oldest Christian church in the world -- Armenia clearly likes to do things differently. All this historical swashbuckling, combined with its independent streak and a stunning location, has endowed Armenia with a plethora of tourist sights, some sobering, others not.
Start in Yerevan with its theatres, museums, cafés, and the edifying genocide memorials, to understand Armenian history and present culture. Once you get that down, head into the countryside and visit some of the beautiful churches, with Echmiadzin Cathedral, equivalent to an Armenian Vatican and the oldest cathedral in the world. Climb Mt. Aragats for a magnificent view of Armenia and nearby Mt. Ararat (in Turkey) where Noah’s Ark supposedly made landfall. Make your way to Debed Canyon and visit the World Heritage Site listed monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, or go south to Tatev Monastery with its incredible location on the edge of Vorotan Canyon. And all along the way, don’t forget to enjoy the warm hospitality of the Armenians!
Don’t count on getting by in English. Your best bet is Russian or learning some Armenian words, people will love you for it!
- , and it is fun to try and find all the hidden churches, sometimes found in apartment block courtyards!
- Visit Echmiadzin, Armenia’s Holy See, also known as Etchmiadzin, to understand what the Armenian Church is all about
- Climb Mount Aragats, Armenia’s highest mountain
- Go up north and visit Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries
- Turn south and head to Khor Virap at the foot of Mount Ararat, where Armenian Christianity all begun
- Wind your way further south, passing Norovank Monastery along the way with its dramatic setting, until finally reaching Tatev for the best view you have ever seen
- Get yourself invited by a friendly Armenian family and enjoy some good food and wine
- Take a dip in cool Lake Sevan, a blue watery pearl in the middle of Armenia
- Most Europeans don’t need a visa for Armenia anymore, Americans should also be able to enter visa-free as of 2015. For other nationalities, you can get a visa at the border.
Sardarabad and Etchmiadzin
After the Day 3 marathon, I think everyone was happy with our shorter Day 4 plans. At the very least, everyone was happy about the later departure time – 10AM instead of 8. The schedule for the day was Sardarabad and Etchmidazin/the Vagharshapat churches. I was looking forward to Sardarabad because I hadn’t been there yet, and I was looking forward to the rest of the day because I actually know something about the churches we were visiting and could be a better tour guide than some of the other days.
Sardarabad, an Armenian town west of Yerevan, is often considered to be the site of the most important battle in Armenian history. In January of 1918, the new Bolshevik Russian government ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Caucasus. Ottoman Turkey saw this as an opportunity to not only complete their seizure of Western Armenia but to take over Eastern Armenia as well. This would have meant the complete the destruction of the Armenian nation.
Not a great pictures, but this is the only one we have of all of us from this day.
The Armenian army rushed to deploy forces to hold the positions formerly defended by the Russians. Only a fraction of the historical Armenian homeland remained unconquered by the Ottoman Empire, and hundreds of thousands of Western Armenian refugees had fled to safety there. In May, Ottoman forces marched into Armenia and attacked modern-day Gyumri. After Gyumri (then called Alexandropol) fell, the army turned towards Yerevan. They launched three simultaneous attacks in Sardarabad, Karaklisa (now Vanadzor), and Bash Abaran.
Fall. Is. The. Best.
The Armenian forces were vastly outnumbered, and a massive civilian recruiting effort was organized. There’s a story about the Catholicos at the time refusing to leave Etchmiadzin when people wanted to relocate him to safety. He said that he would fight if it came to that, and he ordered all of the church bells in the valley to ring for six days to recruit more people. People, regardless of age or occupation, volunteered to fight and were organized into civilian units. Women and children helped in various capacities as well, and I have no doubt that many even ended up in combat.
Against all odds, the three battles resulted in Armenian victories, halting the advance of the Ottoman army and preserving the last bit of Armenia. They (once again, the mysterious “they” who have an opinion about everything) say that what the Armenian volunteers lacked in training, they made up for in determination and passion. For them, it was personal. They were fighting to protect their families and for the survival of Armenia.
The thing about war is that even when you win, you still lose. Thousands of lives were lost during the battles, and I’m sure that the families of those people didn’t much feel like celebrating. However, due to the courage and sacrifice of the army and those volunteers, Armenia exists today.
The memorial complex was built for the 50 th anniversary of the battle, in 1968, and it’s kind of amazing. You drive straight at it on your way there and have an epic view of the bulls and the belfry. The bulls represent the united strength and persistence of the Armenian people. The bells are a shrine to those who were killed in battle and now represent victory bells. The eagles lining the path to the memorial wall are standing guard over the future of the Armenian people. The memorial wall depicts the battle (very symbolically I think because we totally didn’t get it) and the rebirth of the Armenian people. Finally, the museum is designed like an Armenian medieval fortress. All of the windows face interior courtyards except for two – one facing Aragats and the other facing Ararat. Everything is made from red tuff and is gigantic. On days when the sky is blue, the contrast between the red stone and the blue sky is pretty awesome.
One of the bulls The eagle walk The memorial wall The fortress-like museum
The museum was built later and has two parts: the majority of the museum is filled with various historical and cultural objects (ethnography museum), similar to the Armenian History Museum in Yerevan, and the other part is dedicated to the battle. We went on a tour of the Ethnography Museum, and it was exhaustingly long but also very well done. It’s one of those places that’s almost not even worth visiting without doing the tour because you can walk around and completely miss the important things without realizing it.
I can never get enough of the painted ceilings at Etchmiadzin.
By the time we left the museum, I think everyone was ready for a nap, but we had more things to do! We drove to Etchmiadzin, and I walked everyone around my favorite parts of the complex. We also went to the museum inside Etchmiadzin which I was excited about because they have (supposedly) a piece of the cross, a piece of Noah’s Ark, and the spear that pierced Jesus’s side when he was on the cross. Each of these relics is one of many in the world with similar claims attached. The cross and Noah’s Ark could at least physically have multiple pieces in different places, but the spear is another matter. There can be only one. Obviously, all of the others are fakes and the Armenia one is real. It’s said to have been brought by the Apostle Thaddeus to Armenia and was housed in Geghard Monastery for a long time before ending up in Etchmiadzin.
The rest of the museum was less exciting. Lots of fancy Catholicos clothing and other reliquaries that didn’t have much information about what was inside them. Honestly, the museum could use a good labeling. I thought it was cool anyway and the rooms were beautiful, but I also wouldn’t have minded actually knowing what we were looking at.
Like seriously… is this not awesome?? Piece of Noah’s Ark. We were a little confused about this but think that maybe the brown stuff you can see behind the cross is the piece? Maybe? The spear. The only real spear. Here’s another confusing one. I guess the piece of the cross is inside, but you can’t see anything. For all we know, it could be empty. Or filled with cotton balls. Or Hello Kitty erasers. Or M&Ms. My point is, it could be anything. Or nothing. Not a fantastic picture, but this is inside one of my favorite chapels at Etchmiadzin. When the sun is in the right positions, the light coming through the windows makes crosses on the ground or the walls. It’s cool!
From there, we walked to Saint Gayane Church and later drove to Saint Hripsime. There were weddings happening at both churches, so we pretended we were invisible and tried to stay out of everyone’s way. It was only semi-successful because at Saint Hripsime, if you want to see the tomb and the stones that supposedly stoned her, you need to get all the way to the front of the church. Not easy to do without being noticed. Anyway, I’ve written in great detail about the stories of Saint Gayane and Saint Hripsime and the origins of Etchmiadzin, so if you want a refresher, you can check out those old posts HERE.
We were planning on stopping by the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral on the way back to Yerevan and decided to skip it because everyone was about ready to pass out. I think we made the right choice in the moment, but it’s still on my list. Maybe I’ll manage to get there one of these days!
General champions troubled Armenia as member of CentCom Coalition in Tampa
PINELLAS PARK — On a Thursday evening in October, standing straight and tall in his Armenian Armed Forces uniform, Lt. Col. Armen Zakaryan choked back tears as he stood before the congregation at his Pinellas Park church.
Earlier that week, word had spread that airstrikes from Turkish and Azerbaijani forces had leveled parts of the Armenian city of Artsakh in an ongoing dispute over who can lay claim to the tiny territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
More than 200 Armenian soldiers and thousands of civilians were killed.
“I am here, but I wish to be there,” Zakaryan said then from the pulpit of St. Hagop Armenian Church, where he, his wife and three children have found a home during his assignment as Armenia’s representative to the U.S. Central Command Coalition at MacDill Air Force Base.
“I wish to be there to sacrifice my life for my homeland — I am ready for that. I am ready to be there with my friends, my brothers and sisters in arms to defend my homeland, but my government, my leadership, decided to keep me here.”
Nearly eight months later, Zakaryan still replays that night in his head. It was the low point in a 44-day war that ended in surrender by Armenia, a geographically isolated Middle Eastern country the size of Maryland and with a population of 3 million — about the same as the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area.
A treaty left Russian peacekeeping forces in charge of Nagorno-Karabakh and surviving Armenians — soldiers and civilians alike — were held as prisoners of war.
On Monday, three of those prisoners were released under international pressure. They join others who are slowly regaining their freedom. More than 200 are still being held, Zakaryan said. Human rights groups and Armenian officials say many are being tortured. Azerbaijan says detainees are being treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
Armenia made headlines last month for its painful history of oppression. President Joe Biden used the word “genocide” to describe the death of some 1.5 million Armenians who were driven from their homeland by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire during the outbreak of World War I.
Previous U.S. presidents stopped short of using the word in their annual commemorations of the deadly deportation. They had been reluctant to complicate relations with Turkey, a NATO ally and important power in the Middle East.
Turkey, the nation carved from the Ottoman Empire after World War I, has rejected the genocide label, saying there was no concerted campaign and calling the number of dead a fraction of the Armenian claims. Decades of hostility have followed, culminating in last year’s war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a largely Armenian territory inside Azerbaijan.
Zakaryan is using his CentCom position to showcase the suffering that continues in his homeland.
“My mission is to share the truth about what’s going on in Armenia with anyone who will listen,” he said, “that we are a peaceful people who are acting in self-defense. Armenia cannot be victim to genocide again.”
For the first time, as his three-year assignment draws to a close in September, he sees hope that his message is getting across.
“You see, even the day after President Biden’s message, things in my country began to change for the better — just in one day,” he said. “Just knowing that they were heard, that across the world people were starting to try to understand what’s going on in their lives, that was all they needed.”
Zakaryan has spent nearly 20 years in the Armenian Armed Forces, rising through the ranks to become deputy chief of the nation’s international military cooperation branch. The branch is responsible for organizing the country’s communications with the United States and 27 other NATO member countries.
More than 50 countries have representatives working together in the CentCom Coalition, formed to combat terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 jihadi attacks on the United States. Turkey is also one of the members.
Working alongside his nation’s biggest adversary isn’t easy, Zakryan said, but it’s an important step towards securing an internationally recognized, truthful account of the situation in Armenia.
“Sometimes it’s hard, but I have to remember this is so important for my country,” Zakaryan said. “I actually have two representatives from our enemy camps here, and you can talk with them, you can give them messages, and you can help Armenians.”
He added, “We are part of an alliance.”
Zakryan called Armenia a peace-loving country. After the 9/11 attacks, Armenia small military sent officers to aid the U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan and Iraq and Armenian troops are still working with international coalitions in Kosovo and Lebanon.
Armenians at home and abroad are eager to set the record straight about their plight through history and today, said the Rev. Hovnan Demerjian, pastor of St. Hagop Armenian Church. Demerjian welcomed the renewed emphasis on human rights that is behind Biden’s declaration, saying warfare in Armenia might have been stopped had the U.S. taken this stand earlier.
Aiding in the cause, he said, is social media and its capacity to help more Armenians tell their story.
“Our fight is not with the people invading our country,” Demerjian said. “Our fight is against apathy and those unwilling to listen to the truth. But now we’re finally starting to win that war.”
Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Information Services
Address: Vagharshapat, Republic of Armenia
Contact: Rev. Fr. Ktrij Devejian
Tel: (374 10) 517 163
Fax: (374 10) 517 301
E-Mail: ktrij @ etchmiadzin.am
September 19, 2005
Seven New Priests Ordained in Holy Etchmiadzin
On Saturday, September 10, the evening prior to the Feast of the Holy Cross, seven young deacons, all graduates of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin, were called to serve the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church as married clergymen. Their sponsoring priest was Rev. Fr. Mushegh Babayan, a member of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The following morning, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, His Eminence Archbishop Mesrob Krikorian, Pontifical Legate to Central Europe, celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. During the liturgy, he ordained the seven deacons to the rank of priesthood.
As he anointed the forehead, right and left hand of each young man, Abp. Mesrob called them by their new priestly names: Deacon Vazgen Kesablian was renamed Father Khatchatur Deacon Manuk Ghalachian became Father Sebeos Deacon Davit Mikaelian was renamed Father Derenik Deacon Gor Grigorian became Father Grigor Deacon Andranik Hakobian was renamed Father Mashtots Deacon Armen Mkrtchian became Father Mesrop and Deacon Vardan Avetisian was renamed Father Stepanos.
Following the ordinations, Abp. Mesrob addressed his sermon to the newly ordained, "The priesthood, dear ones, is not simply offering the services of our Church. Worship is very important, the Holy Sacraments are very important, but these are not the only responsibilities of the clergyman. The words of the Gospel are equally as holy and as vital. We are the servants of the Gospel, and therefore we transmit the holy words of the Gospel to the people. We must bring it to them in the orthodox way, explaining it to them and sealing these words on the hearts of our people."
The same day in Yerevan, at the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Mother Cathedral, Bishop Arakel Karamian, Primate of the Diocese of Kotayk, ordained ten graduates of the Accelerated Course for Priesthood to the rank of deacon.