Armenian Inscription in Surb Karapet Church

Armenian Inscription in Surb Karapet Church


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The King of Jordan: “The Saint Karapet Armenian Apostolic Church in Jordan is the Testament to the Enduring Armenian History in our Country”

The King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, His Royal Majesty Abdullah II Al Hussein All Hashimi, who is in Armenia on official visit, at the Presidential Palace in the presence of the official delegations of the two countries, local and foreign diplomats, heads of international organizations, and Orientalist scholars sent his massage on the topic of &ldquoReligion and Tolerance.&rdquo

Earlier, President Armen Sarkissian in his statement assessed the visit of His Royal Majesty to Armenia as historic and as an Armenian expressed his gratitude to the people of Jordan and King&rsquos family, &ldquoEveryone remembers that your grand grandfather appealed to Arab people to give refuge to the Armenians who had survived the Armenian Genocide. And I, on behalf of my people, would like to express my deepest gratitude.&rdquo

The President also informed that they had a wonderful discussion with His Royal Majesty, spoke about potential for cooperation between the two countries and peoples in the areas of tourism, education, science, technologies, security, food security, and agriculture.

His Royal Majesty Abdullah II on behalf of the Jordanian delegation expressed gratitude for the warm welcome. &rdquoYerevan, one of the world&rsquos oldest cities, is yet a vibrant and young city,&rdquo the King said. &ldquoIt reminds very much of my own beloved Jordan. Our two countries and peoples have in the contemporary world their unique place, all the while remaining true to our identities, the cultures, and faith. And Jordan, much like Armenia has made its human capital the main driving force in its journey towards development. Our countries have much to gain from cooperating, to capitalize on this promising potential.

Although this is our first official visit to your beautiful country, we feel like we are a family, and, in fact, we are a family. These bonds are dating back hundreds of years. My grand grandfather, as you mentioned, Mr. President, commanded to love God and love our neighbor and gave refuge to the Armenian Christian families. My grand grandfather, my grandfather, my father and me, helping those, who are desperately in need understood that it is the only option. It is a duty that Jordan continues to live by. Thousands of Jordanian trace their roots back to Armenia. They are an honor to both our countries and play a vital role in the arts, education, public service, business and much, much more. And they form the solid bedrock on which our friendship continues.&rdquo

King Abdullah said that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was preparing to celebrate its first centennial, &ldquoWe look back fondly and proudly on the role that the Jordanians of the Armenian descent and all Jordanians have played working for progress and prosperity of our homeland,&rdquo he said. &ldquoBut our joint history extends far beyond that. Armenians in the Middle East are part of the oldest Christian community of the world. They are an inextricable part of our past, and we look forward to working with you to make sure they continue to play such a role in shaping the present and the future.

Saint Karapet Armenian Apostolic Church in Jordan stands at the christening site of Jesus Christ on the banks of Jordan river. It is the testament to the enduring Armenian history in our country.

The Armenian quarter in Jerusalem has been part of the city for centuries, and the Armenian Patriarchate along with other churches has been under Omar&rsquos protection. A tradition of Christian and Muslim coexistence dates back over thirteen hundred years. This heritage continues today at the Islamic and Christian holy sites. This is a duty I am carrying proudly. And I am especially proud to be responsible for the holy sites of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Jerusalem holds great historic significance not only to me and my family the city is holy to the three monotheistic faiths, and they all have a stake in safeguarding the spiritual, peace and co-existence that it symbolizes. We cannot let the Holy City turning into a city for violence and division. So preserving the city&rsquos identity, its legal status as well as historic status quo in relations to holy sites, Islamic and Christian alike, is of critical importance. We look to Christian leaders and friends like you all over the world in safeguarding Jerusalem as a unifying city of peace. I have spoken today of our old friendship which has rich history.

Jordanians of Armenian descent have been creating for the last 100 years an exemplary story of friendship and proved that friendship and, certainly, brotherhood always win.

So, I hope that days and months ahead we can write a new chapter together, a chapter that builds upon friendship that began so long ago, new partnership and promise for all our people.&rdquo


Armenian Inscription in Surb Karapet Church - History

The Armenian church of Saint Mary (Surb Astuatsatsin) in Madras/Chennai which I had the privilege of visiting during my brief fieldwork in India in July of 2003, was built in 1772 on land that previously served as the burial ground for the Armenians. According to Mesrob Seth in his acclaimed book (The Armenians in India from the Earliest Times to the Present, 1897 and 2nd enlarged edition 1939), the property on which the church was erected belonged to Madras’s preeminent Armenian merchant, Agha Shahamir Sultanoum, (i.e., Shahamir Shamirian). In the same work, Seth provides the following brief comments on this church’s history:

“The first Armenian church at Madras was erected as far back as 1712. It was one of the few magnificent edifices in the Esplanade of that city, but the Armenians were obliged to desert it after a time, as the British authorities would not permit so high an edifice to stand in the immediate vicinity of the fort” (580, 1939 edition).

Though Seth as usual does not provide sources for choosing the date 1712 as the earliest possible time for Madras’s first church, it is likely that he was guided by an inscription on one of the church’s walls where the date �” is still clearly visible. (see second image below)

Several pieces of evidence, including a document I recently discovered in the British Library last week and which is the direct occasion for this blog, suggest that 1712 is indeed too late a date for Madras’s first Armenian church. In the first place, no source (in English or Armenian) known to me provides the date when Armenians first built a church for their religious needs. The 1688 “Agreement with the Armenian Nation” signed in London on 22 June and designed to attract Armenian merchants to settle in the Company’s settlements in India (in such places as Bombay, Madras, and, after 1690, Calcutta) included the following crucial clause:

“whenever forty or more of the Armenian Nation shall become Inhabitants in any of the Garrisons, Cities or Towns belonging to the Company in the East Indies, the said Armenians shall not only have and enjoy the free use and exercise of their Religion, but there shall be also allotted to them a parcel of Ground to erect a Church thereon for the worship and service of God in their ow way and that we will also at our own Charge, cause a convenient Church to be built with stone or other Solid Materials to their own good liking …and the said Governor and Company will also allow fifty Pounds per annum during the space of Seven Years for the maintenance of such Priest or Minister as they shall choose to officiate therein.”

Caption: “Agreement with the Armenian Merchants granting them certain privileges of Trade and residence in India dated 22 June 1688”

BL IOR H 634, folios 581-599. Courtesy of the British Library.

The construction of an Armenian church in Madras would have to date after the signing of this agreement. The earliest reference to a church of this type either in the company’s records or in the copious travel literature on the city appears to be Thomas Salmon’s brief description of Madras which dates to the 1699-1700 period where the author notes: “In this Black town stands an Armenian church and severall [sic] little Pagoda’s [sic] or Indian temples.” (See discussion in Henry Davison Love, Vestiges of Old Madras, 1640-1800, vol. 2, 75)

The reference by Salmon might be to an Armenian church in another part of Madras’s “Black Town,” where Armenian, Portuguese, Jewish, and Indian communities of merchants had been settled. The 1712 church with a “high” and “magnificent” edifice that according to Seth the Armenians were “obliged to desert” was probably located in the place (today’s Armenian Street) where in 1772 the present church was built. However, it is almost certain that it was built and consecrated as Saint Mary’s Church [Surb Astuatsatsin] before 1712 and more than likely around 1707. This is purely a hypothesis on my part but one based on some detective-like thinking and circumstantial evidence such as the heretofore never before seen letter I chanced upon in the personal correspondence of the governor of Fort Saint George [i.e., Madras], Sir Thomas Pitt also known as “Diamond Pitt” due to his interest in the diamond mines at Golconda not too far from Madras. This short and beautifully adorned letter from the Primate of New Julfa, Movses Vardapet, was written to Pitt in May of 1709 and thanks the governor for being present at the consecration of Madras’s recently built (նորաշէն) Armenian church of Saint Mary. Since Movses says he heard of the governor’s presence, with his Council, at the church opening from the Armenian head priest in Madras named Ter Avet (whose letters from the period are in the All Savior’s Archive and also in my digital collection), we must conclude that the church must have been consecrated only about two years before Movses’s letter, that is circa 1707 and not 1712 as conventional wisdom would have it. Letters from Madras to Isfahan usually took three months to reach their destination but could take up to a whole year if they were not sent “express.” This means that the consecration date for the church occurred sometime in the two years before Movses Vardapet wrote his “thank you note” to the governor. Below is my provisional transcription and translation of this document which had been misfiled in the British Library Catalogue. It took me a while to track it down in “Dropmore Papers” Additional Manuscripts (ADD) 59481, folio 135.

Thomas “Diamond” Pitt (Governor of Madras 1698-1709)

Քրիստոստի նուաստ ծառայ Մովսէս վարդապէտ որ եւ շնորհօքն աստուծոյ Արք Եպիսկոպոս, մայրաքաղաքիս իսպահանու զետեղեալ քրիստոնէից. Նա եւ ընդ մէզ եղեալ եպիսկոպոսաց. վարդապետաց. եւ քահանայից. որ միշտ հայցեմք ՚ի քրիստոսէ. փրկչէն մերմէ զի մեծապատիւ աղայդ զխոհեմ եւ զխորհրդական. հեզ եւ խորհրդագէտ. հանճարեղ եւ գիտնական. իշխան եւ իշխեզող մադրասու եղեալ … վերոյ գրեալ բարեհամբաւ պարոնաց պարոնիդ. գերամեծար պետիդ հնազանդելոց։

Եւ ընդ փոքրիկ նամակաւս հարցումն առնեմք զմեծութենէ պատուական աղայիդ զոր եւ քրիստոսիւ միշտ լսեմք զբարեբարոյյութեանէ մեծութեանդ այսինքն ՚ի մերայնոց ազանց. եւ մանաւանդ զսէրն որ ունիս առ ՚ի մերայինս զոր եւ մեր որդի Տէր աւէտ քահանայն տեղացդ այլ գրեալէր մեզ թէ մէծացոյն իշխանն, իւր օրհնեալ կօնսէլովն էրէկ մեր նորաշէն եկեղեցոյ օրհնութի[ւն] ետես. եւթէ ուրախութի[ւն] եւս արար, ՚ի սէր անուն սուրբ աստուածածնի շինեալ նորաշէն եկեղեցւոյն մերոյ զոր եւ մեր ընթերցեալ զգրեալսն ՚ի տէր աւետէն մերմէ օրհնեցաք եւ օրհնեմք զքրիստոսասէր իշխանդ, եւ զբարձր թագրաւորութի[ւն] [sic] մեծութեան ձերոյ պահեսցէ զազատագոյն եւ պերճապատիւ իշխանդ յամերամ ժամանօք եւ պարագայծ ամօք [for many years] մինչ ՚ի խորին ծերութիւն. հոգւով եւ մարմնով ուստերօք եւ դստերօք եւ ամենայն ընտանեօք, սիրելեօք եւ բարեկամօք Ամէն։ Այլ եւ գլուխն ամենեցուն քրիստոս աստուած մեր. պահեսցէ անդրդուելի կենօք [firm or strong life] եւ անխրով խաղաղութեամբ զիմաստուն եւ փառաւոր իշխանդ մեր. անգայթակղ եւ անտրտում քաղաքավարութեամբ, եւ զամենայն աւուրս կենացդ անվնաս անցուցանիցես ցնծութեամբ եւ ուրախութեամբ Ամէն

Գրեցաւ ՚ի թիւն փրկչին մերոյ.
ռէճթ Յամսեանն մայիսի ժէ
իսպահան քաղաքի ՚ի ս[ուր]բ ուխտս
Ամենափրկչի։

In the Name of God [Jehova]
To Agent Pitch [sic?] Governor,

From the humble servant of Christ, Movses the Archimandrite who is by the grace of God archbishop of the Christians who reside in this metropolis of Isfahan and who along with the bishops, archimandrites, and priests who are at present with us are always beseeching Christ our Savior and praying for the welfare of your honorable lordship who are prudent, gentle, judicious, of rare talent, sovereign, and governor. And with this brief letter we [wish to] ask about the welfare of your honorable lordship whose greatness and kindness towards everyone and especially your love for those of our nation we always hear from [our merchants who are in those parts]. Our son Ter Avet, the priest there, had [recently] written to us that your great lordship with your blessed council had come to our newly built church to witness its consecration. And we were so pleased upon reading what Ter Avet had written of your love for our newly built church named after Mary the Mother of God that that we praised and continue to praise you and pray that God may preserve your High Majesty and Christ-loving prince in your greatness and safeguard your most-free and honorable prince in both spirit and body, with sons and daughters, and your entire family and all your loved ones for many years and at all times until you reach a ripeness of age, Amen. And moreover, may the ruler of all, Christ our God, sustain our wise and glorious prince in his resolute life (անդրդուելի կենօք) with undisturbed tranquility in a state of felicitous government without hindrance, so that you may pass all the days of your life aloof from harm and in happiness and joy, Amen.

Written in the year of our savior
1709 in the month of May 17
In the City of Ispahan at the Convent
of All Saviors.


DIOCESAN HEADQUARTERS

The Cathedral of Saint George (Surb Gevorg) in Tbilisi is the Headquarters of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia since the 13 th century. It was built in 1251. The Headquarters of the Diocese presides over the caring life of the Armenian population of Georgia, promotes the concentration of the Armenian community in Georgia around the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church, organizes educational, scholastic, informative, cultural, youth events for the preservation of the Armenian identity, national ethics, morals and values, proper celebrations all the rituals of Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church.

The Headquarters of the Diocese presides over the activities of Diocesan churches, monasteries and chapels throughout Georgia, as well as manages various educational, scientific, scholastic, informative, and cultural sports, youth and children’s centers (more you can see in the Departments, Centers section of the website).

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia closely cooperates with the State Agency for Religious Affairs in Georgia, the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Georgia, the relevant institutions and Ministry of the Diaspora, Culture, Education, Science, Sports, and Youth of Armenian, as well as with several religious, social, scientific and cultural organizations and unions, both in Georgia and abroad. The respected partners of the Diocesan are “Calouste Gulbenkian” Foundation and “Vartan Jinishian” Memorial Foundation.

Brife HISTORY OF THE DIOCESE OF THE Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia

According to historical sources, the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia as a separate ecclesiastical unit has existed since the 5 th century. The 10 th century Armenian historian Ukhtanes of Sebastia proves this statement. In his book “History in Three Parts”, in the chapter “History of the Severance of the Georgians and Armenians”, the famous historian declares that already in the 5 th century there was an official residence of the Armenian Bishop in Tsurtavi. It is remarkable that, even though Tsurtavi region belonged to the Georgian Church, there was an Armenian Diocese there, where from the 5 th century by the directive of Saint Shushanik the church ceremonies were conducted in Armenian.

At the same time, it should be mentioned, that according to the 12 th century Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa, the greatest Georgian King David the Builder (1089-1125) granted the Highest Status to the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia, the administrative center of which was in Tbilisi. It is assumed that the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia was officially founded in the 12 th century itself in Tbilisi. Since the 13 th century, the Cathedral of Saint George (Surb Gevorg) in Tbilisi declared to be the seat of the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia.

In July 2011, the Georgian parliament passed a law allowing religious communities in Georgia to receive Special Status. Based on that law, on March 12, 2012, the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia is registered in the Public Registry of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia as a legal entity under Public Law.

As of today, the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia has 27 clergies and 63 active churches and chapels in the whole territory of Georgia, including the Vicariate of Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tsalka as well.


History

Church St. or Holy Cross Nshan Signs - trehaltarny Armenian church, whose construction was begun tanuterom Bebutyanom Amir and his son Aslamazov in 1701.


S. Nshan hard to miss, given that it is located in the center, in a densely populated quarter of the old town, near the area of ​​Hercules at the crossroads of ancient narrow streets of Silver and Akopian. The church is considered one of the most remarkable of Armenian kultovyx structures, combining elements of traditional Armenian decorative as well as east.

The main church ktitorskaya inscription reads: "Jesus Christ, the grace of the Holy Spirit committed the foundation and construction of this church Surb in the summer of 1152 (the Armenian chronology - Pandukht) in the reign of Levan Khan and his sons, the lord of the patriarchate Nahapetov» (1691-1705 - Pandukht .)

In 1720, when the inscription carved, was brought to the construction of the dome and, as is clear from the record in the synodic, the church for 50 years remained without a dome, built in the future. However, in 1763 in "Dzhambre" Catholicos Simeon Yerevantsi it is mentioned among the seven major churches of Tiflis. See the church was celebrated on the third day of Easter, in ancient times it was kept a particle of the skull of St. Andrew.


At the beginning of the XVIII century Tbilisi remained multi-ethnic city with an original local color, which was felt as the cultural traditions of the Christian nations, the Persians and Muslims. Therefore, the facades of Armenian churches in Tbilisi at the time the application is characteristic elements of Persian decorative arts. The facades of churches were decorated with lancet arches, domes drums decorated with glazed tiles. Here's what he wrote about the church Georgian historian Ioseliani:

"S. Nshan available to her epigraphic inscriptions of the Armenian, was erected in the reign of Leon, the father of Vakhtang VI, in 1701. Re-erected in 1703, 1789, 1868, respectively. The church is excellent, with a dome, was erected in honor of St. Nicholas, rests on four pillars. The dome is covered with its green bricks, and the church itself, and the arches - roof tiles. There are three choir: medium - large - in honor of St. Nicholas, the north - in honor of St. Andrew and the south - in honor of St. George. There are many different images of St. Nicholas, a very great . "

The history of the construction, upgrades and alterations posleduyuschix described in detail in soxranivsheysya nashix days before the monument of epigraphy. In the enclosure of the church there were many epitaphs, most of which were either destroyed or had been closed late residential outbuildings. Survived only those that were located in close proximity to the walls of the church, or preserved in the form of tombstones, which are attached to the church wall.

For more information about the history of work related to the church, we learn from Mr. Aganyantsa. Here are some of them:

"It was built tanuterom Amir and his son Aslamazov, then restored in 1703 melik Giorgi, yeah Megrap Sharipekyan built a dome in 1784."

"Tanuter Amir and his son built a church Aslamazov Surb with its porch and the fence. Belfry Surb and cells based on the means Parhudara Khoja and his wife Darejan. "

"Tanuter Aslamazov and his wife Shahruban renewed church."

"Melik Giorgi newly constructed and renovated from the ground, raised arched and beautiful composition of the church Surb in 1703, was dedicated in 1741 and served the service, and in the same year he died Melik Giorgi."

"Melik Giorgi, wife and sons Hampervan Zurap and Dad built a brick factory and gave the church."

"Tanuter Giorgi moved the fence of the church."

"In 1719 a daughter Parhudara Eagund upgraded tower built by his father."

"Paron Perihan built iconostasis of the church."

"Master Jacob Bana in the construction of the church gave her his apprentice named Sargis, in order to serve one year giving the church a liter of oil and a wax charek."

"Hozoents Arakel for the church bought a place in the cell, and a cemetery."

"The priest Ter-Nikogos Avak updated entry new church hewn stone."

"The sons of Murad Alaguluntsa Martiros and Panos have built a large porch door."

The exceptional importance, and the inscriptions on the walls of the church. Here is fragments of inscriptions carved on the north entrance (complete, it consists of 13 lines): "I, Giorgi Melik, the son of tanutera Aslamazov, built this temple, dedicated to St. Nicholas, in memory of me and my parents, my brothers and my wife Hampervan, sons my - Zurapa and Dad, my daughters and my indefatigable priest Ter-Movses. And I melik Giorgi, paid the entire cost of this [building] in the 1169-m (Armenian chronology - Pandukht) year. Left dome - in an indelible memory of those who [his] complete. "

All mentioned in written sources and lapidary tanutery - Amir, Aslamazov and Giorgi - inherited by the mayor took office in Tiflis, and belonged to the genus Bebutyanov.

Of value and the inscription, announcing the construction and restoration of the Dome (1780), doors (1781), new doors (1833), the chapel (it is the south entrance in 1861). In 1868 it was restored and made cross-stone whitewashed interior.

In Soviet times the church was used in different ways. During the war there was a warehouse of pasta. Then - the stacks of the Georgian National Library for the most part it was stored pre-Soviet Armenia, as well as Russian and German periodicals.

Gradually the Church of St. Nshan declined. The newspaper "Voice of Armenia" in its issue of September 26, 1998 wrote: "Today, the church in disrepair, broken entrance on the north side, but, as usual, and the Armenian community and the diocese did not take any action. Recently, a group of people, provide the staff of the Society for the Protection of Monuments, filed an ultimatum to the inhabitants of the court, if the Armenians during the month do not take action, the church will go to the Diocese of Georgia. "

Narrated by actor, director and playwright Thank Stepanian:

"The Church of St. Nshan - it's stunning beauty of the monument. When I once read "Wave of happiness" Zurabyan, I realized that there is a mural painter of the kind Ovnatanyanov. And I always thought - ever open that door for me to see the frescoes. The church was closed at all times. Beside acting Georgian church, and about St. Nshan we were told that there are many books and it is used as a book depository.

One day pass - the doors are open. It was the second half of the '90s. Straight back, and what I see - in the woods there are two workers with the Georgians, chisels in hand and knock these frescoes. You can not look at this barbarity - no matter Hovnatanian there or not. At a minimum, you - a Christian. Brother, what are you doing? Not to mention the fact that it is a historical monument. I asked, "What are you doing?" - "What are you doing here, an Armenian? - Answer me very roughly. - Come, come, this is not your place. " We went down and came at me with their hammers. I went out, found a Georgian priest. "Holy Father, you know what's going on?" - "This is not your space, please release". The only thing I could do - to call the chairman of the Union of Armenians of Georgia G. Muradyan. He rushes back to the car - looks, makes sure that happens. To solve the issue could not, until he turned to the Catholicos Vazgen. Vazgen appealed to the Georgian Patriarch Ilia - everything stops, the doors are closed and the matter is still unresolved. What's inside, nobody knows. "

In the church, abandoned for decades without the slightest repair and supervision, October 20, 2002 there was a large fire, which firefighters extinguished a few calculations. The version of the electrical fault was immediately swept away, as the voltage is here no longer served. According to the Georgian law enforcement agencies and the church which was in its periodicals were burned because of careless children playing with matches. In a not too hard to believe, given that the fire started at 3:00 am.

So burned the Armenian St. Nshan - the temple, whose walls have many years of service have not heard the sounds. Literature was in so much that the entire floor was covered with a spacious half-meter layer of the Church of the ash. However, a fire engulfed not only the book. Fresco artists were Ovnatanyanov pokorezheny and lost its original appearance. Unfortunately, under the action of fire all the plaster and the whole top layer of fresco crumbled, leading to their death. And because the church was closed permanently, they could not in time to photograph and perpetuate. As a result, the walls were only traces of the flames, and over his head - the blackened dome.

The fire actually put an end to the destruction of the historical monument, the temple turned into ruins, and bad people turned it into a latrine. Destroyed the church yard, the neighborhood, which in some ways has already merged with housing court. Near the entrance to St. Nshan a sign that says only the name of the church, and nothing else. The walls of the entrance on the verge of collapse and tombstones at the entrance covered with a wooden supports.

S. Nshan was large and spacious church, but now located between the half-ruined houses, narrow streets and old houses, wounded by fire, it produces a feeling of depression. When a walk around the building in memory of the picture emerge unwittingly ruined churches and cross stones of Western Armenia, which served as the local population the usual building material. And that does not damage the fire, destroying the time and "neighbors". People living neighborhood, so enthusiastic about the erection of outbuildings around the church, it seems that she did not have any relationship with God.

And it is in Georgia, where the people with great trepidation relates to their own churches. It's hard to explain, especially bearing in mind that the Georgian Orthodox Church is trying to present S. Nshan precisely as the Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas. Thus, it is argued (as usual, the most impressive phrases marked me - Pandukht), that "St. Nshan was not built in the XVIII century, as the inscription, and in the XVI-th, and until the middle of the XIX century there was a Georgian church. Then the local Armenians cleaned it up to him for debt. "

"We need to think, and rightly so, that, according to the ancient Georgian tradition, the name of Saint Nikoloz preserved in the name of the native Georgian, but facing the Armenian Church of St. Nshan. Much before the 1700s, this Georgian church was a chapel, but during the hard times passed into the hands of Armenians. For whatever reason this happened is hard to say, but, despite Armenian inscription ktitorskuyu 1703, for its re-erection took one melik Kiork. And still some work previously performed as the father melik Kiorka Aslamazov Amir and his grandfather. Because of their official position (they were Mamasakhlisi - Elder), they were easy to acquire the remainder of the Georgian church unattended. Although it is possible even earlier assignment. "

One gets the feeling that the Armenians in Tiflis built their church in Georgian ruins: that if they did not have enough space, whether contemporary Georgian "historians" do not have enough imagination. Still more second. In addition, it became "a tradition" that the Georgian side of their claims on the Armenian heritage is not backed up either by a single archival document.


Recovering Hidden History Along the Armenian-Turkish Border

Two female photographers — one Armenian, one Turkish — worked together to document life on both sides of the border, focusing on Armenians living in hiding.

In a handful of villages along the Turkish side of the border with Armenia, neighbors reported a strange occurrence in 2015. Like an apparition, an unlikely pair of women — Anahit Hayrapetyan, an Armenian Christian, and Serra Akcan, a Muslim from Turkey, traveled through the region without men but with cameras, dredging up uncomfortable century-old secrets.

The women were searching for “hidden Armenians,” whose Christian ancestors survived what historians consider to be a genocide by the Ottoman Empire, starting in 1915, in which nearly 1.5 million Armenians died. The Turkish government rejects the term genocide.

These hidden Armenians whom the photographers sought are descendants of survivors, who were mostly women and children taken in by local Kurdish, Turkish and Arab families, and converted to Islam. In some of the more remote villages in Turkey that Ms. Hayrapetyan and Ms. Akcan visited, the ethnic and religious background of these Armenians were concealed out of fear of reprisal from their neighbors. Parents rarely informed children of their Armenian heritage, with many even avoiding the spoken language so children would not pick it up and discover their ancestry.

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Ms. Akcan and Ms. Hayrapetyan met in 2006 when they participated in a project between Armenian and Turkish photographers and found that they had much in common. As two female photographers trying to work in patriarchal societies, they became close friends and often leaned on each other for emotional support in their careers.

In 2009, they decided to work together to document Armenian and Turkish life on both sides of the border, and over the next eight years photographed in the villages and towns along it. At times, Ms. Hayrapetyan carried the youngest of her three children with her.

Though the presence of an Armenian woman on the Turkish side of the border, or a Turkish woman on the Armenian side created difficulties for the photographers, Ms. Akcan said, it was important that they work together.

“We are doing this project because we want to change the single most accepted thing in Armenia and Turkey — that the Armenian and Turkish people are enemies,” she said. “So by working together, people start to see that we can be friends — that we can be sisters.”

Ms. Hayrapetyan, a co-founder of 4Plus, a collective of Armenian women photographers, said that they “never hid that Serra is Turkish or that I’m Armenian” while working.

“It made things more difficult, but much more honest, or deep,” she said, “because families knew what the story we were working on was about.”

When they started the project about life on both sides of the border they did not know much about the Armenians living in hiding in the Kurdish and Arab villages on the Turkish side, but as they worked they began to hear more about them. So in 2015, Ms. Akcan and Ms. Hayrapetyan turned to finding, interviewing and photographing them.

Their experiences varied, often village by village. In Kurdish areas it was often easier for the Armenians to talk, Ms. Hayrapetyan said, because the Kurdish people “are going through their own difficult times with the government,” and “facing the past, saying that they had a role in the genocide too, and apologizing.”

Many of the hidden Armenians said they did not know of their background until recently. One man described to them secretly following his grandmother after she said she was going to pick herbs in nearby hills. He discovered her praying in the ruins of an Armenian Christian church in a language he did not understand.

It was a story with particular resonance for Ms. Akcan, because when she was 30 she learned she had a secret connection to the genocide, which her father never told her. Her father’s grandmother was an Armenian, and was discovered hiding in a family garden in eastern Turkey in 1915 or 1916 when she was a teenager. She was taken in by the family and converted to Islam, later falling in love and marrying the oldest son. A few years later, Ms. Akcan’s grandfather was born.

Once history is forgotten it is difficult to recover again, Ms. Hayrapetyan noted, and many people in Turkey, including in the government, deny that the events that led to the deaths of over a million Armenians between 1915 and 1921 ever happened.

“Maybe 100 years from now some people will insist that there was no Syrian war,” she said. “And many will write that there was no Armenian genocide. It’s a game of big countries, and Armenia is a small country with no power. This is how the world is. That’s why we find it important to gather these stories of these people.”


UNCOVERING AZERBAIJAN’S COVERT CAMPAIGN OF CULTURAL CLEANSING AGAINST ARMENIA

An in-depth report published earlier this year at Hyperallergic reveals a harrowing assault on Armenian relics, carried out by Azerbaijan’s government from 1997 to 2006. The report tracks Azerbaijan’s destruction of 89 medieval churches, 5,840 intricate cross-stones, and 22,000 tombstones. This column will present, and explain those findings.

MONUMENTAL CRIMES

One of the well-reported and documented crimes of ISIS was the terrorist organization’s systemic and targeted demolition and campaign of cultural cleansing of historical vestiges throughout Syria and Iraq – sites sacred to Muslims, Jews, Christians, Yazidi Kurds, and others alike – amid their murderous rampage through the area.

According to Marina Gabriel, a coordinator at the American Schools of Oriental Research Cultural Heritage Initiatives (ASOR CHI), the trail of destruction left by ISIS is “almost unprecedented in recent history, and is particularly devastating for a region with extensive history that has impacted the world.”

WORSE THAN ISIS?

While almost unprecedented, it is preceded by a much lesser-known cultural erasure of 89 churches, 5,840 ornate cross-stones, 22,000 tombstones, and other artifacts, sanctioned by the oil-rich regime in post-Soviet Azerbaijan. The fault of these medieval Christian monuments was that they were proof of the rich indigenous Armenian heritage of a once fought over territory that is now an exclave – courtesy of a 1921 Turkish-Soviet treaty – of Azerbaijan. That region, nestled between Armenia and Iran and bordering Turkey, is called Nakhichevan.

Unlike the monuments destroyed by ISIS, however, not even dust remains of the Armenian sacred sites of Nakhichevan. The details of this elegiac, inhumane crime have been exposed in a groundbreaking Hyperallergic report – bolstered by the UK Guardian – by Denver-based political analyst Simon Maghakyan and Yale-trained historian Sarah Pickman. Azerbaijan has not only erased those monuments, but also claims that they never existed to begin with. After all, the regime absurdly claims that Armenians did not live in the region in medieval times.

Surb Karapet (Holy Precursor Church) in Abrakunis, a major center of medieval Armenian theology (© Argam Ayvazyan archives, 1970-1981) Figure 2: The flattened site where Surb Karapet previously stood, as of August 2005 in Abrakunis (today Əbrəqunus) (courtesy Steven Sim)

Before delving into the details of Azerbaijan’s 1997-2006 – near-decade long – perpetration of cultural genocide, the secret erasure of 28,000 medieval Armenian monuments, it’s imperative to understand the deep-seated Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in its entirety. Its roots run deep, writhing through Soviet history, and are deeply entrenched in a territorial conflict over another region, Artsakh, which is better known by its Russian-Persian name of Nagorno-Karabakh.

THE ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI CONFLICT

Figure 3: A map of Nakhichevan and the surrounding region (courtesy Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum | Djulfa.com)

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh dates back to the demise of the Russian Empire in the early days of the Russian Revolution and the Sovietization of the South Caucasus. Shortly after the uprising that ousted the Tsar, the ephemeral Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic was established. Brimming with internal conflicts, it soon dissolved and separated into the Democratic Republic of Georgia, the Democratic Republic of Armenia, and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

Three historically Armenian regions in this area (which had also become home to large Azeri populations following nomadic Turkic conquests of the Armenian homeland) – Nagorno-Karabakh, Nakhichevan, and Zangezur – were host to a slew of battles between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the next two years, 1918 through 1920.

After forced Sovietization, Zangezur remained within Soviet Armenia, but Nakhichevan and Nagorno-Karabakh were placed under Soviet Azerbaijan as “autonomous oblasts.” It is often said that this was part of Joseph Stalin’s divide and conquer strategy. However, other scholars claim that the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan to Soviet Azerbaijan recognized the political realities of the day: Turkey, having committed the Armenian Genocide and hell-bent on further weakening what was left of Armenia, was pressuring the Soviets to be generous to Turkey’s co-ethnolinguistic Azerbaijan. Others say that the Soviets favored Azerbaijan’s oil reserves over Armenians’ ancient presence and rich history in the South Caucasus.

For the next few decades, tensions between the Soviet states of Armenia and Azerbaijan quelled, freezing to a standstill under the hard chill of Moscow rule. However, as the Iron Curtain began to dwindle and weather in the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, contention over Nagorno-Karabakh began to thaw, reemerging with intense ferocity.

Throughout its Soviet epoch, Nagorno-Karabakh maintained a majority Armenian population, while Nakhichevan’s diminished as aggressive Azeri policies cleansed the region of its indigenous Christian inhabitants (40% in 1914 down to a paltry 1.4% by 1979 today the number of Armenians in Nakhichevan is zero).

Fearing the fate of Nakhichevan’s Armenian denizens, Nagorno-Karabakh pursued confederacy with Soviet Armenia in 1988. However, under Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s rigid policies, the region descended into chaos as war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

When, just three years later, in 1991, the Soviet Union finally collapsed under its own weight, and Armenia and Azerbaijan emerged as newly independent states, tensions between the belligerents escalated. Armenia-backed Nagorno-Karabakh (which the native Armenian inhabitants call Artsakh) was up against an Azerbaijan aided by mercenaries and volunteers from its Muslim-majority compatriots, Afghanistan and Chechnya, and heavily supported by Turkey, which some believe had a plan of attacking Armenia in 1993.

After consuming tens of thousands of lives on both sides, and uprooting many more, a cease-fire, intermediated by Russia, was successfully negotiated in May of 1994. Armenians miraculously won the war – which some attribute to the specter of yet another Armenian Genocide hanging above their heads. Artsakh not only became a de-facto republic, but gained a large “buffer zone” territory that was not part of its Soviet boundaries.

The humiliating defeat of Azerbaijan might have been one of the reasons why its leadership decided to perpetrate the Cultural Genocide in Nakhichevan.

Maghakyan and Pickman present a detailed investigation into this destruction, including recounting Soviet-era documentary efforts of the existing monuments, eyewitness testimony of the post-Soviet erasure, satellite data, and even Azerbaijani governmental documents that implicitly acknowledge the wipeout of Nakhichevan’s ancient Armenian past.

DOCUMENTING THE DESTRUCTION

Today, tourists vying to visit historical vestiges in post-Soviet Nakhichevan will be dismayed to find the land stripped clean and excavated of its Armenian roots and heritage sites in a fashion harking back to Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge, in which whole swaths of documents and photographs were meticulously edited to wipe out inconvenient facets of history. Only here, the victims of historical revisionism aren’t photos and papers, they are sculpted stones and grand churches dating back thousands of years.

Predicting the inevitable demise of Armenian relics throughout Azerbaijani occupied Nakhichevan, an Armenia-based researcher, Argam Ayvazyan, spent more than two decades, from 1964 to 1987, amassing a trove of documentation, enough to fill the crevices of 200 published articles and 40 books, on the region’s intrinsic Armenian roots.

By the time the ‘90s rolled around, marked by the fall of the Berlin Wall and demise of the Soviet Union more broadly, Ayvazyan had documented 89 Armenian churches and 5,840 ornate “khachakars” (the Armenian word for ancient slabs of stone bearing a hand-carved cross, abound with intricate decals) and 22,000 horizontal tombstones, among other Armenian monuments.

Fast-forward to the turn of the millennium, and the cultural artifacts archived by Ayvazyan all but disappeared under the heel of Azerbaijani occupation. When, in 2005, a Scottish researcher, Steven Sim, traveled to Nakhichevan intent on assessing the grand churches captured in the work of Ayvazyan, he instead found vacant lots and scant tumbleweeds amid the arid land. Azerbaijani state police, parroting propaganda, explained to him, as quoted in Hyperallergic, “Armenians came here and took photographs … then went back to their country and inserted into them photographs of churches in Armenia … There were no Armenians ever living here – so how could there have been churches here?”

The only historical remnants Sim was able to find, were toppled headstones in an ancient cemetery in what had been the city of (Old) Julfa in the medieval era. They had only survived due to their location, being within a stone’s throw of Nakhichevan’s international border with Iran. But even this internationally-renowned cemetery, which was considered the largest medieval Armenian necropolis, was not spared.

Figure 4: Northern Iran’s late Armenian Prelate prays tearfully in the foreground of the Djulfa cemetery as Azerbaijani soldiers across the River Araxes (the natural international border between modern Azerbaijan and Iran) destroy its remaining 2,000 medieval khachkars in December 2005 (courtesy Djulfa Virtual Memorial and Museum | Djulfa.com)

Mere months later, the Armenian Church in Northern Iran – near the border with Azerbaijani occupied Nakhichevan – was alerted of a military attack on the Julfa cemetery, visible across the border. Armenian Bishop Nshan Topouzian and his driver were able to film a mob of over 100 Azerbaijani soldiers hoisting sledgehammers and operating dump trucks and cranes destroying the historic cemetery’s final remnants: 2,000 “khachkars” – more than a thousand had already been destroyed within the last few years.

The cemetery in Julfa was the final, major Armenian site in Nakhichevan to be razed. In the Azerbaijani crusade against Nakhichevan’s Armenian ties, nothing remained. Between 1997 and 2006, the Government of Azerbaijan eradicated every material trace of ancient Armenian heritage in the previously-disputed region of Nakhichevan, including 89 medieval churches, 5,840 intricately-carved cross-stones, and 22,000 tombstones.

Figure 5: Some of Djulfa’s thousands of khachkars before their destruction, the majority of which were erected in the 16th century (© Argam Ayvazyan archives, 1970-1981)

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conducted a geospatial study in 2010, which concluded that, “satellite evidence is consistent with reports by observers on the ground who have reported the destruction of Armenian artifacts in the Djulfa cemetery.”

Figure 6: Satellite images showing the complete disappearance of the medieval cemetery of historic Djulfa (in Armenian, Jugha) nearby what is today the Azerbaijani village Gülüstan in Nakhichevan’s Culfa (Julfa) region. Close-up of the southwestern portion of the cemetery clearly shows the extent to which the area has been scoured. Upper image from 2003 lower image from 2009 (courtesy the American Association for the Advancement of Science / Digital Globe)

Despite vehement denial of perpetrating cultural genocide against Nakhichevan’s Armenian heritage, Azerbaijan’s own government is host to some of the strongest evidence of their war crimes. Maghakyan and Pickman unearth previously-unknown evidence from official Azerbaijani sources. In the days leading up to Julfa’s demolition, the Azeri autocrat of Nakhichevan, Vasif Talibov, ordered a detailed inventory of the region’s monuments. When the investigation was finished, the resulting 522-page English/Azerbaijani bilingual report omitted spates of historic Armenian vestiges which, in previous government data, prior to demolishing them, had acknowledged.

Today, the sole extant speckle of Christian heritage in Nakhichevan is the former St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church, built in 1862 by an Armenian clan. According to Azerbaijani authorities, it is known as the “Ordubad Temple.” The temple serves two purposes for Azerbaijan: (1) a museum to display photos of Islamic monuments, and (2) a façade draped over the Azeri government’s morbid erasure of Armenian culture, wielded by its state media to posture Azerbaijan’s ostensible tolerance and “multiculturalism.”

What Armenian remnants survived the Azerbaijani’s campaign of cultural genocide, the Azeri government re-branded as “ancient Azerbaijani” relics. As one example, in 2009, Nakhichevan’s Azeri officials boasted a new Islamic sepulcher as, “the restored 8th-century grave monument of the Prophet Noah.” It was, however, once an Armenia tomb in an Armenian cemetery in an Armenian land.

TURKEY’S SUPPORT

Paralleling Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian genocide – where, aside from massacring 1.5 million Armenians, the Ottoman Turks laid waste to over 2,538 Armenian churches and 451 monasteries – Azerbaijan’s autocratic regime fervently denies not only its systematic and complete destruction of Armenian monuments, but rubbing salt on an open wound, denies their very existence.

Turkey’s ties to the hemorrhaging of Armenian history don’t end there. Under the 1921 Turkish-Soviet treaty, Turkey is the protectorate of Nakhichevan. It is widely accepted that Turkey – which, unlike mainland Azerbaijan, has a border with Nakhichevan – supplies the latter with its entire military arsenal.

Albeit never officially confirmed, it stands to reason that Turkey provided the anti-tank mines to blow up all surviving 89 medieval Armenian cathedrals in Nakhichevan between 1996 and 2007.

While Turkey’s siege on Armenian churches and landmarks in the 1915 genocide far exceeds Azerbaijan’s in sheer numbers, traces and recognizable ruins of Armenia’s rich history have endured in Eastern Turkey (what used to be Western Armenia). However, under Azerbaijani occupation, Nakhichevan has been entirely bifurcated from its deep, historical ties to Armenia, which, sanctioned by Azerbaijan, have been forever destroyed.


Armenian Inscription in Surb Karapet Church - History


[1] Zenob was abbot of Glak monastery for 20 years.

After [Zenob] was Epip'an, the student of Anton, who ruled for 30 years. In his 10th year, St. Gregory came to Glak monastery and remained with Anton and Kronides on Aweteac' hill for 4 months. But they removed him from the place, saying: "Go to some uninhabited place in the wilderness, so that no one will glorify your sanctity." So he went to Maneay cave and lived there for 7 years, and passed from this life to the glory of God.

Then his student Step'anos directed the monastery for 15 years. In his 4th year, the holy Anton died, and two months later blessed Kronides, having dwelled 40 years in the place called Innaknean [Nine Springs]. He is buried not far from the church on the south side. It was he who built the church where the relics of St. Gregory are kept, on the other side of Kuarhac', by the gushing spring [g7]. There he established 60 clerics of angelic behavior.

[2] Ep'rem ruled 28 years.
Yovhannes, 10 years. He lived in the time of St. Sahak.
Ghimindos, 10 years.
Markos, 18 years.
Kiwregh, 22 years. He was the first bishop ordained by the Armenian kat'oghikos, Yovhann Mandakuni.
Grigor, 6 years.

Andreas, 11 years. [It was Andreas who went with the Armenian kat'oghikos, Vardan, to a meeting of the Byzantines at which all the Armenians, Iberians/Georgians and Greeks with the emperor Zeno confessed Christ of One Nature. YM p. 8 n.3 in 3 mss.]

Nerses, 7 years.
Yovhannes, 3 years.
Sahak, 5 years.
Yovsep', 6 years.
Bart'oghimeos, 4 years.

At'anas, 10 years. It was At'anas who, in the time of the Armenian kat'oghikos Movses, devised the calendar, at Movses' command, in the city of Duin, for he was familiar with the calendars of all peoples.

Komitas, 8 years. He went to the Iberian/Georgian kat'oghikos from the Armenian kat'oghikos Abraham to create unity.

Step'annos, 6 years. During the time of the Armenian kat'oghikos Komitas, Step' annos went to him and brought some relics of the [3] holy Hrhip'simeans and placed them in Glak monastery where he himself was. Komitas had [re]built the chapel of the blessed Hrhip'simeans [g8].

T'adeos [T'odik], 30 years. He received virtue in his childhood, and was a student of Barsegh, becoming dear to him (on account of his conduct), and to Mushegh, prince of the Mamikoneans, who increased his holdings with many dastakerts. He established many clerics in Glak monastery, hermits who ate but once a day, and lived alone, 388 of them.

In his time four men arrived from Byzantium, men who were hermits and herb eaters, and opposed to any pleasures of the flesh. They wished to continue on to Sukaw mountain, and once they had come to that place they desired to dwell in the retreat. After they had been there for 2 years, some three other men from Sagastan heard about [them]. Arriving at that very place, Glak, and meeting each other, they stayed in the same place. Some remained at Innaknean, on Aweteac' hill, and others in the caves which were to the southeast of the hidden Cross. Others went to the forested hills. They stayed for a long time, 20 years, practising their discipline.

[4] Now in the time of the rule as prince of Mushegh Mamikonean, and during T'odik's directorship of the monastery, marvellous deeds were performed at Glak, at the church of St. Karapet. The prince of the Arcrunik', who was named Vard patrik, had built many churches and monasteries. He had a pious wife named Mariam. Since he was going to Caesarea, he brought his wife to her father, Mushegh. He left his wife there, entrusted the district to others of the azats, and departed. Now since his wife [Mariam] was very desirous of seeing [g9] the holy men attached to Glak monastery and the congregation of Karapet, one day she came with great enthusiasm to the church of Karapet bringing along her first-born son, a small suckling child. Many times she beseeched the clerics to allow her to enter the church, but the attendants prevented her. However [the cleric] Step'annos took the small child in his arms, brought him before the altar, had him worship the Lord, and then brought him back and gave him to his mother. Now [Mariam] took the child and began to weep, saying:

Saying this the woman took out numerous fragrant incenses and gave them to the attendants, and she gave much treasure for the needs of the church. She sent a message to father T'odik to accept the goods and to let her inside. But T'odik said:

[6] As soon as she went out, the church attendants became annoyed, resentful and very chagrined because of her act, and they did not prepare food for the woman. But Mariam ordered her servants to make a meal for the clerics and to call them all to table. There were 395 men. When they had dined the woman said: "Oh lovers of holiness and zealots of divine service, rejoice with me in the Lord, for He forgave me and fulfilled the desire of my heart. Now bless me and let me depart in peace." [Her party] departed.

The church warden and a certain one of the clerics went before the altar [of St. Karapet] and said: "Oh Lord, if you pardon the woman who did this, other women will dare to do the same. Now give a sign of your strength that it be a testimony to the generations, and a witness and law to the multitudes." As soon as they had set the woman on her way, she ascended a small hill on the southern side of the monastery, at the head of Nardak [5 mss: Sadak], facing a small stronghold of Mecamor below Nardak which they call Andak. [Mariam] saw a wondrous sight to the north. She threw her child to the dayeak ("guardian," "tutor") and said: "I see a man with long hair in a thundering cloud coming [7] to me from the church. I see with him a sword, sharp and wet and dyed with blood." While speaking she was struck and perished there [g11]. Seeing this, the servants went and informed the church attendants. The abbot became angry with the warden and grew very sad and wept for many hours. Then, taking attendants with him he went to the place, made a grave and buried her there. He erected a xach'k'ar [stone cross] and wrote on it as follows:

Should Anyone Dare to BattleAgainst the Church of God, Let this Sword be through Him

Now [the abbot] took [the woman's] child and gave him to the dayeaks until he reached puberty. At that time [the abbot] took him to the monastery and trained him and established him as abbot before his own death. Now when [the lad's] father, the prince of Arcrunik' came back from Caesarea and heard about the death of his wife, he was seized with remorse. Abbot T'odik consoled him. And the prince resolved to construct a church. He went in search of [building] materials to Matravank', built a beautiful church there, and named it after his wife [Mariam], Holy Astuacacin [Mother of God]. He adorned it [8] with marvellous vessels and appointments. He similarly embellished holy Karapet at Glak monastery with great glory.

[This prince] returned to Karapet [the villages of] Kuarhs and Parex, since a certain impious prince of the Mamikonean house had shorn these two awans ("hamlets") from the monastery and given them to some gusan ("minstrel") woman. [The monastery's] abbot, Kiwregh, became incensed at this and cursed the prince for separating the villages from the monastery. After a month, when this prince was going to the hunt, his horse threw him and he gave up the ghost. Although the son returned the awans, nonetheless the abbot did not accept them from [g12] him until the arrival of this prince. The prince weighed out 22,000 dahekans gave them to the prince of Taron, bought Kuarhs and Parex and gave them to the monastery with a deed. In addition he gave two villages of his own district, Artamet and the gah ("seat") [village] of the princes. Then he left his son with T'odik and went to his own district. When he died he had his remains taken to Innaknean [monastery] and he is buried three paces from the church on the eastern side.

At that time they killed the Iranian king Ormizd, and his son Jamb Xosrov came as a fugitive to the Byzantines. Having been baptized in the Chalcedonian faith, he departed with troops from [the emperor] Maurice [A.D. 582-602] to the Iranian officials, and took [his] country. Now when Xosrov was coming back from Byzantium, upon the order of Maurice he took to Duin Mushegh, lord of Mush and prince of Taron's Xut' and of Sasun, and established him as marzpan of Armenia, giving him 30,000 Armenian troops. [Xosrov] took 70,000 Byzantine troops and went to Bahl Sahastan. The Byzantines were too proud to encamp with the Armenian troops, so they went a day's journey distant to [a] dastakert ("estate") and encamped there [g13].

Now Nixorch'es, the one who had killed Ormizd, assembled 80,000 Iranian soldiers and marched against Mushegh. The brave Mushegh, having encouraged the troops, barely convinced them to enter battle. Mushegh, prince of the Mamikoneans and marzpan of Armenia, advised the Armenian soldiers to call on St. Karapet as an intercessor and support. Having done so in unison, they attacked the [rebel] Iranians, and the Lord gave the enemy into their hands. When Mushegh had discerned who the monarch was, he approached him and they started to fight each other. Mushegh was exhausted, but, placing life or death before [10] himself, he raised up his club and brought it down on Nixorch'es' skull. His brains oozed out of his nostrils. He severed Nixorch'es' head and flung it into his pouch. The soldiers were encouraged in their fighting and grew more powerful. They put the enemy to flight, capturing 48 princes alive, while the number of the slain was unknown because of the multitude of them. Among the princes they captured 1,000 men, and with great triumph [Mushegh] returned from the battle.

As soon as king Xosrov was informed of what had happened, he rejoiced exceedingly. But the army of the Byzantines was grieved, feeling intense shame. Just when the king summoned Mushegh and was preparing to bestow gifts (pargew) on all the soldiers, Maurice (whom the Byzantines had set up as emperor) sent [a message] to Xosrov, saying: "Are you aware of the fact that Mushegh threatens the king with death?" Now [Xosrov] planned to ensnare and kill Mushegh and he sent to have the latter summoned. However, Xosrov's sister, having learned [of the plot], informed Mushegh of her brother's treachery. Mushegh took along [11] with him 40 princes, without anyone else, and they organized in war formation. With swords at the waist, they went to the king [g14]. Coming on horses up to the door of the tent (xoran), they responded in severity and exposed the assassination plot. They spat on him and ridiculed his foolishness. Then [Mushegh] arising in great anger with all the princes, left the king. As soon as the king heard [what they had said] he was frightened, for he was a youth.

Now prince Mushegh sent to the Byzantine general, saying: "You treacherously wished to slay me. Do not arouse a sleeping lion or a wolf which has forgotten its natural way of acting. Otherwise he who vanquished 80,000 can slay 70,000 too." He left troops in Duin and quit the marzpanate. He gathered his troops which were from the Mamikonean tun, and came to his own district. After a few years, Phocas killed Maurice, and sat on the throne himself [A.D. 602-610].

Xosrov went to avenge Maurice and enroute passed by the city of Karin. He sent [a message] to Mushegh, the prince of Taron, saying: "Come with me to the court of the Byzantine emperor, and avenge the death of Maurice. Otherwise, on my return, I will destroy your country and take you in fetters to the royal court, with your wife and sons. Now Mushegh did not send any reply [to Xosrov], but instead [12] began to fortify the district. When Xosrov went he took booty and captives from the country of the Byzantlnes and then passed to the Basen area, to Duin, Her and Bahl. But when [the Iranians] came to Karin, Xosrov sent Mihran to prince Mushegh in Taron that he capture Mushegh and take him to the Iranians. He commanded that those places where [Mushegh] had churches be destroyed, and that the clerics be kllled. Arriving there, those sent to accomplish this, did so [g15].

In the first year of the kingship of Phocas [A.D. 602] (one of the servants of Maurice who had treacherously killed the emperor and sat on his throne), Xosrov recalled the oath he had made with Maurice and came to Byzantium with 140,000 troops. He dug through many awans and districts and then turned back. Now he sent his sister's son, Mihran, to Taron with 30,000 men. As soon as he arrived in the Hashtenic' district, he captured someone to serve as their guide, and they came as far as the Inscribed Stone [at Arjan]. Having read the characters of the inscription they destroyed it, and 8,000 of [13] them went on to Meghti and Asteghunk' stronghold, while 22,000 remained at Arjan watching the fugitives. As soon as 7 men who were vegetarians, learned [about the situation], they came to the monastery and made all the clerics flee. Some fled and some remained. But Poghikarpos sent everyone to Oghkan stronghold, keeping only abbot T'odik and the church attendants in the place. And he ordered the attendants to ready themselves for communion. Once the 7 vegetarians performed mass, they ordered a secretary who had come from Byzantium to record what they said. They raised their hands before the holy altar and spoke the following [g16]: [We omit the translation of the prayers on pp. 17-19]

Having said "Amen," a voice came from Heaven which said: "Let it be as you wish. Those who for My sake and for Saint Karapet have dwelled apart, I shall repay upon my [second] coming and I shall forgive their sins. For I am merciful to all. Now come to the place of light which you have readied [for yourselves] through your asceticism." When the blessed men heard this, they worshipped before the holy altar and then went outside. Poghikarpos went before the holy Cross and began to pray and beseech God for the peace of the [14] entire land, the ruin of the enemy which had come, and for the poor remaining in their places. Suddenly the Iranian army arrived. As soon as they saw Poghikarpos, they quickly cut his neck and threw his body in front of the Cross. Quickly coming as far as the church door and seeing the clerics there weeplng and praying, they flung themselves upon the seven and cut them down. Their names were as follows:

T'eovmas,
Poghikarpos
Simeon,
Yohannes,
Epip'an,
Dimarhios
and Enarkios.

These seven were killed by the Iranian troops of Mihran on the 4th day of the month of K'aghoc' [December-January], which was Thursday, at the 9th hour. And [the Iranian troops] remained there until morning [g20].


About us

The parish of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Italy was founded in 1955 with the center in Milan, at the church of the Holy Forty Martyrs (S. Qarasun Mankunq). The first settlements of Armenians in Italy appear in Roman times. While the first information on the medieval era dates back to the VI-VII centuries. The churches built by the Armenians are already remembered in the 12th century. From the beginning of the 14th century, the ecclesiastical title “Episcope of the Armenians of Italy” is mentioned. In the XIII-XIV centuries more than 40 Armenian churches and monasteries were known, subordinate to the Armenian Apostolic Church, in various areas of Italy, with greater concentration in Venice, Trieste, Ravenna, Genoa, Rome and Naples. The Armenian communities in Italy had as spiritual pastors, priests and archimandrite, but also bishops and archbishops, as dioceses or minor religious community entities. Hospitals operated in churches, Armenian houses where Armenians were treated, and merchants could stay. The Armenian church of St. Gregory the Illuminator still worked in Naples in the 10th century. The saint was considered the protector of Naples and his feast was celebrated. Its relics are found in the church of San Gregorio known as Armeno. Part of the relics were delivered to Catholicos of all Armenians, Garegin B Nersisyan on the occasion of his visit to the Vatican (11/11/2000) and are kept in the gavit of the cathedral of St. Gregory Illuminator in Yerevan. In Naples the church of the Holy Spirit is mentioned (Surb Hoghi) (1328). While the S.Hakob church was built in Rome in the 11th century, the Armenian church of S.Barsegh existed in Milan in the same century. In the period 1342-1650 the Barseghyan religious congregation was active. In 1320 a monastery was founded in Pisa, which, according to a funeral inscription, had belonged to the Armenians for over a hundred years. In this monastery manuscripts were copied which are now found in the National Library of Vienna and in the Ambrosian Library of Milan. In 1307 in Genoa the Armenians built the convent and the church of S. Bartolomeo, which survived until 1650. The Armenian monastery and the church of S. Giovanni Battista are mentioned in Venice. Instead, the construction of the church of Santa Croce (Surb Khach) dates back to 1434 and from the 18th century. belongs to the Mechitarist congregation. At the end of the fourteenth century. because of the persecutions at the time of the inquisition and the forced conversion to Catholicism, Armenian ecclesiastical institutions have come under the rule of local ecclesiastical institutions.

The current community of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Italy was founded in the early 1900s by Armenians immigrants from Turkey and other Near Eastern countries who settled in northern Italy, Milan and other small and large cities. The first parish priest was ordained the pastor Elise Parsamian (1924-1937). After his death, the Armenian community for a decade and a half had guest pastors, invited from Paris, Marseille, Vienna. On the eve of the Second World War, the Union of Armenians of Italy was founded, whose statute was ratified by the Italian government. At the beginning of the 1950s, religious celebrations took place at the Anglican Church of All Saints in Milan. In 1995 the Italian authorities with the presidential decree recognized the community of believers of the Armenian Apostolic Church and gave an official permit for the construction of an Armenian church. Currently the only functioning Armenian apostolic church is the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Milan, built in 1957 (architects R. Iisraelian, P. Surian), and consecrated in 1958. The first pastor was the bishop Mons. Zgon Ter-Hakobyan, the member of the congregation of S. Hakobyants (1955-75). From 2018 and up to now he is Father Tirayr Hakobyan.


History and legends

Later churches were founded around the mother church of Ashtischat in Taron. Legends handed down by medieval Armenian historians, according to which monasteries were built in Taron or elsewhere in Armenian territory at the time of Gregory, do not withstand historical or archaeological scrutiny. There are no reliable references to monasteries in pre-Arab times (before the 7th century). This also calls into question the supposedly early founding of the famous Karapet Monastery.

For Surb Karapet and Yeghrduti Vank, who were associated with St. Gregory because of their location near Ashtishat, a legendary connection to the first Christian apostles seemed necessary, which was generally put forward to justify the early Christian demarcation of the Armenian from the Byzantine Church becomes. On his trip to the Orient in 1843/44, Karl Koch learned that the remains of John the Baptist were being kept in the two monasteries . They came to Ephesus in the 1st century and were brought to Caesarea in Cappadocia (today Kayseri ) because of the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Decius in 251 . St. Gregory received them from there and distributed them in the area of ​​his first mission. In addition to Surb Karapet, Yeghrduti Vank came into possession of a smaller part of the bones. The monastery has the name Surb Hovhannes Vank ("Johanneskloster") and the nicknames Manra Vank ("place of the little things", read: the little bones), Madre Vank ("place of the little finger") and Madra Vank ("chapel place" ) receive.

The heyday of Taron, from which the expansion of the monasteries began, began at the end of the 10th century when the princes of the Mamikonian dynasty took over power in the province, and, like in Eastern Armenia, reached its peak in the 12th century. The monastery consisted of the main church Surb Hovhannes , which was located in a walled courtyard, as well as sacred and secular outbuildings. Furthermore, from a will Arcvaber ( Ardzvaper chapel mentioned) reports, stating the names that kept in the monastery handwriting of Gospels was brought by an eagle. A few other legends surround the origins of the monastery and its importance in the Middle Ages. When Karl Koch passed the monastery on his way from Surb Karapet to Muş in October 1843, he found it still inhabited, but besieged by Kurds who settled in the area, and a nearby Christian village called "Khardsor" was largely deserted by its residents. At the site of the monastery, the remains of a building with a 60 meter long outer wall have been preserved.


Watch the video: Polish Pilgrims at Noravank, Armenia


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