Monday, September 20, 2010

Historic ceremony in Ahtamar Church

20 September 2010

Nearly four thousand prayed in Ahtamar Church for the first time in 95 years

Yesterday was a historical day for Ahtamar Church in Van for Armenians, who were wiped off the Kurdistan map before as far as a century. The memories of a destroyed and lived down history revived with the ritual in the church.

The ritual, which was leaded by Turkey Armenian Patriarch General Vice Aram Atesyan and started at 11.00, was participated by nearly four thousand people coming from from the four corners of the world. The call for the ritual was made live with loudspeakers as the church doesn’t have a church bell.

While the ritual inside the church was attended only by 50 people due to the narrowness of the inner space, the rest participators watched the ritual with two giant screens outside.

Participators of the ritual hymned and prayed for 2 hours in company with the choir. Following the speech of Ateşyan and readings of some parts from the Bible, reverends kept hymning and praying outside for some more time.

The ritual was concluded after the ceremony leaded by reverends including Atesyan. During the ritual, reverends allocated prosphoras to the participators in the church garden, where some congregants took souvenir photos in front of the crucifix.

And some others lighted candles and prayed in the private part at the back side.

At the end of the ritual, a show was performed by Maral dance group, who came from İstanbul upon the invitation of Turkey Armenian Patriarchate.

At his speech after first pray, Atesyan spoke as follows; “The church we are in, is an architectural masterpiece, which King Gagik had built and architect Manuel created in 10.century. And today we are in the fortunateness of praying in this church and sharing a 11 centuries-old spiritual tradition.”

Thanking for the opening of the church for religious service, Ateşyan worded as follows; “ Some people claimed that we stood alone in this ritual. We are, however, not alone in our prayings. Lord Jesus Christ taught that he will be among those who pray and came together around his name and saying. So, Lord Jesus Christ is with us at the moment. Angels; all saints, Mother Mary in particular; King Gagik and architect Manuel; patriarchs who prayed in this church 11 centuries long; prelates and the souls of our ancestors are with us.”

The crucifix, which wasn’t placed in the church dome due to time lag, drew intense interest of the attendants. The visitors almost pit one against another to take souvenir photos in front of the crucifix.

The ritual, which was attended by 4 thousand people including Armenian congregants in Turkey, was followed by 148 local and 63 foreign press members.

The ritual was also participated by Germany’s Turkey Embassador Eckart Cuntz, Cultural Property and Museums General Director Osman Murat Süslü,Van Mayor Bekir Kaya, Gevaş Governor Yusuf Güni, Gevaş Mayor Nazmi Sezer, Armanian congregants and some other Armenians coming from Germany, Iran, South Kurdistan, France and some other countries from Europe.