#101, 2003-05-30 | #102, 2003-05-31 | #103, 2003-06-03


On Sunday June 1, the largest Armenian Church diocese in the world, the Araratian Pontifical Diocese, celebrated their "Divine Liturgy of Oath" in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, has declared 2003 to be the Year of Holy Etchmiadzin, as the worldwide church is celebrating the 1,700 Anniversary of the Consecration of the Mother Cathedral of the Armenian People. This year, every diocese is conducting a pilgrimage to the place where Christ descended, to participate in the celebration of a "Divine Liturgy of Oath".

Over 10,000 pilgrims from the Araratian Pontifical Diocese arrived by more than 100 busses, mini-vans, automobiles and on foot, to the Church of St. Hripsime, in the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), very early on Sunday morning.

Forming a procession that stretched for kilometers, the pilgrims marched toward the Mother See with great enthusiasm and fanfare. Leading the pilgrims were the Vicar of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese, His Grace Bishop Navasard Kjoyan; and the ranks of clergy from his diocese. Upon their arrival in the Mother See, the pilgrims entered the sanctuary, as the overflowing crowd surrounded the Mother Cathedral. His Holiness Karekin II presided during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The celebrant was His Grace Bishop Navasard. He was assisted at the Holy Altar by diocesan priests and deacons, as their choir members sang the hymns.

Very Rev. Fr. Arshak Khachatrian, Chancellor of the Mother See, welcomed the pilgrims on behalf of the Pontiff of All Armenians, prior to His Grace’s sermon. In his message to the faithful, His Grace said, "With this oath, we will transfer new breath and spirit to the well of our faith – the strength bestowed from God, Christianity. At this moment, we again hear within ourselves the eternal invitation: ‘Come and build the Holy Altar of Light.’ …We have been brought here by the patriotic and church-loving oaths we inherited from our forebears. Today, with renewed faith, each of us added to the oil in the Lamp of the Illuminator, which has been fermented with the tears of our saints. We were baptized once again with the light of the Enlightener, and in our souls we lit the redeeming flame."

In attendance for this extraordinary day were high-ranking clergymen, members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, members of the Diocesan Council of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese, Prime Minister of Armenia Andranik Margarian, Minister of Defense of Armenia Serj Sarkisian, President of the Constitutional Court Gagik Harutiunian, high-ranking members of the government, and representatives of the diplomatic corps registered in Armenia. Also in attendance was a delegation from France led by Senator Jean-Noël Guérini of France, President of the General Council of Bouches du Rhône.

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, the clergymen of the diocese and the members of the Diocesan Council, headed by His Grace Bishop Navasard, were received by His Holiness Karekin II in the Residence of the Catholicos (Veharan).

The Araratian Pontifical Diocese encompassing the capital city of Yerevan, and much of the Araratian plain, has a population of over 1.5 million. The Primate of the Diocese is His Holiness the Catholicos, and is thus called the "Pontifical" Diocese. The Vicar, His Grace Bishop Navasard Kjoyan is in charge of the day-to-day functioning of her churches, community life and mission.

© AZG Daily & MV, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 ver. 1.4