Van to Host Armenian ‘Pilgrimage’ to Akhtamar Church in September

VAN, Turkey (Anatolian News Agency)–Residents of the eastern Turkish province of Van will host Armenians arriving in the city for a worship service being conducted on September 19 at the newly renovated Holy Cross Church on the island of Akhtamar, local news outlets reported.

The number of Armenian guests in the province, once the cradle of Armenian civilization, is anticipated to be higher than the total capacity of hotels and guesthouses.

Turkish authorities announced earlier that the historic Armenian Church on Akhamar Island would be opened to religious worship for a single day this year, as a symbolic gesture to the Armenian community around the world, as part of Turkey’s purported efforts to normalize relations with Armenia.

So far, 4,000 families in the region have joined a local campaign to host the visiting Armenians. Turkish residents of Van lived together with the indigenous Armenian population of the province until the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in which they were massacred or deported.

The initiative to open the church for a one-day service came from the Van Governor’s Office, and approval came from the Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay. It is the first time since the Armenian Genocide that the church is being opened for a worship service. According to local officials, thousands of Armenians are expected to visit the church on the occasion.

The 1,100-year-old Holy Cross Church was re-opened as a museum in 2007 at a ceremony featuring officials from Armenia and Turkey after being restored by the Turkish government. The opening, shrouded in controversy, caused an uproar in Turkey’s Armenian community, angered by the fact that Turkish officials had reopened the church without its cross. The Armenian Patriarchate appealed to the state commission on historic monuments to include a cross and a bell in the belfry, but the request was denied. The commission eventually decided that a cross would be erected on the church on the day of a planned pilgrimage to the site.

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13 Comments

  1. Stepan said:

    The Armenian must immediately initiate a campaign(if it has not already) to conduct this event in a dignified manner. Specifically, the church should be opened for regular services and not be a one time event.
    The Holy Cross church should formally be placed under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Istanbul and reconsecrated according to the traditions of our church. Others have articulated these demands and I see them as the definition of a dignified event.
    It is probable that the Patriarchate may be constrained due to the political environment. I am sure
    the Turks are counting on a compliant and grateful response from the Armenians in Turkey. We understand these realities. In order to pursue these objectives, the Holy Sees must take on a leadership role. The Mother See in Etchmiadzin should make their voice heard. The See of Cilicia can play an important role since they are outside of the geo political environment of Turkey and Armenia; which may limit the Patriachate and Mother See respectively.
    It will be interesting to see if we can work as one for the benefit of all. Despite the risks we must manage, it is important both spiritually and politically to see this happen. I can see no better way to
    continue our campaign for justice then to pray to our Lord in our beautiful Bardarak in our historic Van.
    Each of these acts by the Turks has upside for us if we look at them as opportunities. Each question will lead to another. Not long ago the Turks denied there was anything Armenian in Western Armenia…. then they changed their tune to acknowledging Holy Cross but open it as a museum…. now they will “allow” a single Badarak. What next? Our list of demands is what should be next. Regular pilgrimages and Badaraks. The truth can not hidden. This has great possibilities that are in the interest of Armenians.

    • Murat said:

      stepan,

      what is your next demand? do you want air conditioners installed in the church?
      man.. you are so dumb to think that all these will eventually lead to the so called greater armenia.
      instead of thanking to the Turkish authorities that they let you pray, your appetite has already grown like a starving hyena.

      (i can hear you yelling at me : those places are ours. bla bla bla… let me remind you.it is in the jurisdiction of the Van Governarate which is responsible to the Turkish Ministry of Interior.)
      come back to 2010. it is not 2010 BC.

      • ARN. SWEDEN. said:

        WHAT IS THE DEMAND OF GOD ON TURKEY ???

        BLOOD IS ETERNAL – AND SHEDDING IT – CAN ONLY BEE RECONSILED BY SHEDDING OF BLOOD,
        EITHER THE GUILTY ONES OR GODS FOR YOUR SINS – THUS –

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENtL_li4GbE

        IF TURKEY DO NOT IN FAIH CONFESS HER SIN – AND LET THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST CLEANCE HER OF THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD –
        TURKEY MUST ITSELF BE CLEANCED BY HER OWN BLOOD – BECAUSE GOD HAS A CONTROVERSY WITH HER – AND THE BLOOD OF THE SLAYED ONES IS CRYING TO GOD FROM THE GROUND.

        ALL BLOOD BELONGS TO GOD AND GOD HIMSELF IS ALL BLOOD !!!.

        Arn,SWEDEN.

      • Onnik Kiremitlian said:

        You are an ignorant and a descendent of criminal Turks. The likes of you should not be considered humans.

  2. Barkev Asadourian said:

    Recommended to our respected people to BOYCOT that type of
    visit to Akhtamar Church, it is not a “Pilgrimage”it is cold war against whole
    Armenians in the world, then it is not a Warship for God and his son Jesus,
    whatever you spend goes to our No.1 enemy’s pocket,(Enemey since 600 years ago)
    clear to every creature in the world,they(turks) Genoside 1.500.000 Armenians,still now
    they don’t want to Regonize their Crime after 95 years,besides they ( turks ) trying by this
    way, to send message to all Countries of World , that Armenians wan’t to demend
    occupied lands by turks,in the future because they are could saying that Armenians
    they may visit any time.we wait 100 years without to see Akhtamar Church we didn’t
    had problem, now we can wait another 100 years until to get back Armenians Historical
    Occupied lands by turks by applying to Intr’l Court!!!

  3. Hye4Life said:

    As Harut Sasunian suggested we, Armenians, should boycott this event. 1st of all our $$$ going to Turkish economy, plus this is just another trap by Turkey to portray as tolerant society.

  4. Mikhail said:

    They should boycott it altogether and not allow themselves to be used as propaganda by the Turkish government.

  5. jda said:

    I understand Hitler also wanted to open a museum about the Jews after the last one was dead. Erdogan’s innovation is to invite the victims’ children to the museum.

    If it is not to be a Church run by the Patriarchate, it is stolen property displayed proudly by the thief to the victim of robbery.

  6. John Ahmaranian said:

    The two Catholicos, the Patriarchs, the Armenian Catholics and Protestants shoul pressure on the Christians worldwide to make the Monastery-Church of Van a diocese with a Primate taking care of Eastern Armenia (15 Armenia families in Mardin, 45 families in Diarbekir, 100 families in the cities of the Black Sea, few hundred families around Hopa, Hemshenistan and Artvin). The new Armenian prelate, residing in Van, in the name of human eights, must work with the converted Armenians, and there are thousands of families.
    The Armenians worldwide must financially contribute to such a project. And I will be the first one.

    • John Ahmaranian said:

      The two Catholicos, the Patriarchs, the Armenian Catholics and Protestants should pressure on the Christians worldwide to make the Monastery-Church of Van a diocese with a Primate taking care of Eastern Armenia (15 Armenia families in Mardin, 45 families in Diarbekir, 100 families in the cities of the Black Sea, few hundred families around Hopa, Hemshenistan and Artvin). The new Armenian prelate, residing in Van, in the name of human eights, must work with the converted Armenians, and there are thousands of converted families.
      The Armenians worldwide must financially contribute to such a project. And I will be the first one.

  7. Onnik Kiremitlian said:

    This is another publicity stunt by the Turks to portray themselves as civilized and tolerant before the whole world, while they are genocide perpetrators and deniers. This event should be outright boycotted by the Armenians worldwide.

    This should awaken us from our slumber and force the Armenians, headed by the Government of the Republic of Armenia to take Turkey to the International Criminal Court in Hague for committing genocide and denying it. All the rest is a mere sham and a waste of time as we near the hundreth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

    ARMENIANS, AWAKE AND COME TO YOUR SENSES!!!!

  8. David said:

    The church services are a typical crude PR stunt by Turkey.

    The real Turkey is the one that skins an Armenian priest alive, takes the good looking Armenian women and girls into harems, crowds the rest into a church and then sets the church on fire, saying (this is true – this is what Turks actually said), “Let your Jesus Christ save you now”.

  9. Pingback: Van to Host Armenian ‘Pilgrimage’ to Akhtamar Church in September | OBL News

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