Armenian Church of Swaziland Transferred to Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin

Armenian Church in Swaziland. (Source: Public Radio of Armenia)
Armenian Church in Swaziland. (Source: Public Radio of Armenia)

Holy Resurrection Armenian Chapel of Swaziland. (Source: Public Radio of Armenia)

MBABANE, SWAZILAND (Armenpress) — On January 13, King Msvati III of Swaziland officially transferred the Holy Resurrection Armenian Chapel and the lands pertaining to the Chapel to the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin.

Last year, representatives of the local Armenian community submitted to King Msvati III of Swaziland a petition with the request to transfer the Holy Resurrection Church to the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin.

A year later, the Armenian chapel of Swaziland truly became an Armenian chapel and one that will legally pertain to the Catholicosate from now on.

The Armenian Church in the distant African kingdom was constructed in 1989, due to the efforts by Grigor Derbelyan.

Derbelyan, a citizen of Swaziland, was born in 1914 in Aintab. During the Armenian Genocide, Grigor reached Cairo in the hands of his mother. However, his mother died just couple of months after they reached Cairo. Following his studies at the Armenian university in Cairo, Grigor worked in Khartum (Sudan) where there was quite a large Armenian community. Later, he was able to get a job with the Olivett Company in Johannesburg, South African Republic.

As he got older, Derbelyan decided to settle in a place called Pine Valley, located in Swaziland. Pine Valley was not far from Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland. Derbelyan considered the place to be an amazing discovery and it immediately convinced him that this is here where he wants to spend the rest of his life and die.

Some of the landscape of Pine Valley even reminded him of Armenia. Therefore, he purchased an 11-acre land and built a small Armenian chapel and plants including 1,770 pine and fir trees. A small river flows aside the chapel. Grigor referred to the river as the Arax River and even placed a panel named “Arax River”. Construction of the church was launched in 1985 and ended in 1989.

About 60 people made contributions for construction of the chapel, including Olivetti Company, where Grigor worked at for 12 years.

The small church has two cupolas.

Local construction materials were used to build the chapel. Interestingly, the part in the back of the chapel leans on a large stone that serves as an altar, like the Saint Geghard Church in Armenia.

Today, there is a small Armenian community that consists of eight members in the small African Kingdom. The Armenians of the neighboring South African Republic help the Armenians of Swaziland care for the chapel and the lands pertaining to the chapel.


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  1. Saaten Maagar said:

    Maybe now the Catholicos can send one of his Bentley driving archbishops as a representative to this community.
    A perfect place for those many clergy who do not care about their congregation anyway and present opportunities for side businesses as usual now but with absolute and total lack of any oversight.

  2. Gurgen said:

    Saahten, there is no community in Swaziland, there is no business opportunities in Swaziland and don’t believe everything you read or hear.

  3. lynette wyszkowski said:

    My husband Stash Wyszkowski was working as a stone mason in Parktown Johannesburg and he was asked to help build the chapel. We stayed in Pine valley often with his sister who lived there in the eighties when she was a subeditor on the daily newspaper.

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