ISTANBUL–Close to 700 pilgrims embarked on a trip late last week to the city of Gesaria. The purpose of the voyage was to partake in the divine liturgy being held at the St. Krikor Lousavoritch Church which was recently renovated by the help of benefactor Zadig Toker.
The pilgrimage was organized within the framework of the 1700 anniversary of the adoption of Christianity by Armenia’s–and was headed by Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan. Accompanying the Patriarch were several clergy–including the prelate of Romania–and the St. Vartanants choir. The church was filled to capacity. One spectator commented on how it seemed the entire Armenian community of Istanbul was present in Gesaria.
After ceremonies were held throughout the morning–the curtains of the three altars of the historic church were opened for the Patriarch to perform the divine liturgy. The liturgy was carried out by three archbishops–which represents the significance of the historic event.
The Patriarch remembered the long list of former prelates and archbishops belonging to the Gesaria diocese. While preaching –the Patriarch noted that there were many local Armenia’s in attendance–and accordingly delivered a portion of his sermon in Turkish.
A requiem was held following the liturgy. A group comprised of clergy and choir members proceeded around the church three times–singing hymns. The entire ceremony lasted five hours.