UNITED NATIONS—On Wednesday, an Armenian khatchkar (cross-stone) was officially blessed and installed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The khatchkar is a gift from the government of Armenia to the UN.
Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Primates of the Armenian Church of America Archbishop Khazhak Barsamian and Archbishop Oshakan Choloyan, representatives from UN member states and the UN Secretariat, and Armenian-American community members participated at the event.
In his remarks, Ambassador Mnatsakanyan thanked the guests for joining for the celebration of the return of that magnificent symbol of medieval history and culture back to the UN Headquarters, stating that since the medieval era when this work was carved, khatchkars have been the most compelling commemorative marker for Armenians. Mnatsakanyan further noted that in 2010 UNESCO declared the Armenian khatchkar as tangible world cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. He also reminded that in 2005, hundreds of khatchkars were barbarically destroyed in a 1,500 year-old Armenian cemetery in Jugha, presently under Azerbaijani occupation in Nakhijevan. Reflecting on the history of his nation overwhelmed with phases of destruction and annihilation, and a devastating calamity 100 years ago in the Ottoman Empire, he concluded that like those stones, Armenians bear resilience, faith and eternal love for life and no genocide could break his people.
Dr. Helen Evans, Metropolitan Museum Curator for Byzantine Art at the Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, made remarks about the value and symbolism of the khatchkar and elaborated on the origins of this graceful work from the Monastery of Geghard.