The ninth century Dadivank Monastery, which is nestled in the rugged mountains of Artsakh’s Shahumyan region, is under the protection of Russian peacekeeping forces, Holy See of Etchmiadzin said Saturday.
As part of the handover of territories to Azerbaijan, stipulated by the “end of war” agreement signed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, Dadivank, a symbol of centuries-old Armenian heritage as well as the nation’s resilience, is to be placed under Azerbaijani control when Karvachar is surrendered to Azerbaijan.
Father Vahram Melikyan, the head of the press service of the Holy See Etchmiadzin proclaimed that the monastery “is not in danger” as it is being guarded by Russian peacekeepers.
‘’Currently there are some clergy in the Cathedral who will continue to worship at the sanctuary and perform the ordinances regularly,’’ Melikyan wrote in a Facebook post.
In telephone conversation Saturday, President of Russia Vladimir Putin told his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev that Christian churches that will fall under Azerbaijan’s control must be maintained, emphasizing the need for their continued operation.
Azerbaijani bandits have already defaced the Ghazantchetsots (Holy Savior) Cathedral in Shushi with graffiti.
Father Hovhannes Hohannisyan, that pastor of the Dadivank Monastery told the press that he was considering removing the cross-stones and bells of the church so they are not destroyed by Azeris.
“I was waiting for a miracle to happen since I wanted to remove the cross-stones that our ancestors have carved and placed here 800 years ago,” said Father Hovhannisyan said before Saturday’s announcement. “I was even afraid of being punished for that. I have been afraid and have been waiting for a miracle.”
Many residents evacuating Artsakh before the handover, are making a pilgrimage of sorts to Dadivank to say a prayer and to experience its grandeur for one last time.