YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–As part of celebrations marking the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s adoption of Christianity as a state religion–pilgrimages will begin on St. Mary’s Day–August 18–and last until August 30. During that period–among other activities–participants of the pilgrimages will visit Armenian Apostolic churches in Shirag–Arakadzodn–Ararat prelacies–and they will participate in the consecration of old and new churches.
In an interview with Noyan Tapan–1700th Anniversary Celebrations Pilgrimage Committee Chairperson Archbishop Hovhan Derderian reported that last year 180 devotees participated in the pilgrimage. This year–he said–the number has increased to 300–150-200 of which are from California–50-60 are from the Eastern United States and Canada–as well as from Lebanon–Iran and other countries.
Archbishop Derderian stated that the pilgrimages–which began in 1997 and will continue until the 1700th anniversary in the year 2001–are not restricted to Diasporan Armenia’s. With the participation of residents of Armenia–he pointed out that the number of attendees at times exceeds 3000.
Explaining the necessity and significance of the pilgrimages–the Pilgrimage Committee Chairperson said when the Armenian nation was forcibly deported from Western Armenia during the past eighty years–"we were displaced as well." He said that Armenia was detached from the religious traditions which had helped keep the nation together for the past 1700 years. The pilgrimages–he said–are an attempt to reestablish those traditions.