BY NORA VOSBIGIAN
LONDON—The Armenian community of Great Britain participated in the unveiling of a khachkar at Canterbury Cathedral on 2 March. The khachkar was placed in the cathedral’s memorial Garden to mark the end of WWI, remember the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and recall the memory of Randall Davidson (Archbishop of Canterbury 1903-1928), who worked tirelessly to save Armenians at that time.
The two metre khachkar was crafted in Canterbury from tufa stone especially imported from Armenia. It bears the year 301 in Armenian letters (ՅԱ), when Armenia officially II converted to Christianity, and the inscription “Ու ես կ’երթամ դէպ ի աղբիւրը լոյսին” [And I go towards the source of light”) from Taniel Varoujan’s poem, “Լոյսը” [The Light].
The Canterbury Khachkar project was initiated by master craftsmen Brigadier John Meardon and Vartan Moskofian. It then took off with the timely support of AGBU (London) and other individuals and donors. From the outset, Resight Film, began recording each step for a full-length documentary. And, as the date for the dedication approached, the primate of the Armenian Apostolic church in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, prepared a special ceremony for the occasion.
On the day of dedication, a beautiful vespers service was held in the main cathedral, presided by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, with the participation of Bishop Hovakim Manukyan. The ceremony was attended by dignitaries, as well as several hundred Armenians and their friends from across the United Kingdom. The presence of so many people added more colour and dignity to the event. The church service was followed by the consecration of the khachkar with holy miuron from Echmiadzin, accompanied by a special Armenian service led by Bishop Manukyan and supporting clergymen.
After the consecration, the procession moved to the cloisters where Bishop Manukyan and Archbishop Welby lay flowers and prayed at the grave of Randall Davidson. There then followed a reception at Chapter House for several hundred guests, including music and poetry, as well as words from Brigadier John Meardon, Ara Sarafian (historian), Bishop Manukyan, and the new Armenian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Dr. Arman Kirakossian.
The speakers reflected on the horrors of WWI, the importance of remembering the Armenian Genocide, and the need for truth, reconciliation and just resolution of the Armenian issue.