Saturday, 10 October 2015

Armenian Church News Primate Celebrates the Divine Liturgy in Manchester

Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and Ireland
Volume 1, Issue 9 9 October 2015

the sophisticated faith of theologians and scholars. But it was always the unshakeable faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that supported our people both in times of difficulty and prosperity.
Despite the fact that our people have been scattered all over the world, and that some of them could not speak their mother tongue and therefore could not understand the language of the worship, they kept their faith. Their faith survived because our sacred traditions were kept alive within the family along with a respect for the Church. They survived because there were strong links and golden chains of unity with their spiritual centre - the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Today we see one of the symbols of this unity: the newly blessed Holy Muron that we have brought from Armenia, with the blessings of the Catholicos of All Armenians, for the benefit and spiritual nourishment of the faithful of the Armenian Church.’’
After this speech, the Primate thanked the wardens and members of the community. At the end of the Divine Liturgy a special water blessing service was held with the newly blessed Holy Muron that the Primate brought from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Rev. Fr. Nerses Nersisian assisted the Primate in the water blessing ceremony.
The previous day, 3rd October, the first baptisms took place with the new Holy
Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland
His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate
Diocesan Office
Tel. 0208 127 8364 primatesoffice@
Examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is really in you?’’ (Cor 13:5)
“These are not my words but those of Paul, the apostle of gentiles, who was writing to the congregation in Corinth in his second epistle. I urge you to do the same by examining yourselves to make sure you are in the faith’’ said the Primate during the sermon whilst celebrating the Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church in Manchester on 4th October. Making his first official visit to the Armenian Community, His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan praised the community in Manchester for their strong Christian commitment and organization.
While speaking about the importance of faith, Bishop Hovakim said; “The faith in Jesus Christ has been the sole power that has helped the Armenian nation to survive throughout the centuries. Sometimes it was a naïve and simple faith of ordinary people. Sometimes it was also
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Armenian Church News
Muron, at Holy Trinity Church in Manchester. The newly baptised members of our Church are: Ellie Aida Hripsime Mkhitaryan (parents: Davit Mkhitaryan and Christine Yeramian, godfather: Alex Yeramian); and Zachary Sarkisian (parents: Hiek Sarkisian and Louise Foy, godfather: Noah Sarkisian).
Churches Together in England - Conference
CTE (Churches Together in England) is the ecumenical body which brings together major Christian denominations, churches and Christian organizations in England under one roof. Formerly it was known as Council of Churches in England. The Armenian Church of the UK and Ireland has been a member of CTE for over two decades as an independent member and also as an associate member through the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the UK. His Grace Bishop Nathan Hovhannissian served as one of four Presidents of CTE between 2004 and 2009 while he was the Primate of the Armenian Church of the UK.
The CTE Conference takes place every three years. This year it took place from 28- 30th September 2015 at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire. The Forum was a delegate conference, bringing together over three hundred representatives of Churches Together in England's Member Churches, Intermediate Bodies, Co-ordinating Groups and Bodies in Association.
By the directive of our Primate H.G. Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, our Diocese was represented in the Forum this year by Rev. Fathers Movses Sargsyan and Shnork Bagdassarian.
This year’s Forum was different from previous years as there was a strong presence of Orthodox delegates and also young people.
Page 3   Armenian Church News ACYF Elects New Executive for London Chapter
ACYF Social Gathering
On the 14th October at
7:30pm Srpazan Hovakim, Primate of the UK and Ireland and the ACYF London Chapter would like to invite the youth for pizza and desserts at the Vicarage in Iverna Gardens, Kensington, W8 6TP, to meet with the new Primate and to have an official handover and to congratulate former executives for serving their terms and for all their hard work towards the ACYF London Chapter.
On the 4th October 2015 the Primate invited some of the active members of the Armenian Church Youth Fellowship and some deacons to have a meeting regarding recruitment for the ACYF London Chapter. They all met in the Vicarage, with Hayr Sourp Movses also present for guidance. Srpazan Hayr appointed a couple of new positions to the committee. The temporary committee was appointed and approved by all present :
Anais Heghoyan: Chariman
Ariana Kosyan: Vice Chariman Krikor Sabounjian: Communications Akop Gulushanian: Treasurer Anahit Vardanova: Secretary
With Nairy Afrikian and Tigran Mkrtchyan as advisors.
Diocesan Clergy Meeting
On the 6th October in the Gulbenkian Hall, the Primate presided over a meeting of the clergy of the diocese. Practical questions related to the liturgical life of the communities were discussed in the presence of the priests and deacons.
The order of procession of deacons and priests during the ecumenical prayer service (which will take place on 28th October to celebrate the lives of Holy Martyrs of 1915, in Westminster Abbey) was discussed as well as questions of pastoral concern.
By the decision of the Primate, deacons and choirs will start special rehearsals of Church songs, particularly the hymns of midday prayers for the Divine liturgy. The rehearsals will be led by Mr. Aris Nadirian from Sunday, 11th of October, at 17:00 hours in St. Sarkis Church.
The next meeting of the clergy of the diocese will be held on 12th November 2015, in the Gulbenkian hall, at 19:00.
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Armenian Church News
Armenian Church News
current projects, including the building of a kindergarden (Soseh magabardez) in Stepanakert, Artsakh. A summary of the kindergarden project was shown in a short film.
During the evening members and guests were entertained with beautiful Armenian folk dancing by Maral Baghjian and friends as well as poetry by poet Mrs. Gayaneh Khachateryan.
Towards end of the cocktail reception, the anniversary cake was brought into the hall and all the members gathered around to cut the cake.
The evening's last word was with Hayr Movses, who praised the ARS's humanitarian work and reminded all that giving is a great joy.
Armenian Relief Society in London Celebrates 33rd Anniversary
The Armenian Relief Society (ARS) was founded in New York, USA in 1910. At the time it was known as the Armenian Red Cross. Today the ARS has branches in over 25 countries and has over 15,000 members. The ARS serves the humanitarian, social and educational needs of Armenians and non- Armenians all over the world.
Currently the ARS is holding its 71st International Convention in Yerevan.
In 1982 the Armenian Relief Society of Great Britain (ARS GB) was established. On Sunday 27th September 2015, ARS GB celebrated their 33rd Anniversary at the Navasartian Centre, with their members and guests.
The cocktail reception was opened with a welcome speech from ARS GB's chairlady, Mrs. Arshalouys Babayan, followed by the ARS's anthem. During her speech, Mrs. Babayan informed members and guests about the work of the ARS and its
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Armenian Church News
Spirituality and Religious Life
The Armenian Bible
There are two great literary dialects of modern Armenian, in which it was necessary to publish the Bible, since the ancient Armenian (called Grapar, or "written") was no longer generally understood.
Ararat-Armenian: The first version of the New Testament into Ararat Armenian, by Dittrich, was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in Moscow in 1835; the Psalter in 1844; the rest of the Old Testament much later. There was an excellent edition published in Constantinople in 1896.
Constantinopolitan-Armenian: A version of the New Testament into Constantinopolitan Armenian, by Dr. Zohrabian, was published in Paris in 1825 by the British and Foreign Bible Society. This version was made from the Ancient Armenian. A revised edition, by Adger, appeared in Smyrna in 1842.
With the authorization of the Armenian Apostolic Church new translations of the Bible were made in Eastern and Western Armenian in recent periods.
The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin in cooperation with the Armenian Bible Society translated and republished the version of the Arsen Bagratuni (Venice 1860) in 1994. The Bible has been re- published in 1999 and 2001.
The Bible is read during the Divine Liturgy and the Liturgy of Hours as well as during the Sacraments. The sermons of the clergy are mostly based on the Biblical passages of the day and the faithful follow the interpretation of the Bible and receive the message during the liturgy and other sacraments.
The Bible is a highly venerated book not only in the Armenian Church but also in Armenian families. The late Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin I, on one occasion said “the Bible is not a simple source of knowledge but rather it is a source of inspiration. You can’t read the Bible like any other book. It must be accepted as an image, in which our image corresponds with the image of Jesus.”
These two sentences depict the importance of the Bible in the life of the Armenian people. The Armenians have been reading it in their mother tongue since the 5th century, when the Armenian alphabet was created in 405, and subsequently the Holy Scriptures were translated into Armenian (ancient Armenian-Grabar), the first version from Syriac Peshitta (406-432) and Greek Septuagint and Origen’s Hexapla, known also as the queen of translations from 432-439.
Because of foreign invasions, the Armenians had to flee their home country and establish centers in Europe and even in the Far East. Thus, the first Armenian bibles were printed in Europe. The Psalter was printed in Rome in 1565 and the Bible by Vardapet Oskan of Erivan in Amsterdam in 1666. Later on a new edition was published in Constantinople in 1705 and in Venice in 1733. Friar Hovhannes Zohrabian, member of Armenian Mkhitarist brotherhood in Venice, published the Bible in 1805. His version is known as Zohrabian Bible. Arsen Bagratuni published the first critical edition of the Armenian Bible in 1860.
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Armenian Church News
Apart from the liturgical practices, the Diocesan Office of the Armenian Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland has launched a project to teach the Bible to the laity. Men and women of different ages attend these studies.
The rich commentaries of the Armenian Church fathers are being utilized to ascertain specific topics related to faith and morality.
The Bible studies are usually held every Thursday evening. During the interactive sessions the participants are welcome to participate and to express their opinions and ideas on the topics under discussion.
"To the Right Hand (of St. Gregory the Illuminator)
and to Holy Etchmiadzin, the whole of the Armenian nation
is bound."
-Archimandrite Arakel Davrizhetsi
17th Century Historian
Our History and Heritage
The Mother Church of Holy Etchmiadzin
Etchmiadzin Cathedral (Armenian: Էջմիածնի Մայր Տաճար) is the Mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, located in the city of Vagharshapat, Armenia. According to most scholars it was the first cathedral built in ancient Armenia, and is considered the oldest cathedral in the world.
According to the ‘History of the Armenians’ (c. 460) by Agathangelos, Saint Gregory the Illuminator had a vision of Jesus Christ descending from heaven and striking the earth with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built. Hence, the Catholicos gave the church the name of Etchmiadzin (էջ ēĵ "descent" + մի mi "only" + -ա- -a- (linking element) + ծին tsin "begotten"), which translates to "the Descent of the Only- Begotten [Son of God].
The original church was built in the early fourth century—between 301 and 303 according to tradition—by Armenia's patron Saint Gregory the Illuminator, following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by King Tiridates III. The core of the current
building was built in 483/4 by Vahan Mamikonian after the cathedral was severely damaged in a Persian invasion. From its foundation until the second half of the fifth century, Etchmiadzin was the seat of the Catholicos, the supreme head of the Armenian Church.
Although never losing its significance, the cathedral subsequently suffered centuries of virtual neglect. In 1441 it was restored as a catholicosate and remains as such to this day. Etchmiadzin was plundered by Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1604, when relics and stones were taken out of the cathedral in an effort to undermine Armenians' attachment to their land. Since then the cathedral has undergone a number of renovations. Belfries were added in the latter half of the seventeenth century and in 1868 a sacristy was constructed at the cathedral's east end. Today, it incorporates styles of different periods of Armenian architecture. Diminished during the early Soviet period, Etchmiadzin revived again in the second half of the twentieth century, under an independent Armenia.
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Armenian Church News
As the main spiritual center of most Armenians worldwide, Etchmiadzin has been an important location in Armenia not only religiously, but also politically, economically and culturally. A major pilgrimage site, it is one of the most visited places in the country. Along with several important early medieval churches located nearby, the cathedral was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.
The Mother Cathedral is open to the faithful everyday from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Divine Liturgy is celebrated every Sunday starting at 11:00 a.m., except on Feast Days or special occasions when it starts at 10:30 a.m. Morning services are conducted starting at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. Evening Services are conducted at 5:30 p.m. every day.
Page 8
Your Questions Answered
The Diocesan Office was asked if it is mandatory to fast before the Holy Communion. The answer is yes. According to tradition the fasting is mandatory before taking Holy Communion. Those faithful who want to partake in Divine Liturgy and take Holy Communion first of all must fast. This means they are not going to eat anything in the morning before the liturgy. At the same time the faithful are invited to prepare themselves spiritually and be ready for the confession of sins. These are traditions established by Church fathers. Those who have health problems and cannot fast, are invited to liaise with their pastors.
Prayer intentions:
September and October
Upcoming Events
Armenian Church News
11th October: on the Feast of the Holy Translators there will be a solemn liturgy at St. Yeghiche Church in London. At the end of the liturgy there will be a requiem service in memory of the parents of the benefactors of the Church. The liturgy will be celebrated by guest clergy, Very Rev. Fr. Shahe Ananyan, Head of the Inter-Church Relations Department of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
18th October: the Primate will visit the parish in Dublin and celebrate the Divine Liturgy.
28th October: there will be an Ecumenical Prayer Service celebrating of the lives of the newly-sainted Armenian Martyrs of 1915, Westminster Abbey, at 7:00 pm.
7th November: the Primate will celebrate the Divine Liturgy with the Armenian Community in Cardiff.
The main objective of the diocesan e-newsletter is to serve and reach out to Armenians throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. The community members and organizations are welcome to send their announcements for the e- newsletter, including information not only about public events but also about important family events such as christening, matrimony or passing away.
We pray and ask you to remember in your prayers our brethren and sisters in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Iraq. We ask the mercy of God for those suffering because of wars and for those who have become refugees. Please, also remember in your prayers that peace and stability may prevail on the borders of Armenia and Kharabakh.
Armenian Church News
Worship Services in the Armenian Churches
Services are held in the Armenian Churches every Sunday starting at 11:00 am. For further details, please contact the parish nearest to you:
Holy Trinity Armenian Church
229 Upper Brook Street Manchester, M13 0FY
Tel: 0161 273 1074
St. Sarkis Church
Iverna Gardens Kensington, London, W8 6TP Tel: 020 7937 0152
St. Yeghiche Cathedral
13b Cranley Gardens Kensington, London SW7 3BB Tel: 020 7373 8133
Parishes of our Diocese:
Cardiff - Tel: + 44 771 279 2304, +44 2920779248.
Dublin - Tel: +44 2891 863559.
Mission Parish of Birmingham – Tel: +44 121 675 1469. St John’s Church, Stratford Road, Birmingham, B11 4EA
Oxford Campus Ministry:
Oxford - Tel: +44 7810 490242.
We invite those who have questions or wish to gain deeper understanding of the faith, moral discernment, teachings and traditions of the Armenian Church to contact the Office of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in United Kingdom and Ireland:
The Primate’s Office
The Armenian Vicarage
Iverna Gardens
London, W8 6TP
or email:
Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland
His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate
Diocesan Office

Tel. 0208 127 8364 primatesoffice@

Mother Teresa’s real name was Agnessa Boyajyan

Garen Arevian and 5 others shared a link.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Programme of Armenian Studies at the Armenian House Kensington...


Enrollment for this year's Western Armenian evening courses is this Sunday
Enrolment for this year’s Western Armenian evening classes will take place on Sunday 11 October from 3pm to 6pm. All students who have expressed an interest in this year’s classes are invited to attend to meet the teacher, collect course materials, and formally enroll. For more information on the evening classes on offer, please click here.


Enrolment will take place at Hye Doon (Armenian House) in south London. This is the venue where classes will be held.

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Tuesday, 6 October 2015



‘Israel is a very small country that lacks demographic and geographic depth’, intoned hypocritically PM Bibi Netanyahu. It was a ruthless ‘Nein!’ to sheltering any Syrian refugees. Compassion for the suffering neighbours? Women, children and old people? The hard-hearted fellow does not care. They are Arab aliens. To hell with them!

‘Love the sojourner…for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt’, says the Lord in Deuteronomy. (10:19). Reinforced by ‘You shall not oppress a stranger or wrong him, because you were a stranger in the land of Egypt’, Israel’s God commands in Exodus (23:21). ‘I am wronging no one! I am looking after my own people’, I can hear Bibi’s squawks of protest. But some omissions as just as morally bad as some actions. If you saw a child drowning near you and you could save him but did nothing, you would be rightly execrated by all. It is shocking, disgusting that descendants of Jews who have been persecuted and massacred should refuse to help others human beings - literally neighbours - in the same predicament.

Compassion, actively exercised, is one of the noblest human characteristics. One that differentiates men from brute beasts. But I admit that compassion should not prevent a statesman from thinking, reasoning about the likely consequences of his political steps. Netanyahu’s reasons are faulty, however.

Geography is invoked to justify callousness. Israel is small. That is true. 8015 square miles. But so is tiny Lebanon. Even smaller. Only 4015 sq miles. Half Israel’s size. And it lacks the massive financial and military aid America gives to Israel. Yet Lebanon has given asylum to more than a million fleeing Syrians! Hence the geographic argument is arrant nonsense.

What about demography? I take it Israel’s PM is worried about the refugees ‘breeding like rabbits’ and offsetting the ethnic balance of the Jewish state. Again, rubbish. The Syrian civil war will not go on for ever. When, God willing, it is over, the refugees will gladly opt to go back to their own country. Why should they desire to stay in a foreign, not-so-amicable land? Besides, you can bet your boots Bibi would make damn sure they have little inducements to remain.

‘But their children meanwhile born in Israel will be entitled to citizenship’, another excuse goes. Fiddlesticks! No doubt Bibi and his ilk can pass laws to bar that. Where there is a will there is a way. Clearly, Netanyahu’s will is to shut the door, regardless of circumstances.

To be fair, the chief of Israel’s opposition, Herzog, has attacked the PM’s insensitivity. And so has the left-leaning Meretz party. Not all Israelis should be tarred over with Bibi’s rough brush. And there are many noble Jews who wish to abide by the higher ethical standards of the Jewish religion. Thanks God for that!

Israeli response to human suffering contrasts starkly with that of Germany. The former cradle of the III Reich, the nation historically associated with racial exclusivity and the attempt to create the Superman, has outdone all other peoples in welcoming lowly immigrants from the Middle East. Angela Merkel has offered to take in 800.000 this year and probably half a million a year thereafter. An unwise move, some opine (where are the infrastructures? What about, to echo David Cameron, social cohesion?), but still a hugely impressive policy. Never mind obvious differences in culture and religion, Germany has welcomed the refugees. Israel has not.

Although Bibi may not state it bluntly, most Syrians are Muslims. That must make them especially undesirable to the Jewish state. Odd, if you think about it. When the Inquisition threw out Jews from Catholic Spain centuries back, the nations in which they were given asylum and hospitality were Muslim ones. The Ottoman Empire was especially welcoming. Jews on the whole did very well under the Sultan’s rule. Indeed, financially well. The man who financed the Turkish conquest of Cyprus in 1571 was Don Jose’ Nasi, a wealthy Marrano, a Sephardi Jew of Portuguese origins. Similarly, many Jews fleeing intolerant Catholic Europe, prospered in Arab countries. Ironic that the Jewish state today should show itself so unwilling to repay the debt…

How many refugees should Israel take? I say as many as a million. Wot! Is the priest nuts? But the Zionist nation already puts up with 1.700 million Arabs within its borders, quite apart from those in the occupied West Bank. And Gaza is well 1.816 million people. One million refugees would not be impossible to accommodate – temporarily. And the Yanks might help.

Suicidal for the Jewish state? Self-destruction? On the contrary, it would be a fabulously positive message sent out to the whole Middle East, to Europe, to all the world. Generosity, hospitality, mercy and love. It would tremendously enhance Israel’s reputation among the Gentiles. That is what God sent the Prophet Isaiah to proclaim:

‘…I have called you in righteousness, I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out prisoners from the dungeons, from the prison those who sit in darkness’.

I pray that it may be so, despite spiteful Bibi.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

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Keghart... Dr Dikran Abrahamian's non-partisan website....

Goodbye Prez. Sargsyan;
Hello PM Sargsyan

Translate or View it in your browser
 Editorial, 6 October 2015
The tiny country you lead has been hurting since independence because of a two decade long blockade by two of its neighbors. The country faces almost daily border attacks from its eastern neighbor whose leader regularly promises to invade your country with the latest in military weaponry.  Thus an unaffordable chunk of your budget is reserved to defense. The economy is in dire shape, and there are no signs that it would improve anytime soon. Unemployment, especially among the young, is high. Tens of thousands of your citizens are leaving the country. Tens of thousands protesters, led by the leaders of the opposition, regularly hold rallies at the centre of your capital demanding your immediate resignation.
What do you do? ....
Baptism Matters  Editorial
Միայն Սեւ Ակնոցներ Չենք Դներ… Դոկտ.  Մինաս Գոճայեան
The Good Life in Ottoman Deutschland Jirair Tutunjian
Buying Their Silence? (Cartoon) Lucine Kasbarian
Թուրքը Եւ Խիղճը Ոսկան Մխիթարեան
Canadian Politician Receives Mkhitar Gosh Medal
Armenia’s Oligarchy’s Corrupting Influence on the Diaspora 
Dr. Berge A. Minassian

Հիմա Ի՞նչ Հրայր Կարապետեան
Return to Historic Armenia  Jirair Tutunjian
Ե՞րբ է պահը Համօ Մոսկոֆեան
War, Refugees and Passports Alan Whitehorn
Յո՞ Երթաս, Հա՛յ Ժողովուրդ ...  Աւետիս Եափուճեան
Conservative Party Pledges to Open Consular Office in Armenia  ACCA
Unionist Terror Against Anatolian Minorities Sait Çetinoğlu
Պահպանողականները - The Conservatives Մեթր Պարգեւ Դաւիթեան
A 60-Year-Old Crime Uncovered  Avedis Kevorkian
Պարոյր Աղպաշեանի Իւրօրինակ Գիրքը 
Դոկտ. Փրոֆ. Սամուէլ Մուրատեան

Stand by Armenia Now and Forever: Babies -- or Bust?
Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian, Ph.D.
Vivien Leigh’s Armenian Roots  Liz Chater
Turkish Intellectuals Who Have Recognized the Genocide
Raffi Balian MD



The Six-Pointed Star

Among the many symbols ancient Armenians used was the six-pointed star for architectural purposes. They believed the star held magical powers and thus incorporated it in their buildings, particularly places of worship. Thus one can find many Armenian churches that are constructed in the shape of a six-pointed star to support the dome or simply as a sacred decoration protecting the church. The exterior walls of St. Echmiadzin (built in 303) have many hexagram decorations.Read More
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Dr. Dikran Abrahamian · 15 Bridle Rd. · Penetanguishene, On L9M 1J5 · Canada

Armenian Institute ... Fragments of lost Homelands...Dr Armen Marsoobian


Armenian News... A Topalian... Another event for your genocide commemoration diary:



    • Tuesday, November 3, 2015
    • 7:30pm 9:00pm 

The FT 
25 September 2015

In the middle of the Venetian lagoon, near the Lido, lies a remarkable 
island that escapes the radar of checklist tourists. It is an oasis of 
calm and spacious gardens, fragrant with pine, roses and the residual 
trail of incense. In the silence, you hear birdsong, the thrice daily 
tolling of bells and the plangent echo of Armenian chants. For an hour 
or so each day, you will also hear a guide showing a small group the 
treasures and achievements of this place, which have been admired by 
luminaries including Pope Pius VII, Lord Byron, George Sand and Richard 
Wagner. If you are lucky, that guide might be Father Hamazasp 
Kechichian, one of just 17 souls living on the island in buildings 
dating from the 18th century. 

The island, San Lazzaro degli Armeni, has been home to a community of 
Mekhitarist monks — Armenian Catholics who follow the Armenian rite 
and liturgy — since a monastery was founded on the former leper colony 
by the eponymous Abbot Mekhitar in 1717. For Kechichian, the 
tranquillity is a far cry from the troubles that besiege his home town 
of Kessab, near the Turkish border in Syria. 

“The attack from rebel forces on 21 March 2014 — [Syrian] Mother’s 
Day, as it happens — was completely unexpected,” he says. “Rebels 
launched missiles from Turkey, then crossed the 
border . . . Churches and icons were destroyed; houses burnt. My 
grandfather’s tomb was [desecrated]. Seven-hundred families fled with 
nothing. My family took refuge in Latakia, then Anjar [Lebanon] and 
returned after the Syrian army retook Kessab in mid-June. They found 
nothing left. Everyone must start again from zero. And there is still a 

Kechichian was born into the predominantly Armenian community of Kessab 
in 1980. “It is unique among towns of the diaspora,” he says. 
“Armenians have lived there for over 500 years, the last remnants of 
the ancient Kingdom of Cilicia. Our ancient traditions are still 
practised — oral traditions. We even have our own dialect.” He 
recalls a blissful childhood. “My cousins used to come every summer 
from Aleppo, and we would stay in my grandmother’s house to pick 
apples. Kessab is famous for its apples. Then in autumn, we would make 
grape syrup. It was a beautiful place — and had many tourists until 
recently. The people are simple and very hospitable. There is beautiful 
nature, mountains, sea, fresh air . . . It is a lost paradise.” 

At the age of 15, Kechichian left his home town. “I decided I wanted 
to become a priest,” he says, “so I spent two years in an Armenian 
Catholic seminary in Lebanon. My mother is Armenian Apostolic 
[Orthodox], my brother works in an Armenian Protestant school. I chose 
the Mekhitarist order because Mekhitar worked for all Armenians, 
without distinction.” 

In 1997 Kechichian arrived at the mother seat of the Mekhitarists, San 
Lazzaro, where his uncle was abbot. Three years later, philosophical 
and theological studies took him to Rome, then back to Lebanon, before 
he  returned to Venice where he was ordained at San Lazzaro in 2007. 
As well as working on a thesis about feasts dedicated to the church, he i
s also vice-rector of the seminary, with responsibility for the island’s 
40,000 annual visitors and the kitchens, where he consults with the 
cook on daily menus, occasionally donning an apron himself. “It’s 
usually Italian food,” he says, “but sometimes we make Armenian 
dishes out of nostalgia . . . On feast days, we drink Mekhitarine — a 
liqueur made to a 16th-century recipe by our sister-monastery in 
Vienna. Here, we make rose-petal jam, from the lilac-coloured roses 
in our gardens.” 

Kechichian has special dispensation from the abbot to make daily trips 
to the Lido to collect bread and post, as well as weekly visits to the 
market for vegetables and monthly trips to Venice “for a big shop”. 
Meals are taken in silence in a wood-panelled refectory, where the 
abbot sits beneath a painting of the Last Supper while a novice reads 
the scriptures from a pulpit above. 

Typically, the monks rise at 6am. “We have prayers three times a day, 
including Mass,” says Kechichian. 

The monks of San Lazzaro have long been famed for their scholarship, 
and translations. The monastery’s museums and libraries represent the 
largest repository of Armenian culture in the diaspora. They also 
contain 30,000 European printed books, dating from 1400 to 1800, and 
4,500 manuscripts dating from 862AD, including early translations of 
ancient works whose originals have been lost. 

From 1789 until 1996, the monastery operated its own printing press 
and, at its height, the polyglot monks published works in 36 languages. 
Such scholarship proved to be the saviour of the community: Napoleon 
designated San Lazzaro an academic institution, thereby sparing it from 
the destruction suffered by other monasteries. 

“My most important education — my spiritual and cultural values — 
come from Kessab and San Lazzaro,” says Kechichian, who stays in 
regular contact with his family in Syria via Skype and WhatsApp. “I am 
suffering for all Armenians and for all the people of Syria. It is a 
beautiful country, with so much culture, so much history. All 
destroyed. The Latin bishop of Aleppo was asking ‘How can the west
let this happen?’” 

Five hours have passed in conversation. “I’m sorry,” says 
Kechichian, “I must go. Visitors are arriving for a tour, and I will 
give a talk about culture and history.” Perhaps this will take place 
in the book-lined room where Byron spent six months in 1816, studying 
the Armenian language under the tutelage of the monks. “A 
seventh-century BC Egyptian mummy lives there now,” says Kechichian. 
“The gift of an Egyptian prime minister. It is very popular with 



● Venice is an important cultural crossroads 

● Many Armenians visit the monastery and it is rewarding to tell them 
about their culture and history 

● San Lazzaro is one of the main spiritual centres for Armenians 
around the world 


● It can be very cold and damp in winter, stifling in summer 

● Infrequent boat service to San Lazzaro 

● Only a tiny Armenian community (20 families) in Venice 


● Sitting on Lord Byron’s Hill in the monastery gardens opposite the 
Lido in the summer — a good place to meditate 

● Watching the sunset over Venice from the roof of the monastery’s 
boat garage — we call it the Octagon 

● Bernardo Strozzi’s painting of the Annunciation in the church 

_Teresa Levonian Cole was a guest of the St Regis Venice San Clemente 
Palace hotel and Kirker Holidays_ 
02 Oct 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

One of the divisions of the Azerbaijani armed forces stationed in
Nakhijevan attempted to violate the state border with Armenia at about
22:30, October 1, the Armenian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The incident took place at the south-western sector of the
Armenian-Azerbaijani border, in the direction of Yeraskh.

The Armenian armed forces were quick to detect the attack in the area
between the military positions of the two countries and prevented
the infringement attempt. The rival retreated as a result of exchange
of fire.

The Ministry of Defense warns that any attempt to escalate the
situation at the shared border in the direction of Nakhijevan will
be strictly punished. 

RFE/RL Report 
Farming Dangerous For Life In Armenian Border Village
Nane Sahakian

The residents of Paravakar have stopped taking cover in their
basements and other makeshift bomb shelters for the last few days, but
life is still far from back to normal in this village on Armenia's
border with Azerbaijan.

For many of them, farming remains a life-threatening activity due to
continuing gunfire from nearby Azerbaijani army positions overlooking
their vineyards. Consequently, they are unable to harvest what has
long been the main source of income in their wine-growing community.

Paravakar is one of two dozen villages in Armenia's northern Tavush
province located dangerously close to the heavily militarized
Azerbaijani border. Skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops
stationed in the area have remained a regular occurrence even after a
Russian-mediated truce halted the war in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1994.

The Tavush villages came under unusually heavy Azerbaijani fire on
September 24, which left three Armenian civilians, all of them women,
dead. One of the victims, the 83-year-old Paytsar Aghajanian, was
killed by a mortar shell that landed in Paravakar. At least eight
Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers were killed near Karabakh in the
following days.

Many houses in Paravakar carry traces of the long-running ceasefire
violations and are in need of repairs. "See, there is a big bullet in
there," one local resident told RFE/RL's Armenian service
(, pointing to a deep hole on the front wall of his

Tensions on the frontlines appear to have eased in the last few days,
with Paravakar residents no longer spending nights in their basements
and rooms turned into bomb shelters. But they are continuing to
grapple with another security problem that has no solution in sight.

A large part of the village's vineyards covering 20 hectares of
agricultural land is particularly close to the Azerbaijani army
positions, making it extremely dangerous for their owners to pick
their grapes during the harvesting period which traditionally starts
in September.

"We can't collect our harvest," complained one woman, whose family
owns one of those vineyards. "No trucks and tractors dare to approach
my plot of land. I don't know what to do."

"We can't graze cattle either," said another woman. "Azerbaijani army
posts are right behind that mountain. We have only one cow and we have
to sell it."

Other Paravakar farmers are lucky to own land and pastures in other,
safer parts of the border area. They believe that the Armenian
government should help their more disadvantaged neighbors.

"Let the authorities help all those people whose vineyards are on the
line of fire," one young man said as he and his family members worked
at their vineyard. "They should pay some compensation. The people are
suffering a lot."

"People living here are heroes," said another man. "If the state helps
us a little there will be no out-migration from here."

"There must be a difference in the government's treatment of residents
of Yerevan and border villages. Life is much tougher here," he added.

The Armenian government faced similar calls from opposition groups
before introducing late last year tax breaks for residents of 31
border communities. The government also began subsidizing electricity,
natural gas and irrigation water supplied to them. The aid package was
dismissed as insufficient by opposition lawmakers. 

The military potential of Azerbaijan is not such that it would enable
it to start a war.

Thomas de Waal, a senior associate at the Washington-based Carnegie
Endowment, and who specializes primarily in the South Caucasus region,
stated the aforementioned at a discussion on Friday.

De Waal stressed that this, first and foremost, is another big risk
for the Azerbaijani regime.

He noted that Azerbaijan is using heavy military equipment, and this
is very bad and it has a great risk of resumption of war.

The analyst added that the situation in Azerbaijan is becoming more
unpredictable due to the falling oil prices, and therefore Azerbaijan's
unlimited wealth is being consumed.

As per Thomas de Waal, there is a peril that both Armenia and
Azerbaijan are interested in "playing" the Karabakh playing card and
this is also an unpredictable moment.

On September 25, the Azerbaijani armed forces shelled one of the
northeastern protection areas of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR)
Defense Army unit. The fire was opened from Turkish-made reactive
rocket propelled howitzers (TR-107). Consequently, four NKR Defense
Army soldiers died from shrapnel wounds, and there are sixteen wounded
military servicemen. 
Haikazn Ghahriyan, Editor-in-Chief
02 October 2015

In September the Armenian armed forces answered the Azerbaijani
aggression with several tough strikes causing significant losses
to Azerbaijan. The leadership of the Armenian army announced about
its new tactics: it will no longer wait for Azerbaijan's actions
to silence it. The Armenian armed forces will regularly hit the
Azerbaijani positions and act more proactively.

The Armenian officials have announced at different instances that
Azerbaijan is behaving like a terrorist organization. Hence, Azerbaijan
should be treated like a terrorist organization.

Recently the representatives of Armenia have brought up the issue of
the attitude of the international community in different international
organizations, including the PACE. Namely, the international community
is putting an equal mark between the actions of the conflict sides.

>From Serzh Sargsyan to the Armenian representatives to the PACE,
everyone has announced that in this situation nothing is left but to
force Azerbaijan to choose peace and the international community is
accountable for its stance. This means that Armenia is implementing
"artillery preparedness" to use its new tactics.

What does "international community puts an equal mark" mean? It means
that at this stage the conflict sides have a carte blanche to resolve
their problems. Apparently, the carte blanche is with Armenia.

Evidence to this is that the notion "Karabakh issue" is omitted
from the international terminology. Instead, the notion "area of the
Karabakh conflict" is used. This indicates a pause in the "negotiation

In fact, this is a common international practice, a way of maturing
of a new situation.

The defense ministry officials have announced that the purpose
of the new tactics in the conflict area is to force Azerbaijan to
accept a new ceasefire agreement. In fact, the 1994 truce was not a
binding document and was aimed at saving Azerbaijan from a historic
disaster rather. Then Russia saved Azerbaijan, and time showed that
this agreement does not regulate the main issues. From this point of
view, the stance of the leadership of the Armenian army is crisp and
clear - achieve an agreement which will address the issue of security
and peace.

Hence the new tactics of Armenia is delineated. The Armenian armed
forces can address this issue. However, pending is the issue of
the political basis for the actions of the armed forces, namely how
adequate and consistent to the new tactics and how independent the
actions of the political leadership of Armenia will be to rule out the
entry of "peacekeepers" of the third countries to the conflict area.

The 1994 truce which is not a binding document was the shortcoming
of the political leadership then. Another such shortcoming may this
time do great harm to Armenia. 

At 3:24 am local time today, on October 2 the Seismic Protection
Service of Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and
Emergency Situations recorded a 5.3 magnitude earthquake on the border
of Nakhijevan and Armenia's Syunik province, 20 km from the city of
Kajaran, according to the press service of the ministry.

The earthquake measured 3 at its epicenter. Its coordinates were
39.26 degree N, 45.97 degree E. Tremors were also felt in the city
of Kajaran.