Armenian Street Festival - 29 July 2012 - Meet Canon Patrick: author, broadcaster, a man of the cloth
Do come and meet Canon Patrick Thomas whose book “From Carmarthen to Karabagh”
will have its London launch at the Armenian Street Festival, Iverna Gardens, Kensington
Canon Patrick is Chancellor of St David’s Cathedral, Wales, and a great friend of the Armenians.
He has visited Armenia and Karabagh many times, featured Armenians and their
issues on BBC Radio 4 ‘Thought for the Day’ and ‘Prayer for the Day’. He has forged warm
relations with our Church both in Echmiadzin and in the UK. He arranged for the first
Armenian Badarak to be celebrated in St David’s, the mother church of the Anglicans in Wales,
and has a superb collection of Armenian books
Canon Patrick will be present at a dedicated stall where he is happy to sign or personalise any copies
Following Sunday Services at St. Sarkis Church, Iverna Gardens,
Kensington, London W8 6TP 10.30-12.30, you are warmly invited to meet the Canon.
A newspaper review of the book is attached but here are a few personal comments.
It is surprising how much affinity there is between two peoples remote in distance
yet sharing many of the experiences that shaped their collective personalities.
It is also even more surprising how much a well-read and enquiring person can teach
an Armenian about his people and culture.
The layout of chapters are even inspired by the design of ancient manuscripts, each
ending with a colophon.
The book is a rewarding read.
New book highlights Wales' similarities with the former Soviet Republic of Armenia
• Martin Shipton, WalesOnline
• Apr 23 2012
The mysterious disappearances of King Arthur and Wales’ foremost rebel Owain Glyndwr
have a remarkable similarity with that of one of Armenia’s greatest heroes, according to a
leading Welsh clergymen.
Canon Patrick Thomas, the Vicar of Christ Church Carmarthen and Chancellor of St David’s
Cathedral, is the author of a highly praised new book which finds numerous similarities
between Wales and Armenia, which until 22 years ago was a republic within the Soviet
On Monday From Carmarthen to Karabagh will be launched in the Temple of Peace and
Health in Cardiff.
In recent years close ties have been established between the two countries, prompting
Canon Patrick to visit Armenia for the first time in 2005. He immediately fell in love with the
eastern European country and kept going back, becoming increasingly aware of the
parallels and contrasts between Armenia and Wales.
His book has a unique structure: each chapter has an introduction, three sections focusing
on related themes from Armenia and a final section that points out relevant similarities with
In a section about Welsh and Armenian heroes, Canon Patrick writes: “Some heroes are
meant to vanish leaving no known burial place.“Moses is an obvious Biblical example. In
Welsh tradition two of our greatest warriors similarly disappear: King Arthur and Owain
“I was once rebuked by a Church of England clergyman for having described King Arthur
as Welsh rather than English in one of my books. ‘Who do you think he was fighting against,
then?’ I asked.
“An embarrassed silence ensued.”
The burial place of King Arthur is a mystery, as is that of Owain Glyndwr.
“The legend that haunted the popular imagination told of an encounter between Owain and
the abbot of Vale Crucis,” writes Canon Patrick.
“The latter had gone out in the early morning mist to say his prayers when he met the fugitive
hero. Owain rebuked the cleric for getting up too early.
“The abbot replied that Owain himself had risen too early by 100 years. From this grew the
feeling that Owain (like Arthur before him) would one day return. He too was said to be
sleeping with his warriors in a cave – perhaps one of those in which he had hidden during
his years on the run.
“In Armenia a similar role was given to Pokr Mehr, the last of the wild heroes of Sassoun,
whose exploits form a part of the national epic.
“Pokr Mehr and his horse disappeared into the Rock of Van and, so the legend goes, remain
Canon Patrick also writes movingly about the murder of more than a million Armenians in
Ottoman Turkey during the First World War – an event recognised officially as a Holocaust by
the National Assembly, but not by the UK Parliament.
The book has been praised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who writes
in a foreword: “Patrick Thomas’ distinctive voice – learned, thoughtful, compassionate and witty
– has become more and more widely known and appreciated through his writings about Wales
and the imaginative legacy of Christian faith in Wales.
“Here he turns to another subject, though without at all leaving behind his characteristic
rootedness in the local realities of Carmarthenshire.
“His love affair with Armenia began, as he tells us, some six years ago, and it has worked itself
out through many visits, through passionate advocacy and through a deep immersion in the
culture of this extraordinary nation.
“Unsurprisingly, he finds analogies with another small and mountainous country, jealous of its
language and its heritage.
“And in these pages he introduces us to some of the most poignant and beautiful literature of the
Armenians, shaped as it is by a history of appalling suffering.”
Archbishop Vahan Hovhanessian, Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Britain
and Ireland, writes: “Those of us who know Canon Patrick well know that through his passion to
learn more about the culture and history of Armenians and pursue the parallel between the
Armenian and Welsh people, he has earned the right to be an honorary ambassador of the Armenian
people to the rest of the world.”
From Carmarthen to Karabagh by Patrick Thomas is published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch at £7.50.