September 10, 2015
Four representatives of the clergy from the Catholicosate of Cilicia amidst the ruins of the Catholicosate of Sis where a requiem service was offered and the pontifical message of Catholicos Aram I was read. The clergy in photo are: Very Rev. Fr. Houssig Mardirosian, Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, Very Rev. Fr. Torkom Donoian, and Very Rev. Fr. Bedros Manuelian.
The Pontifical Message by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, which was read amidst the ruins of the centuries-old Catholicosate of Sis, will be read in all Prelacy parishes this Sunday on the occasion of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

The message was read on August 22 by representative clergy of the Catholicosate, who also offered a Requiem Service in memory of the deceased Catholicoi who lived and served at the Sis Catholicosate from 1293-1915.

In his message, the Pontiff referred to the Armenian Genocide, and the demand that the Sis Catholicosate be returned to its rightful owner, the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia. In April the Catholicosate filed a lawsuit in the Turkish Constitutional Court to regain ownership of the historic headquarters of the Armenian Church that includes the catholicosate, the monastery, and Cathedral of St. Sophia. This major Christian holy site is located in Sis (now named Kozan) in Cilicia (south central Turkey).

Read His Holiness’ message in Armenian or English.

Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Worcester, Massachusetts this weekend where on Sunday he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at Holy Trinity Church and preside over the Exaltation of the Holy Cross services and the reading of the Pontifical Message of His Holiness Aram I. The Prelate will also preside over the parish’s 81st anniversary dinner that will take place following the services.

Archbishop Oshagan participated in the National Leadership Convention organized by In Defense of Christians (IDC) to publicize the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. Speakers focused on how to advocate in the U.S. Congress, build coalitions, and raise awareness. The conference took place in Washington, DC, September 9-11. An Ecumenical Prayer Service took place yesterday evening, September 9, at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Capitol Hill.
Archbishop Oshagan delivers his opening message and prayer at the AYF Olympics. Photo by Tamar Kanarian.
Last weekend Archbishop Oshagan was in Providence, Rhode Island, where on Sunday he officially opened the track and field games of the Armenian Youth Federation’s 82nd Olympics. 

In his message His Eminence praised the Armenian Youth Federation for its 82 years of service to the Armenian youth. He spoke about the extraordinary events that took place during the centennial year of 2015 saying, “The year will end, but our duty as Armenians never ends. We must make every effort to continue the momentum of the Centennial…. We have an obligation to continue the work of our ancestors, who established communities in new places, built churches, schools, and community centers under the most difficult of circumstances.”

Read the message here.
Bible readings for Sunday, September 13, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, are: Isaiah 49:13-23; Galatians 6:14-18; John 3:13-21.

“No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” (John 3:13-21)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
A reliquary from the Cilician Treasures Museum in Antelias, Lebanon containing a piece of the Holy Cross.
This Sunday, September 13, the Armenian Church commemorates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Khachverats), which is the last of the five Tabernacle Feasts observed by the Armenian Church during the liturgical year.

This holiday is a celebration of the Holy Cross and is commemorated by most Christian churches on September 14. The Armenian Church celebrates it on the Sunday closest to the 14th. It is the oldest of the feasts devoted to the cross. The cross, once a means of death for criminals, gradually became the dominant symbol of the Christian world, an object of reverence and worship, and symbol of triumph over death. Christ’s apostle St James, Patriarch of Jerusalem, elevated the Holy Cross during a religious ceremony chanting the hymn, “Khachee oh Krisdos Yergeer Bakanemk,” (To Your Cross We Bow),” thus accepting the cross as a symbol of salvation and an object of utmost veneration. James was later martyred in Jerusalem, and upon his grave stands the expansive Armenian monastery of St. James in Jerusalem. 

There are four feasts devoted to the cross in the Armenian liturgical calendar, with the Exaltation being the most important. The other three are: Apparition of the Holy Cross; Holy Cross of Varak; and Discovery of the Cross. Each of these four holidays devoted to the Holy Cross are related to the life and the salvific work of our Lord.

The ceremony for the Exaltation begins with the decoration of the Cross with sweet basil (rehan), a sign of royalty, and also as a symbol of the living cross that is carried through the church by the priest, deacons, altar servers, and choir in a procession. After the Bible readings, the officiating priest lifts the Cross and makes the sign of the Cross, and blesses the four corners of the world (Andastan service), asking God’s blessings and bounties for the prosperity of the Armenian Church and for the fruitfulness of the land and all the holy places and their inhabitants.

The Khachveratz ceremony was prepared by Catholicos Sahag Dzoraporetsi (677-703). He also composed the hymn that is sung on this day. As with other Tabernacle Feasts, the Exaltation is preceded with a period of fasting (Monday to Friday), and followed by a memorial day (Merelotz).

Name day commemorations this Sunday include: Khatchadour, Khatchig, Khatcherets, Rehan, Khatchkhatoun, Khachouhi, Khatchperouhi, Khosrov, Khosrovanoush, Khrosrovitoukhd, and Nshan.

The day after the five Tabernacle Feasts is a Memorial Day in the Armenian Liturgical Calendar. Traditionally the Divine Liturgy is celebrated on this day and the faithful go to the cemeteries where graves are blessed to honor the memory of their departed loved ones.

Remembering the dead is an important ritual for the living. In a sense it is an act of faith and love, not meant necessarily to achieve understanding or bring healing. It is simply to remember, as we are doing this week with the remembrances of September 11, 2001.

The Siamanto Academy, sponsored by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC) will begin its 2015-16 academic year this Saturday, September 12, 10 am to 1 pm. Students ages 13 to 18 will explore Armenian history, culture, and current issues. The classes will take place at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey, on the second Saturday of the month. For information & registration contact ANEC by phone (212-689-7810) or by email (
His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, addressed the International Conference that took place in Athens on September 5. The conference was organized y KAICIID Center in Vienna with the cooperation of the Ecumenical Patriarch. The theme was “Supporting citizenship rights and peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.” More than fifty Christian and Muslim leaders from the Middle East and a number of scholars participated.

Addressing the issue of violence, His Holiness called fundamentalism, “the major threat today not only to the Middle East but also the world at large.” He said it must be met by a coordinated action by all nations, “Because globalization has broken down all barriers between cultures, races and religions, international and interreligious dialogue must go beyond the exchange of ideas and interpretations; it must promote cooperation based on mutual trust, without which there can be no peaceful coexistence.” He noted that Muslims and Christians have lived together for centuries, although sometimes with tension and conflict. “Their togetherness defines the local social and political fabric and it is tragic that Muslim fundamentalism is destroying the long-existing model of coexistence in the region.”

The Catholicos reminded the conference attendees that the Middle East is not only the cradle of Christianity, but also a home for Churches. “As citizens of the countries of the Middle East, Christians refused to accept minority status; although religions divided people, citizenship united them by giving the people the full right to participate in and equally contribute to all aspects of societal life.” He invited the Middle Eastern leaders to reflect further on the concept of co-citizenship as a way of overcoming differences between communities and violence justified in the name of religion.

His Holiness Aram I, attended the Holy Mass at St. Mary’s Syriac Catholic Monastery to celebrate the beatification of Flaviano Michel Melki by Pope Francis. Bishop Flaviano was martyred during the same period as the Armenian Genocide in 1915. Bishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate of Lebanon, and Very Rev. Fr. Housig Mardirossian, Ecumenical Officer of the Catholicosate, accompanied His Holiness.

At the end of the Mass, celebrated by Patriarch Younan II, and the reading of the message of Pope Franis, religious leaders were invited to give their messages. The Catholicos spoke about the Armenian martyrs of the Genocide and of Bishop Flaviano, and said that these martyrs, who are always present in the life of the Church, are crying out to Christians to hold on to their rights in the Middle East and continue bearing witness to their Christian faith despite the violence in the region.
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Massacre of Baku (September 14-15, 1918)
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Baku was, after Tiflis, the second Armenian city of the Caucasus. By the end of the same century, the Armenian population of the city had been practically wiped out.

One of the chapters of that ethnic cleansing was the massacre of September 1918. While the Third Ottoman Army Corps was stopped in its advance in the battles of May 1918 that allowed Armenia to become an independent state, the Second Army Corps continued its advance through the line Gharakilise-Dilijan-Ghazakh (Ijevan)-Elizavetpol (Gandzak, Ganja) towards Baku.

Azerbaijan had proclaimed its independence on May 27, 1918 with Elizavetpol as its capital. Baku, the richest city in the country with its oil fields, had been governed since April 1918 by a Soviet (council) led by Bolshevik Stepan Shahumian. The Baku Soviet collaborated with the local branch of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation to establish control over the city and its environs. While the Bolsheviks had the revolution in mind, the Armenians were primarily concerned with physical survival. However, by the beginning of summer, the Soviet found itself under increased threat by the Ottoman army, which had been enthusiastically received by the newly created Azerbaijani government, presided by M. Fatali Khan-Khoyski. Both sides clashed in June and July, but the joint Ottoman-Azerbaijani offensive could not be stopped by the forces loyal to the Baku Soviet, which, with no promise of material support from Moscow, was forced to turn to a British expeditionary force stationed in Persia under the command of Major-General Lionel C. Dunsterville. Although Shahumian had been ordered by Moscow to deny entry to the British, he was overruled by his peers in the Soviet, which formally requested help in late July. On July 31 Shahumian and the other Bolshevik members resigned from their posts and the Centro-Caspian Dictatorship assumed control of the city.

The size of the British force, however, proved to be too small to make much of an impact. In August, the Ottoman military, led by the so-called Army of Islam headed by Nuri Pasha (Ottoman War Minister Enver Pasha’s half-brother), launched a new assault against the frontline positions, which were primarily manned by Armenians, who were forced to retreat despite some initial victories. In the first week of September, a joint Ottoman-Azerbaijani force composed of 15,000 men advanced without much resistance toward Baku and reached the suburbs by September 13. Meanwhile, the Muslim population of Baku prepared to welcome the entry of the Ottoman army. The Armenian troops were too ill-prepared to halt the advance and Dunsterville refused to retain his force, which evacuated from Baku on September 14 and sailed to Enzeli, in Persia, leaving the city virtually defenseless.

A terrible panic ensued once the invaders entered Baku. The Armenians crowded the harbor in a frantic effort to escape the fate that they knew very well. Regular Ottoman troops were not allowed to enter the city for two days, so that the local irregulars (bashibozuks) would conduct the usual looting and pillaging. Despite this order, regular Ottoman troops participated alongside the irregulars and the Azeris of Baku in the plundering, and then turned their fury against the Armenian population. Calls by German officers attached to the Ottoman command staff to treat the local population with leniency were ignored.
Armenians fleeing the massacre through the Azerbaijani countryside. 
On September 16, the Ottoman divisions formally entered the city in a victory parade reviewed by the Ottoman High Command. Baku would subsequently be proclaimed as the capital of the newly established Azerbaijani Republic.

According to a special commission formed by the Armenian National Council of Baku, a total of 8,988 Armenians were massacred, among which were 5,248 Armenian inhabitants, 1,500 Armenian refugees from other areas of the Caucasus, and 2,240 Armenians whose corpses were found in the streets but remained unidentified. Other estimates range up to 30,000 people.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (
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Armenian Prelacy
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(Pastor of St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York)

This week’s podcast features:
Among Other Things with Veh and Fr. Nareg
An Interview with Very Rev. Father Sahag Yemishian, Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Worcester, MA

Click on the image above to link to the Podcast

We Remember
September 11, 2001

At this time of remembrance, we express our prayers of hope in the resurrection of our Lord, for the souls of those who lost their lives fourteen years ago in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.  

“The Lord alone is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress. I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 62
SIAMANTO ACADEMY—Meets every second Saturday of the month beginning September 12 at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: or 212-689-7810.

September 11—11th Annual Armenian All Saints Golf Outing, Old Orchard Country Club, 700 W. Rand Road, Mount Prospect, Illinois; 1 pm check in; 2 pm shotgun start. Golf $150 per person; hole sponsor $250. Includes golf with cart, lunch, drinks, dinner, and door prizes.

September 12—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Nareg Saturday School opening and registration.

September 13—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Sunday School registration and opening.

September 13—St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain and Hartford, Annual Church Picnic at Winding Trails in Farmington. Family and Friends Day; Bring a Friend. New spectacular venue for our picnic this year. Lots of sporting activities for the children and young adults and Holiday Boutique “Trinkets and Treasures.” Pavilion next to hall with lots of room in case of inclement weather. Armenian food and live music.

September 13—Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Harvest and Blessing of Madagh.

September 13—Picnic Festival, sponsored by St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, Noon to 5 pm. Shish, losh, chicken kebab, vegetarian dinners. Featuring Siroun Dance Group, dancing to music of John Berberian, Leon Janikian, Jason Naroian, and John Arzigian. Family games and activities. For information or 978-685-5038.

September 13—81st anniversary of Holy Trinity Church, 635 Grove Avenue, Worcester, Massachusetts. Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy, deliver the sermon, and preside over the anniversary dinner in the church’s Danielian Hall. For dinner reservations contact the church office (508-852-2414) before September 6.

September 17—Sts. Vartanantz Church, New Jersey, 13th Annual Golf Classic, River Vale Country Club in River Vale, New Jersey.

September 20—“25 Years in Philadelphia,” a banquet in honor of Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian’s 25 years of service to the Philadelphia Armenian community, 2 pm at Founders Hall, St. Gregory Armenian Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

September 20—Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Merrimack Valley presents “Weaving Armenia’s Story through Music,” a centennial music performance by violinist Haigaram Hovsepian, accompanied by his mom Ani Hovsepian, pianist. Keynote speaker, Henry Therriault; 3 pm, North Andover High School, 430 Osgood Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, followed by reception. Mistress of Ceremonies, Janet Jeghelian.

October 5-9—Clergy Retreat, gathering of clergy from Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies, hosted by Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey.

October 15—Lecture by Prof. Siobhan Nash-Marshall, Professor of Philosophy and the Mary T. Clark chair of Christian Philosophy at Manhattanville College, at the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39th Street, New York City.

October 18—Presentation of the Album “Retrospective” by well-known Canadian photographer Kaloust Babian, at Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, at 1 pm. Organized by St. Illuminator’s Cathedral and Hamazkayin of New York.

October 24—Concert dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide featuring singers Nune Yesayan and Sibil, with participation of the Hamazkayin NJ Nayiri Dance Ensemble and Arekag Chorus, 7:30 pm at BergenPac, 30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, New Jersey. Tickets: $85, $65. $45. For information: Ani Mouradian 973-224-2741.

October 25—Breakfast in the church hall ($10) after the Liturgy, St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, sponsored by the Ladies Guild.

October 28—Near East Foundation’s Centennial Gala Celebration, 6:30 pm, Cipriani, 25 Broadway, New York. Save the date.

October 31—100th anniversary of Hudson County (NJ) Shakeh Chapter of Armenian Relief Society, under auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Chart House Restaurant, 1700 Harbor Boulevard, Weehawken, New Jersey at 7:30 pm. Sponsored by Dr. Kourkin and Talene Tchorbajian. Featuring Elie Berberian from Canada. Donation $100. For reservations: Knar Kiledjian (201)943-4056; Silva Takvorian (201)779-6744; Marina Yacoubian (201)978-8926.

November 1—Arminstring Ensemble, St. Illuminator Cathedral’s John Pashalian Hall.

November 6 & 7—59th Annual Bazaar, St. Stephen Church, Watertown, Massachusetts, 10 am to 9:30 pm at Armenian Cultural & Educational Center, 47 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, Massachusetts. Meals served from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm (take-out available). Delicious meals, Armenian pastries, Gourmet, Gift Shoppe, Raffles, Attic Treasures. Live auction Friday and Saturday at 7 pm. For information: 617-924-7562.

November 6, 7 & 8—Annual Bazaar and Food Festival of Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey. Live entertainment Friday and Saturday; Children’s activities; vendors; homemade Manti, Kufte, Sou Buereg, Choreg, and more. Traditional Khavourma dinner on Sunday. Extensive Mezze and desert menu for your Thanksgiving table available for take-out.

November 12—An evening with Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, Inc., Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library (previously National Heritage Museum), 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, Massachusetts, celebrating 40 years and beyond. Reservations and information: or (617) 923-4542.

November 15—“Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future, 1925-2015,” St. Stephen’s Church, New Britain, Connecticut, 90th Anniversary celebration. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, Prelate, will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and preside over the banquet at Farmington Club, 162 Town Farm Road, Farmington, Connecticut. Details to follow.

November 14 & 15—Armenian Fest, hosted by Sts. Vartanantz Church, Providence, Rhode Island, at Rhodes-On-The-Pawtuxet (1 Rhodes Place, off Broad Street) in Cranston. The largest indoor festival, serving delicious shish and losh kebob, chicken and kufta dinners and Armenian pastries. Live dance music. Armenian dance group performance on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. 50/50 main raffle prizes, hourly raffles, silent auction, country store, gift baskets, flea-market, arts and crafts. For more information:

November 22—Presentation of Goodbye, Antoura: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide by Karnig Panian, at St Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York. The book will be presented by Dr. Herand Markarian; Mrs. Houry Boyamian, daughter of the author, will provide insight about her father’s memoir that was just recently translated into English.

December 5—Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church Annual Bazaar, 315 Church Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, 10 am to 4:30 pm. Dinners served from 11:30 am. Details to follow.
December 6—ARS Holiday Dinner, St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, after church services. Save the date. Details to follow.

December 20—“Soup, Sandwiches, and Bingo,” St. Stephen’s Church Hall, New Britain, Connecticut, following church services, sponsored by Ladies Guild.
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