RELIGION > 2,000 Armenians flock to mass in ancient restored church

ANKARA - Agence France-Presse

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Around 2,000 Armenians from Turkey and the diaspora flocked to a recently restored ancient church on a tiny island in the east of the country for an annual mass today, media reported.
Boats provided a shuttle service for pilgrims from all over Turkey, and some from Armenia and elsewhere in Europe, to the isle of Akdamar (Akhtamar in Armenian) on Lake Van, to the 10th century Church of the Holy Cross, Anatolia news agency said.
Turkish authorities restored the church between 2005 and 2007, which then opened as a museum. Mass was celebrated there for the first time in 95 years in 2010.
According to the Turkish tourism ministry, the church attracted nearly 30,000 visitors in 2010, and similar number in 2011.
Monsignor Aram Atessian, the acting Armenian patriarch, presided over this year's mass, attended by 2,000 faithful, of whom only a few dozen were able to watch inside the church, the rest following proceedings from outside.
The congregation prayed for peace in the world at a time when Turkey's neighbour Syria, which also has a large community of Armenians, is being torn apart by a conflict which has left thousands of people dead since it erupted in March 2011.
Today the Armenian community in Turkey, which numbers around 70,000, is concentrated in Istanbul.
Neighbours Turkey and Armenia do not have diplomatic relations and a move towards reconciliation launched in 2009 has not borne fruit.


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V Tiger

9/9/2012 8:17:23 PM

This church is so small that it can only hold max few dozens of people.Read the article.If it was an arms depot then it would have either blown up or Turkey which restored the church would have shown the evidence to the world.Van was the Armenian capital for centuries until the Turks together with some Kurdish tribes ethnically cleansed the Armenians from their homeland of the Armenian Highlands or Western Armenia.Armenians are the indigenous,aborigine people of these lands.

Tevfik Alp

9/9/2012 6:42:03 PM

Very positive attempts of The Government of Turkey to restore the church, to show tolerance for their religious services. I hope Armenian Government re-evaluates the recent signals of friendship from Turkey, instead perpetuating almost a century old vendetta. It is obvious, restored relationship in between both countries will be a great benefit for the people.


9/9/2012 4:06:51 PM

It is ironic that this mangificient church, once a Tashnak arms depot in their fight to cleanse Eastern Turkey of its Muslim population where Armenian clergy and Church played a leading role, now is restored by the very Turkish nation Armeninas seeked to destroy and is open for prayers after a century. This time only peaceful purposes involved. I dont know why it would not be open as a Church. It would be good to see an Armenian community spring to life in thier ancestoral lands, minus hate.
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