Armenian church in eastern Turkey gets bell back, still lacks priest on Easter day
DİYARBAKIR / ANKARA - Doğan News Agency
Members of the Armenian community in Diyarbakır knock their eggs together, a local tradition on the Easter day. DHA photo
The Armenian community has rung the bells of Diyarbakır’s Surp Giragos Armenian Church for the first time in 98 years to celebrate the Easter holiday, but failed to hold a proper mass due to a lack of priests to take part, Doğan news ageny reported yesterday.
The church had been out of service for almost a century now, and was recently restored with a $3.200.000 budget before it was re-opened. The community visited the grounds yesterday, Easter Sunday. The bronze bell, which was built in Russia, was rung for the first time in almost a century.
The community failed to conduct a mass for Easter, however, since the Istanbul Patriarchate previously responded to a request to send priests to the church by telling the community that it would take a week for the religious official to arrive in Diyarbakır. As a result, no masses were held at the church, but the community prayed to celebrate the religious holiday nevertheless, before distributing colored eggs and pastries.
“This is our first Easter celebration since the bell was put in,” Çalış said. “This year we had the bell and the celebration was more beautiful.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan released an official statement yesterday to celebrate the Easter holiday. “We, members of a deep-rooted tradition of respecting religious faiths and differences, believe that our culture of living together in peace and safety will prevail, just as it has done so in the past,” Erdoğan said.
President Abdullah Gül also released a statement, stating that he shared “the excitement with all my heart.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis delivered a plea for peace in his first Easter Sunday message to the world, decrying the seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula after celebrating Mass at an outdoor altar before more than 250,000 people St. Peter’s Square.