Ancient Armenian church hosts 11th special mass

Ancient Armenian church hosts 11th special mass

Ancient Armenian church hosts 11th special mass

The historic Akdamar Church in the eastern province of Van has welcomed thousands from around the world for its 11th special mass, following its restoration and reopening as a museum in 2010.

The special mass was officiated by the 85th Turkish Armenian Patriarch Sahak Maşalyan. The event brought together local and international faithful who joined in prayer and hymns within the ancient church.

To reach the church, Armenian clergy and guests embarked on a 20-minute boat ride across Lake Van, arriving at the Akdamar island in the morning. The ceremony commenced at 11 a.m., with many police officers stationed on the island for security, while coast guard teams patrolled the lake to ensure the safety of attendees.

The Akdamar Church, which is over a thousand years old, serves as a significant piece of medieval Armenian religious history. It was constructed between 915 and 921 A.D. by architect Bishop Manuel under the direction of King Gagik I Artsruni. Known for its unique place in East-West Christian art, the church boasts remarkable adornments and comprehensive wall reliefs from its time, leading to its inclusion on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage on April 13, 2015.

The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry undertook renovation and restoration work to return the medieval church to its former glory. On Sept. 19, 2010, the Akdamar Church held its first service in 95 years, marking a significant milestone in its history.

After a temporary suspension of masses for three years starting in 2015 due to security concerns, the tradition was reinstated following the resolution of these issues. However, only one day of mass per year is permitted in the church.

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