First baptism to take place on Akdamar for 100 years
VANA baptism ceremony will be held in a recently restored ancient church on Akdamar, a tiny island in the eastern province of Van, during an annual Divine Liturgy on Sept. 8, according to media reports.
Many Armenians in Turkey and from overseas flock to the isle of Akdamar (Akhtamar in Armenian) on Lake Van, to the 10th century Church of the Holy Cross to attend a mass that has been held once a year since 2010.
Turkish authorities restored the church between 2005 and 2007 before opening it as a museum. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated there for the first time in 95 years in 2010.
This year, a baptism ceremony will also be take place during the mass at around 11:00 a.m. on Sept. 8 in the historical church, said Muzaffer Aktuğ, head of Van provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate, according to daily Agos.
Aktuğ said they expected more people to attend this year’s service due to the ongoing peace process.
Today the Armenian community in Turkey, which numbers around 70,000, is concentrated in Istanbul.
Neighbors Turkey and Armenia do not have diplomatic relations and a move toward reconciliation launched in 2009 has not borne fruit.