Archive for the ‘Feast Day’ Category

       This Sunday, August 14, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption (Verapokhoum) of the Holy Mother of God and the Blessing of the Grapes. The word verapokhoum in classical Armenian means “transport up.” According to tradition, when Mary, the mother of Christ, died she was buried by the apostles. Bartholomew, who was not present at her funeral, wished to visit her grave. When the gravestone was lifted they were surprised to find that the body had disappeared. It was believed that Christ had come and taken his mother to the Heavenly Kingdom. Based on this event, the Church Fathers established the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is one of the five tabernacle feast days in the Armenian Church’s liturgical calendar. The feast is preceded by a week (five days) of fasting and followed by a memorial day.

       Because Bartholomew was very fond of the Holy Mother, the apostle John gave him an image of her (which she had given to John). Bartholomew took this image with him to Armenia to Tarpnots Kar in the province of Antsev, Vasbouragan (Western Armenia) where a convent of nuns, Hokyats Vank (Monastery of the Spirits) was built and where the icon was kept. Most images of Bartholomew show him holding this icon.

       The concept of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption is an old one as seen in sacred prose and poetry dedicated to the Holy Mother. However, it did not become a basic doctrine of the church until the ninth century and it was in the twelfth century that the feast was called “The Assumption.”

       The Feast of the Assumption is the name day for those named Mariam, Maro, Mary, Mari, Mayrenie, Maroush, Serpouhi, Dirouhi, Takouhi, Lousig, Arpine, Arpenig, Markarid, Nazig, Azniv, Arousiag, Seta, Verzhin, and Arshalouys.

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This Sunday, July 31, the Armenian Church celebrates one of her five Tabernacle Feasts—Transfiguration (Aylagerbutiyoun / Vartavar). The Feast of Transfiguration (also known as Baydzaragerbutyoun) is celebrated fourteen weeks after Easter, and therefore can fall between June 28 and August 1. It commemorates an episode in the New Testament recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Peter. (See the Bible reading above for the text from the Gospel according to St. Matthew).

       The Transfiguration took place on the “holy mountain” (believed to be Mt. Tabor) where Jesus had gone with Peter, James, and John to pray. As He was praying, “His face shone like the sun and His garments became white as light.” The Patriarch Moses and Prophet Elijah appeared at His side. It was at this moment that His appearance was “transfigured” revealing himself as God to His disciples as a voice from above said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

       As frequently done, a pagan festival was joined with this new Christian holiday. Vartavar (Festival of Roses) when Armenians would decorate the temple of the goddess Asdghig (goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and water) with roses, release doves, and engage in water games, was combined with the Feast of Transfiguration by St. Gregory the Illuminator.

       The fifth century historian Yeghishe wrote the prayer that is read in the church on this feast day: “O Lord, bless the harvest of this year and defend from all the perils, and may Your right hand, O Lord, protect us for the whole year.”

       Vartavar became a traditional day of pilgrimage to churches named in honor of St. John the Baptist. The most popular destination was the Monastery of Sourp Garabed of Mush, founded by Gregory the Illuminator in the province of Daron near Mush. (Garabed means Forerunner, referring to John the Baptist). The Monastery was large and expansive and built like a fortress in the mountains of the area, and more than 1,000 pilgrims could be accommodated. The Monastery was a stronghold of the Mamigonians, and in the latter part of the 19th century the monastery published Khrimian Hayrig’s newspaper, “Eagle of Daron.” In 1893, H.F.B. Lynch visited the monastery and later wrote an account of it in his book, Armenia: Travels and Studies, first published in 1901. The two-volume work was reprinted by the Prelacy in 1990.

       After the extermination and deportation of the Armenians in 1915 the complex ceased to exist. The monastery was blown up by the Turkish army, and the ravages of time, weather and scavengers completed its destruction. In 1998 a group of Armenian pilgrims went to this site for the first time in years (the area was off limits for a long time). Since then other pilgrims have made the trip to this once large and thriving Armenian monastery that now consists of amorphous ruins.

       This Sunday is the name day for those named Vartkes, Vartavar, Vart, Vartouhi, Alvart, Zevart, Nevart, Lousvart, Baidzar, Vartanoush, Vartiter, Varvar.

The Sourp Garabed Monastery in Mush before its destruction.

The remnants of the ruins in 1998. Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, encircled by a group of Armenian pilgrims, offers a solemn requiem service as the local inhabitants watch on the sidelines.


Posted from Eastern Prelacy’s Crossroads E-Newsletter

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  Today, July 14, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Translators, Sts. Sahag Bartev and Mesrob Mashdots. The feasts dedicated to the Holy Translators are among the most beloved celebrations for Armenians. Sahag and Mesrob are honored two times during the liturgical year: on the Thursday following the fourth Sunday after Pentecost (which is today), and on the second Saturday of October.

       St. Sahag is remembered for his strong leadership during some of the most difficult days for the Armenian Church, as well as during some of the most glorious. He is also remembered for his vast body of literary work. After the development of the Armenian alphabet, he was the guiding force for the translation of the Bible as well as in the translation of the works of the Holy Fathers.

       St. Mesrob developed the Armenian alphabet with the aid and support of St. Sahag, after a long period of travel and investigation. According to tradition, during one of his travels Mesrob was meditating in a cave in Palu, and it was there he saw a vision that helped him complete his task of creating an alphabet for the Armenian language.

       The two saints, Sahag and Mesrob, are forever linked in the minds and hearts of the Armenian people. There are many Armenian churches throughout the world named in their dual honor.

“That you may know wisdom and instruction, and understand words of insight…”
(Proverbs 1:2—the first words in the Bible to be translated into Armenian).

“The creation of the Armenian alphabet was a momentous event, a crucial turning point in the history of the nation that ensured the preservation of the Armenian identity in religion, culture, traditions, and literature for centuries to come. It unleashed the spiritual and intellectual potential of an entire people, to the extent that within the very same century a great intellectual revival occurred, giving rise to a literary output that is impressive both in quality and in quantity: the fifth century became the Golden Age of Armenian literature.”
The Heritage of Armenian Literature, Volume 1

Reposted from Crossroads E-Newsletter of the Eastern Prelacy

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       This Saturday, July 9, the Armenian Church commemorates one of the three feast days dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator: The discovery of his relics. St. Gregory is considered to be the “Apostle of Armenia.” After years of evangelizing, St. Gregory sought solitude and an ascetic life. He chose a cave on Mount Sebouh as his dwelling place. It was here that Gregory died alone. Shepherds found his body and without realizing who he was buried him under a pile of stones. Later a hermit, Karnig of Basen, who had been a disciple of St. Gregory saw a vision and went to Mount Sepouh where he found the site of Gregory’s burial. He took the remains to the village of Dortan for burial, where King Drtad was buried. Relics from the right hand of St. Gregory are at the Holy Mother See of Etchmiadzin and the Holy See of Cilicia. The Catholicoi mix the new muron  (chrism) with the old muron with the golden right hand that contains the relics.

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       This Sunday, May 27, 2012, is the Feast of Pentecost (Hokekaloust), which is celebrated fifty days after Easter. Jesus had commanded the apostles to “Go therefore to all nations and make them my disciples,” (Matthew 28:19). Recognizing the difficulty of this great responsibility, Christ had advised His disciples not to begin their teaching mission until after the “Descent of the Holy Spirit.” In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that on the day of Pentecost the apostles gathered in one place, and suddenly a strong wind seemed to fill the house in which they were assembled. “And there appeared to them flames like tongues of fire distributed among them and coming to rest on each one. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them power of utterance,” (Acts 2:2-4). It was the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shabuoth) commemorating the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, and many people from different lands had come to Jerusalem. They marveled that each one of them could understand the Apostles’ words in his own language. This day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles was the beginning of the mission of the Church to spread the Good News throughout the world. In essence Pentecost marks the birth of the Church.

       We celebrate the descent of the Spirit who comforted the apostles having rested in them in tongues of fire, blessed be he forever. We celebrate the manifestation of the Spirit; we confess him God who makes new and gives life; blessed be he forever. Today, filled with joy by the Spirit, we confess as God the Holy Spirit who is procession and fills all things; blessed be he forever. Bless the Lord, O all the works of the Lord, bless and exalt him forever. Bless him who proceeds from the Father, the Holy Spirit, of one essence with the Son and exalt him forever. Bless God who came today in tongues for fire as a word of discernment and exalt him forever.
From the Canon for the First Day of Pentecost according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church

Posted from the Eastern Prelacy’s weekly E-Newsletter

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        Next Thursday, June 2, is the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Hampartsoum), which is celebrated forty days after Easter. The universal church has celebrated the Ascension since the fourth century. According to Biblical scripture the Ascension took place in the village of Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, in the presence of our Lord’s disciples. After giving them commandments and blessings, the Lord was “received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God,” (Mark 16:19), and “a cloud received him out of their sight,” (Acts 1:9). In the early centuries of Christianity, Hampartsoum was one of the most popular feast days for the faithful and was celebrated with merriment and festivities. There are many Armenian traditions associated with this dominical feast. Perhaps the most popular one is fortune telling (vijagakhagh). 
       Today he ascended with divine power on the Father’s chariot accompanied by hosts of angels who sang and cried out: You princes, lift up your gates, and the King of glory shall come in. The powers on high were amazed and in fearful voice cried out to each other: Who is this King of glory who comes in flesh and is wonderful in power? You princes, lift up your gates and the King of glory shall come in. The lordships on high sang a new song in marvelous voice: This is the Lord of glory, the Savior of the world and the deliverer of the human race. You princes, lift up your gates, and the King of glory shall come in.
(From the Liturgical canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church).
Above explanation of the Ascension Day is re-posted from of the Eastern Prelacy’s weekly E-Newletter

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