Divine Liturgy and Awards Service Dedicated to the 23rd Anniversary of the Founding of the Armenian Army

On January 25, a Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin for the 23rd Anniversary of the founding of the Armenian Army, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. The celebrant of the Liturgy was His Grace Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamian, Head Chaplain of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia.

Among the attendees at the service were General Seyran Ohanian, Republic of Armenia Defense Minister; Colonel General Yuri Khachaturov, the Chief of Staff; Lieutenant General Movses Hakobyan, Nagorno Karabaugh Defense Minister; Senior Officers of the Armenian Army, Mr. Berge Setrakian, Armenian General Benevolent Union President; Diocesan Primates of the Armenian Church, benefactors of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, spiritual servants of the military units and soldiers.

During the Liturgy, Bishop Vrtanes offered a sermon touching on the important role and essence of the Armenian Army, stating in part: “Since the adoption of Christianity, when the Armenian king, the army and the whole nation were baptized in the Aratsani waters, the Armenian soldier went to the battle baptized, received forgiveness of their sins through Holy Communion; ready to fight to the end and sacrifice their lives for faith, country and the nation’s future. God grants the nations will; to have an army, church and a state, if the nations have hallowed ideas in their consciousness. Such nations are given an opportunity to build cherished values, according to the Divine will, as it was in the case of the formation of the modern Armenian army.

By the efforts of dedicated Armenians, who fought as ordinary soldiers and command, and with the blessings of the Church, our Army was formed through numerous losses and indescribable victories, which became an ark of sorts for the whole Armenian nation. This army saved and protected the country from the horrors of war and an insidious enemy.

God blessed the newly formed army with victories. Our newly formed army stood on that land and in the defense of the positions of the fair farmhand, engaged in numerous battles and each time came out from the battlefield victorious, with the flag and the cross raised in the air. This is a testament to the whole world, that the angelic Armenian soldier, who was struggling for our land, fights with faith in God and a deep sense of filial duty towards the homeland. The inherited faith, strength and energy from their fathers, and the love for the homeland continues to be a block against the road to retreat, an obstacle against failure, imposing unheard victories which have their deserved place in the annals of military history. They should enhance those heroes, by which the Armenian child is nurtured with in his mother’s arms and grows. And indeed, the nation speaks about Hayk’s Castle, Aram’s House, brave Armens and their present successors with astonishment. Sometimes with the regular army, sometimes with the commanders, sometimes with small detachments or with independent movements, we were able to defend our homeland, Mother Church, our language and honor. All those soldiers whose earthly life ended justly on the battlefield, accompanied by guardian angels have joined the heavenly host, as a victorious church, to continue their battle in an invisible battlefield and the to bring the struggle against evil to end and glory”, noted the spiritual leader of the Armed Forces of RA in part.

During the Divine Liturgy, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; a Special Prayer was offered for the Homeland and the strength of the army.

After the sacred ceremony of the Liturgy a requiem service was offered; for the souls of all the brave soldiers martyred in defense of the homeland.

Following the services, an official reception and program was held in the Events Auditorium of the Gevorkian Theological Seminary, during which His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; extended his word of appreciation and blessing to the participants, inviting everyone to pray to God for the servicemen who keep our country’s borders impenetrable through the sacrifice of their lives. His Holiness wished the RA armed forces ministers’ success in their difficult service, and asked that the Lord keep the arm of the Armenian soldier victorious for the glory of our nation. His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; delivered his blessing remarks to the participants and particularly stressed that the army is the guarantee of our bright future. For centuries the Armenian Church and the Armenian army acted in unison, shoulder to shoulder and therein lies the strength of our nation.

In his remarks, the RA Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan expressed gratitude to the Armenian Church and its servants for constantly being at the side of the army. The Minister noted that from an ordinary soldier to a commander, they act devotedly when protecting the country’s borders.

Then, as an assessment for the rendered services to the Homeland and the faithful, after the reading of the Patriarchal Encyclical, the Catholicos of All Armenians granted Major-General Kamo Kochunts, Andranik Makaryan, Ishkhan Matevosyan, Armen Ghahramanyan and Colonel Gevork Melkonian with the order of “St. Nerses the Graceful”.

By the order of Minister Ohanian, His Eminence Archbishop Yeznik Petrosyan, Primate of the Diocese of Tavoush; His Eminence Archbishop Arakel Karamyan, Primate of the Diocese of Kotayk; His Eminence Archbishop Yezras Nersisyan, Primate of the Diocese of Russia and New Nakhichevan; His Grace Bishop Michael Ajapahyan, Primate of the Diocese of Shirak; and His Grace Bishop Markos Hovhannisyan, Primate of the Diocese of Gegharkunik; were awarded with the “Andranik Ozanian” medals, on the occasion of 23rd Anniversary of the Armenian Army.