In the evening of April 22, in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians; a Vigil Service was held, which began the Rite of Canonization for the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.
The Vigil service was attended by Diocesan Primates and clergy of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, as well as heads and delegations of the Sister Churches, who traveled to Armenia on the occasion of the commemorative events of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide; representatives of Ecumenical Organizations, and the faithful.
The solemn Vigil Service began with the Lord’s Prayer, which was followed by the Evening Service. The Deacons sang prayerful songs; “Yishestsuk i Gisheri” and “Aravot Lusoy”, by Catholicos St. Nerses the Graceful, and prayers were read by His Grace Bishop Haigazun Najarian, Primate of the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand.
At the end of the Vigil Service, the Blessing of the relics of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide was offered. The reliquary was washed with water and wine then it was blessed under the singing of psalms. At the end of the service, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians; conveyed his Pontifical blessings to the attendees:
His Holiness noted in part: “Today we are united in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, to worship our Lord, to remember the Armenians martyred during the Armenian Genocide, through this Vigil service. We are comforted that at this moment the heads of the Sister Churches and their delegations, representatives of ecumenical organizations are praying together with us.
By the will of God, on April 23, under the auspices of this Holy Church, before the Holy Alter of St. Trdat, the first Armenian Christian King, we will hold the Canonization of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, asking for the intercessions of the holy witnesses for empowerment and advancement of our national and spiritual life.
The spirit of martyrdom is a nourishing source of our Christian life, which has abundantly nourished the faith environment of Christ-loving people. Throughout history, the blood shed by the martyrs have emparted spirit to the Church. We remember the words of Patriarch St. Ignatius of Antioch, one of the greatest Christian martyrs, “Neither the scorching fire, nor the water could fade the love of the faithful towards God”. For the courageous and brave Christians, it’s of great benefaction to live with God.
The newly growing Christian life in the Armenian world, was nurtured by the blood of the Apostles St.Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew, the first illuminators, spreading the light of Christ’s Gospel, the reborn martyrs and the heroes of our Faith. Our people during all of history, were often glorified on the altar of martyrdom, becoming a venerable example of piety. During the years of the Genocide also, the stories of martyrdom and sufferings of our children, as much as it caused pain and sorrow, also created new impetus to strengthen and have courage of faith, as it was in the case of the Christians of the first centuries, for whom, according to the words of the Apostle Paul “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
We see the same spirit in different parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East, where the Christian faithful, continue to witness their Christ-gifted faith with their lives. We admire the courage and endurance that our Christian brothers display during hardship and sufferings. These images of Martyrdom simultaneously emphasize the necessity to multiply the efforts of the Holy Church of Christ, for the sake of creating a more safe and secure world, “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Our people and our Church, as in the past, today also consistently expresses her devotion to Christ’s Holy Family; this sacred mission of the Church.
Our wishes and prayers are that all the martyrs that joined to the Triumphant Church together with the Armenian Genocide Martyrs, advocate to God for world peace and reconciliation. We believe that the Martyrs of the Genocide, also continue to live today. Their heroism and inspiring presence have always been with our people during all the years following the Genocide.
May God bless the fraternal roads between justice and nations, so that no nation suffers genocide. We offer our prayers and blessings to all the innocent victims.
May Lord’s love and peace be with all of us now and always Amen.”