New lake pier constructed for Akdamar Church

Vercihan Ziflioğlu
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

The Van Governor’s Office is aiding in the preparations for the second Divine Liturgy on Akdamar Island’s Surp Haç Church by building a pier that will be better equipped to handle the number of expected visitors. Other arrangements are also being made to serve the guests who will attend the Sept 11 ceremony that falls in line with the Armenian Apostolic Church’s celebration of the Surp Haç Festival.

The Van Governor’s Office has begun comprehensive preparations, including the construction of a new pier on Lake Van, for a second Divine Liturgy that will be held on Akdamar Island’s Surp Haç Church on Sept. 11. “The governor’s office is building a large pier that will meet the needs [of visitors] in place of the current pier. Moreover, arrangements are also underway to better serve the guests who will be coming to the island for the Divine Liturgy,” Van Gov. Münir Karaloğlu recently told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Over 7,000 people attended last year’s ceremony, said Karaloğlu, adding that they were expecting a large number of congregants to attend this year’s Divine Liturgy as well.

“This year, we are also expecting Armenians from Iran as well. At any rate, there is generally an apparent increase in the [number] of tourists who arrive in Van starting in the month of August,” Karaloğlu said.

“Of course, it is not just Armenians but tourists from all corners of the world who come to Van. We broke a record in [the number of tourist arrivals] during this year’s first six months in comparison to previous years,” he said.

Deputy Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, who will preside over this year’s Divine Liturgy, said in a press release that no official invitations were going to be sent either to Armenia or to the diaspora for the September ceremony.

“It will be a routine Divine Liturgy. As the [deputy] patriarch has said, no official invitations are going to be issued,” Karaloğlu said, adding that they had formed a joint commission with the Patriarchate and that preparations were underway for the Divine Liturgy.

The Divine Liturgy on Akdamar will be held on Sept. 11, which falls in line with the Armenian Apostolic Church’s celebration of the Surp Haç Festival. Ateşyan will be in charge of the Divine Liturgy because a debilitating illness prevents Patriarch Mesrop II from fulfilling his duties.

Asked whether visitors would again be accommodated in private residences in Van, Karaoğlu said: “If the need arises, we can launch a similar campaign again. But this year, there is no demand.”

Touching on a controversy surrounding the lack of a cross atop the church last year, the governor said: “The diaspora was saying that another Divine Liturgy was not going to be allowed [in Surp Haç Church.] The arguments were fuelled because no crosses were put on [the church.] The cross was put in place after the Divine Liturgy, and as you can see, a permit for the Divine Liturgy is also being issued for the second time.” Past years’ debates regarding the church’s cross were unnecessary, he added.

Çarpanak Monastery next in line

The governor also said they had applied to international organizations and received funds to restore several churches and monasteries within the boundaries of the eastern province.

Restoration works for the Çarpanak Monastery on the island of the same name will start in a couple of months, the governor said, adding that the original name of the Armenian monastery, which dates back to the 15th century, was “Gduzs.”

When the restoration is completed, Çarpanak will also be open to visitors as a museum,” he said.