August 9, 2018
Today the saints have gathered together, the blessed apostles and the holy virgins in bright garments with their lighted lamps and in unison they sang: Blessed are you, all-praised among women.
           Today having placed the holy Virgin at the door of the tomb, they awaited the coming of the Lord himself. And behold, they saw on the heights the Creator coming with a multitude of angels; and in unison they began to sing in praise: Blessed are you, all praised among women.
           Today they saw the holy Virgin floating through the air and on the fiery chariot ascending into heaven with the wise virgins entering into the heavenly tabernacles; and in unison they sang in song: Blessed are you, all praised among women.
           Today, accompanied by the many-eyed cherubim and the six-winged seraphim you entered into the radiant tabernacles and saw the various thrones prepared for you, O Lady; with them we also sing: Blessed are you all praised among women.

From Canon for the Assumption of the Mother of God, according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Archbishop Oshagan with clergy from the parishes in New England during the Blessing of Grapes.
Archbishop Oshagan presided over the Blessing of the Grapes ceremony that took place during the annual picnic of St. Stephen’s Church of Watertown, Massachusetts last Sunday at Camp Haiastan in Franklin, Massachusetts. Clergy from the New England area joined the Prelate in blessing the grapes, signifying thanksgiving for a successful harvest. Earlier in the day His Eminence blessed two new buildings recently completed in Camp Haiastan. The Camp has been serving Armenian youth for 67 years, producing generations of campers who remember their extraordinary experiences and forming friendships that last a lifetime. 

Archbishop Oshagan and Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian bless the new Director’s House that was recently built at Camp Haiastan with the sponsorship of Gregory Arabian, above second from right. At right is Stephen Mesrobian from the AYF Central. Also blessed was the new office building sponsored by Rebecca Rafaelian-Caruolo.

As the Catholicosate Summer Academy comes to a close, the participants take part in an impromptu video sharing their experiences about the last 2 weeks they have spent in Antelias, Lebanon at the Holy See of Cilicia!
Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Massachusetts this weekend where on Sunday he will preside over the Divine Liturgy and Blessing of Grapes at Holy Trinity Church in Worcester. His Eminence will then go to Camp Haiastan in Franklin, where he will preside over the Blessing of Grapes at the annual picnic hosted by Sts. Vartanantz Church of Providence, Rhode Island.

Bible readings for Sunday, August 12, Feast of the Dormition and Assumption of the Holy Mother of God, are: Song of Songs 4:9-15; 8:14; Isaiah 7:10-16; Galatians 3:29-4:7; Luke 2:1-7. Lections for Blessing of Grapes: Proverbs 3:9-10; Isaiah 65:8-10; Hebrews 6:16-7:7; John 15:1-8.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 15:1-8)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.

This Saturday, August 11, is the Feast of Shoghakat of Holy Etchmiadzin that is always observed on the Saturday prior to the Feast of the Assumption. Shoghakat refers to the vision of St. Gregory and the rays of light when God chose the site for the Mother Cathedral. The feast is celebrated at the time of Assumption because the Cathedral in Etchmiadzin is named in honor of the Holy Mother, although through the years it became known as Etchmiadzin and Shoghakat refers to the three nearby churches of St. Gayaneh, St. Hripsimeh, and St. Shoghakat.

The Blessed Virgin Mary holds a high place in the Armenian Church, next to Christ. We begin our Divine Liturgy with these words, “Through the intercession of the holy Mother of God, O Lord, receive our supplications and save us.” In every Armenian Church the painting on the main altar is of Mary, holding the infant Savior. The Gospels teach us that Mary was blessed and called by God to fulfill God’s divine plan of salvation. Mary has a primary place of honor because through her and by the Holy Spirit God became incarnate, became human.

This Sunday, August 12, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption ( Verapokoum ) of the Holy Mother of God, the fourth of the five major feast days in our Liturgical Calendar, and the Blessing of the Grapes. Verapokoum in classical Armenian means “transport up.” According to tradition, when the Holy Mother died she was buried by the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. Bartholomew who was not present at her funeral wished to visit her grave. When the gravestone was lifted they were surprised to find that her body had disappeared. It was believed that Christ had come and taken his mother to the Heavenly Kingdom. They considered the empty tomb confirmation that the Holy Mother had not died, but had fallen asleep (dormition) and our Lord assumed His mother into heaven. 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 of remembrance.

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 Darbnots Kar in the province of Antsev, Vaspourakan (Western Armenia) where a convent for nuns, Hogyats Vank (Monastery of the Spirits), was built and where the icon was kept. Most depictions of Bartholomew show him holding this icon.

The concept of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is old as evidenced 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.”

This Sunday is the name day for those named Mariam, Maro, Mary, Mari, Makrouhi, Mayrenie, Maroush, Serpouhi, Dirouhi, Takouhi, Lousig, Lousnag, Arousiag, Arpine, Markarid, Nazig, Azniv, Seta, Dzaghig, Verjin, Arshalouys.

The Blessing of the Grapes takes place on the Feast of the Assumption, although there is no connection between the two events. This ceremony is rooted in the Biblical tradition as commanded by God to the Israelites, through Moses, to donate the “first bearing of all their fruits, on the Tabernacle in order that with this first offering all fruits would receive Your blessing…” The hymn Park Sourp Khatchet (Glory to Your Sacred Cross) is sung; Biblical passages are recited, followed by a prayer composed by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali specifically for this occasion. After the prayer, the grapes are blessed three times with the words Orhnestsee Bahbanestsee and then the blessed grapes are distributed to the faithful, many of whom have refrained from eating grapes through the year until after this blessing.
Certainly we can say that the Blessing of the Grapes is a symbolic celebration of the fruitfulness of the earth. Grapes are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Noah planted a vineyard immediately after disembarking from the Ark (Genesis, Chapter 9) in Nakhichevan, Armenia. And, of course, the wine of the Divine Liturgy comes from grapes.
Bless, O Lord, the grape plants and vineyards from which these grapes are taken and presented to the holy church, and make them bountiful and fruitful; let them be like good and fertile land, protect the vineyard from all kinds of misfortune and destruction which come from above because of our sins, from hail, from cold, from hot winds, and from destructive insects, so that we may enjoy that which You have created in this world for our enjoyment and for Your glory, and grant that we may be worthy to eat and drink with You from the bounty of Your most fruitful vine at the table of Your Father’s Kingdom, according to the just promise which You made, to the honor and glory of Your coexisting Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the most Holy Spirit to whom is due glory, power, and honor, now and forever. Amen. (From the prayer written by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali for the Blessing of the Grapes)

Monday, August 13, is Memorial Day ( Merelotz ). In accordance with the tradition of the Armenian Church, the day after each of the five tabernacle feasts is designated as a Memorial Day, a day of remembrance of the dead. Traditionally, on Merelotz the Divine Liturgy is celebrated with a requiem service for all souls and for those specifically requested. Following the service the clergy and faithful go to the cemetery where the graves of loved ones are blessed. 

St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown, Massachusetts successfully completed its 2018 Summer Camp program, which was held from July 2 to August 3. The school has offered this five-week camp to the Armenian community of the greater Boston area since the summer of 1999. Summer Camp was a great success one again this year. The school offers two summer programs, one for preschool-aged children and another for children in Kindergarten and 1 st Grade.
Thirty children attended camp each week, which was held in an engaging, loving, safe, and fun environment. The camp program integrates learning into fun activities, crafts, and games. Weekly themes included the solar system, the rainforest, summer garden, sea and backyard animals, camping and community helpers. The program included a variety of experiences and fun activities that foster the development of the whole child, including a special, daily conversational Armenian class, sports, art, music and movement, Armenian songs, and water games. 

The St. Stephen’s Armenian School Summer Camp provided children a unique opportunity for social interaction, to develop friendships, for growth and learning, and to develop the participants’ familiarity with the Armenian language.

St. Stephen’s School offers programs throughout the year. Registration is now open for the fall session of the popular weekly Tap and Clap classes (for children 9 to 17 months old) and Mayrig & Me classes (for children ages 18 months to 2.9 years). For more information contact the Preschool Office at (617) 923-0501 or email

Death of Jean Carzou 
(August 12, 2000)
Carzou was the most famous Armenian painter in France with a unique style of painting.

He was born Karnig Zouloumian on January 1, 1907, in Aleppo (Syria), then part of the Ottoman Empire. He first studied at the school of the Marist Fathers and then, when he moved to Cairo in 1919, he went to the Kaloustian School. His brilliant academic performance earned him a scholarship and he moved to Paris in 1924, after graduation, to study architecture.

He graduated from the School of Architecture in 1929. He created his name from the first syllables of his name and surname, to which he added the French name Jean, but he always kept close to his Armenian roots and Armenian life. However, he abandoned architecture for the fine artist. He started working as a theater decorator but quickly realized he preferred drawing and painting. He worked as a street artist to support himself, and his sketches of politicians and public figures found their way into Parisian newspapers.

In 1930 Carzou had his first exhibition at the Salon des Artistes Independants, which he would continue annually for more than six decades, until 1992. In the 1930s he also participated in the exhibitions of the Union of Armenian Artists “Ani.” He had his first solo exhibition at Galerie Contemporaine in Paris, and from then on he would have more than a hundred personal exhibitions in France and abroad (Belgium, Germany, Lebanon, Cairo, Switzerland, England, and the United States). In 1966 he had his first personal exhibition in Yerevan, followed by a second exhibition in 1983 and a posthumous one in 2007. Following their trip to Armenia in 1966, his wife Nane Carzou would write a celebrated travelogue, Voyage en Arménie (Travel in Armenia), and his son, journalist Jean-Marie Carzou, would produce the first comprehensive account about the Armenian Genocide in French, Arménie 1915: un genocide exemplaire (Armenia 1915: An Exemplary Genocide), in 1975. In 1980 he was awarded the “Martiros Sarian” prize in Armenia.

Carzou started working in stage designing for the Opera de Paris for several operas and ballets during the 1950s. His designs of settings and costumes made him known to the general public. In 1957 he created his famous antiwar series “The Apolcalypse.” In the 1950s and 1960s he also created book illustrations with his line drawings and engravings (Andre Maurois’ France, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Albert Camus’ Notebooks, Edgar A. Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue ), and his sharp graphic style became extremely popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Meanwhile, he earned the coveted Hallmark prize in 1949, and became Knight of the French Legion of Honor in 1956 and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters two years later. In 1955 the art magazine Connaissance des Arts rated him as one of the ten most important painters of his generation.

Near the age of seventy, Carzou became the first living artist to have his work, “Distant Princess,” appear on a French postal stamp in 1976, and the following year he was elected a member of the French Academy of Fine Arts, succeeding painter Jean Boucheaud. In 1977 he was also awarded the National Order of Merit. However, he garnered a great deal of hostility from the art world with a statement that Pablo Picasso and Paul Cézanne were symbols of the “decadence in painting.”

After a long career as a painter, illustrator, and stage designer, in 1991 he finished the design of a chapel in Manosque (Alpes of Haute-Provence) with more than 600 square meters of paintings of a huge Apocalypse, which was not a literal illustration of St. John’s book of Revelation, but the depiction of the “climate of our times.” The chapel later became the headquarters of the Carzou Foundation.

The prolific French-Armenian artist lost his wife in 1978. He passed away near his son on August 12, 2000, in Perigueux, at the age of ninety-three.  

L'Apocalypse by Jean Carzou
Cannes, Le Suquet by Jean Carzou
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s website ( ).

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(Prepared by Armenian National Education Committee)

How Do We Take Neither Side?

When something does not grammatically belong either to the masculine or the feminine gender, we say that it is of the neuter gender. The word “neuter” is a compound word derived from two Proto-Indo-European roots, ne (“not”) and uter (“either of two”). From this adjective we have the more commonly used “neutral,” meaning “taking neither side.”

Now, it is not unusual that the English word is composed of two roots. It is more unusual to find out that its Armenian counterpart is composed by five roots, especially because it has… five letters.

The word in question is չէզոք ( chezok ) “neutral.” This is one of those words that even some readers who do not know Armenian may identify. Twentieth-century Armenian politics and its interminable quarrels brought forward the concept of the chezok, namely, those community members who did not identify themselves with any political party or ideology, and took pride in being equidistant from all sides.

Whether you have known it or not so far, the word is quite common and covers everything you can imagine when thinking of the concept of “neutral” and its derivations.

Where does chezok come from?

Of course, from Classical Armenian, as the ending – k might indicate. The ք ( k) was a plural ending that still survives in many modern words. For instance, we have գիր /kir “letter,” and the plural գիրք /kirk “letters,” which also generated the word kirk “book” (a plurality of letters).  

Here, we have the word ոք ( vok, pronounced ok in Classical Armenian), meaning “one, a person,” which is still used in Modern Armenian when we say ոչ ոք ( voch vok ), meaning “nobody.” The root is the indefinite pronoun ո ( vo ). The word vok is preceded by the preposition զ ( z ), which was attached to words in the genitive declension and is still used in Modern Armenian (e.g the personal pronoun զիս /zis “me , from z + is ).

The letter չ ( ch ) is, indeed, the negative particle, and the է ( e) is the third person, singular, of the verb “to be,” namely, չէ ( che) means “is not.”

As a result, chezok literally meant, in an approximate translation, “not anyone.” The word probably appeared in the sixth century, the period called of the Hellenistic School, as a translation of Greek oudeteros (“neither, neuter”) and, of course, Latin neuter.

You have to appreciate the ingenuity of the translators by putting together five meaningful roots and come up with a short word. Perhaps you will also give a different value to the idea of taking neither side… in Armenian.

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( ).
Many of our parishes serve Harissa on the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary. Harissa (also known as Keshkeg ), is an Armenian dish that has been passed on from generation to generation since ancient times. It is a thick porridge made from korkot or dzedzadz (dried or roasted cracked wheat) and meat, usually chicken or lamb. The tradition began with Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of the Armenian Church, who first offered Harissa as a meal of love and charity for the poor. Because there was not enough sheep to feed the crowds of people, wheat was added to the cooking pots. On fasting days herbs were added instead of meat. The long cooking process is an important part of the ritual. Harissa helped the Armenians of Musa Ler survive during their resistance in 1915. To this day the ancestors of Musa Dagh (The Forty Days of Musa Dagh) observe the tradition of making multiple rows of large pots of Harissa to share with all. 

We thought this book was out of print, but recently the Bookstore’s manager found a carton of books tucked away in a corner and is eager to share the news of her find. Written in modern Armenian, it is easy to read, with 365 popular stories from the Bible, Old and New Testaments.
This 413 page book contains 365 Bible stories for all ages, written in modern Armenian and beautifully illustrated in color. This durable hardcover book with jacket was published by the Bible Society in Lebanon. Even beginning students of Armenian will find it interesting and an excellent learning tool.
Take advantage of this special limited offer:
$10.00 per book (plus shipping and handling)
Contact the Prelacy Bookstore by email ( )
or by telephone (212-689-7810).

SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. New term begins on September 22, 2018. For information: or 212-689-7810.

August 12 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, Annual picnic and Blessing of the Grapes, sponsored by Sts. Vartanantz Church and A.R.F. Dro Gomideh. On the church grounds under large tents (in case of rain, head to large hall), 1 pm to 5 pm. Delicious food and desserts; arts and crafts and playground for kids; cards and tavloo.
August 12 —Holy Trinity Church, 635 Grove Street, Worcester, Massachusetts, Annual Church Picnic and Blessing of the Grapes. Music by DJ Shaheen, tavloo tournament, bouncy house and carnival games for the kids. Delicious foods and pastries. Join us from noon to five on the church grounds. Blessing of the grapes at 1 pm. Free admission, free parking.
August 19 —Annual Church Picnic and Blessing of Grapes, Soorp Asdvadzadzin Church, 315 Church Street, Whitinsville, Massachusetts, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, with the participation of pastors of the New England area churches. Full menu of shish kebab, chicken kebab, losh kebab, kheyma, desserts, and choreg sale, all beginning at 12 noon. Dance to the live music of the John Berberian Ensemble, rain or shine. For more information (508) 234-3677.
September 8 —Special session of the Eastern Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly for election of Prelate, will take place at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City. Meeting will begin at 1 pm sharp.
September 9 —St. Gregory Church of Merrimack Valley, Picnic-Festival on the church grounds, 158 Main Street, North Andover, Massachusetts, 12 noon to 5:30 pm. Featuring Armenian music by Leon Janikian (clarinet); John Berberian (oud); Jason Naroian (dumbeg, vocals); John Arzigian (accordion, vocals). Lamb shish kebab, losh kebab, chicken kebab dinners, vegetarian dinners, Armenian pastries. Great Procession of the Holy Cross to take place around the church premises. Games and activities for all. Free parking and admission. For information (978) 685-5038).
September 21, 2018 to January 13, 2019 —“Armenia!” a large exhibition dedicated to the medieval period of Armenian history and culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. The exhibit is the first at the Met dedicated solely to Armenia. Curated by Dr. Helen C. Evans.

October 20 —Armenian Friends America, Inc., Sixth Annual HYE KEF 5, featuring Onnik Dinkjian, John Berberian, Ara Dinkjian, Mal Barsamian, and Jason Naroian. Double Tree Hotel,  Andover, Massachusetts.  For information: .

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