October 22, 2020
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On Friday, October 16, an ecumenical prayer was held at St. Vartan Cathedral on the fifth anniversary of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, with the participation of His Grace Bishop Daniel, Primate; His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate; members of the Diocese and Prelacy clergy, and representatives of the Armenian Evangelical and Catholic denominations. Along with Archbishop Anoushavan, the Prelacy was represented by Very Rev. Fr. Sahag Yemishian, General Vicar; Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, Pastor, St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, New York, and Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, Pastor, St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston (NY).

You may read the full text of Archbishop Anoushavan’s message below:

Dear Fellow Residents of our planet,

The Bible tells us that Armenia, the land of Mount Ararat, hosted Noah’s Ark and, thus, it became the cradle of mankind. By their nature, Armenians throughout the centuries have been peaceful, always contributing to the welfare of society. Through their experience of suffering and hardship, which has been recognized throughout the world as a history of martyrdom, the people of Ararat have promoted virtues and values, the foundation of the harmonious progress of Creation.

As an authentic offspring of this positive spirit, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative since its inception has been characterized as an Organization of “Gratitude in Action.” Her principle and goal is very clear: to express the gratitude of our people to the world for the unconditional support rendered to the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, perpetrated in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks, as well as to highlight the legacy of contemporary heroes in the four corners of the world such as physicians, activists and others who, in their humility, dedicate and sacrifice their lives to enhance the lives of others and bring positive change into the society.

This is indeed a noble mission. It signals and mirrors to the world the essence and the mission of Armenians, during this global pandemic, and most especially during the merciless war unleashed jointly by Azerbaijan and Turkey with thousands of mercenaries against Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

May God bless us all and shower His wisdom upon all the leaders of the world, the humanitarian organizations, each and every component of the society to pave the way toward Justice, Peace, Cooperation, and Prosperity.
On Wednesday, October 21, Dimitris Filippidis, journalist and general director of Hellas FM, New York, held a television interview with Archbishop Anoushavan about the Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh and Armenia. You may read excerpts below:
How big is the Armenian community in New York and the States?
In New York and New Jersey Metro area there are roughly 100,000 Armenians, and across the country their number is estimated to be between 1.2 and 1.5million. 
We saw the bombing of the Cathedral in Shushi. What are your emotions? Do you feel that this is a war again Orthodoxy or Christianity in general?
The bombing of the All-Savior Cathedral in Shushi, which was not accidental at all, is indeed a deplorable inhuman act. I am deeply convinced that any believer, regardless of his/her faith, condemns such an unjustifiable act, which is not only against Christian Armenians, but against God as well. Unfortunately, the perpetrators are ignorant of the Quran, which condemns those who demolish churches or synagogues in Sura Al Haj, chapter 22 Aya verse 40. On the day of the Judgement the Prophet himself will condemn them. Nevertheless, they don’t care, because they are godless people.
By answering to the second part of your question, I would like to state, sadly, that religion has been hijacked. It is the most sensitive layer of emotions to mobilize large crowds, mobs, and rally around obsessive goals. The main hidden issue is expansionism, with the aim of updating an old utopia, the so-called Pan-Turkism, which eventually will threaten the peace of the entire region. 
Ηow does the Armenian Diaspora respond to the war?
All Diaspora Armenians are geared towards creating awareness and motive in action toward global justice, as well as to the Armenian Cause. 
Talk to me about the rally you participated in Manhattan.   
This rally, which is part of global rallies organized by Armenians, is aimed toward a clear goal, that is, to remind the media of their ethical and moral obligation to provide the public with fact-based truth rather than present one-sided and biased approaches as a local skirmish or as a conflict where both sides are somehow at fault for bombing each other’s positions. We demand that the media reports the facts objectively, impartially, and truthfully to make the world aware of this unprovoked and dangerous act of war by Azerbaijan, aided and abetted by Turkey.

The rally was also a wake-up call to the public to be alert and not to be victims of social media fueled by the false propaganda, as one of our founding fathers, Abraham Lincoln had told. You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time
How can one help the Armenians?
Helping Armenians has a reciprocal dimension. By helping Armenians, the world helps itself. In 1915, Armenians paid an existential price. Because the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide were not punished, the Holocaust and other genocides came next. Today, the same perpetrators are repeating history, and this can have its impact on us. Any small gesture, phone call, an email to our legislative authorities makes a difference. We don’t need to wait until Hannibal gets at our doors. It will be too late.  
What is your message to people all over the world regarding this war?
I would like to share the message of Psalm 85.11 “Righteousness and Peace will embrace each other.” When we commit ourselves to justice and righteousness, surely Peace will prevail, be it at home, in business, in the community or in the nation. Preventing unjust individual or collective actions guarantees a healthy environment. Had we prevented the spread of the pandemic, we could have spared the precious lives of thousands of victims. and we could have ensured life as usual.
I would also like to attract the public’s attention to the fact that the current conflict in Artsakh is not due to a piece of real state, which is a superficial and not realistic. Please, the dispute between New York and New Jersey over the ownership of Liberty Island was over a piece of land or was it a matter of justice, which was finally settled by the Supreme Court? In the same vein, and even more so, the issue of Artsakh, in view of the experience of the Genocide is not only a matter of justice but an existential struggle.
Finally, as the co-workers of our Creator, and inhabitants of this marvelous planet, our common home and members of the same human family, let us always generate light and dispel darkness to create life, order, understanding, peace, prosperity and joy.
On Friday, October 16, during the second session of the National Representatives Assembly of the Western Prelacy, at the “Avedissian” Hall of the Holy Martyrs’ Church in Encino, California, Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, was unanimously elected as the new Prelate of the Western Prelacy. Bishop Torkom succeeds Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.

Immediately following the announcement of the election, the newly elected prelate was greeted with a standing ovation as he entered the hall. The clergy formed a procession, and with the singing of “Ourakh Ler” and “Hrashapar,” they guided the newly-elected prelate Bishop into Holy Martyrs’ Church to say the Canonical Prayer. Bishop Torkom received the prelate’s staff from Archbishop Moushegh, who conveyed his best wishes of success to his successor. Then, the newly elected prelate delivered his first message to representatives and clergy members

Bishop Torkom Donoyan was born in 1986, in Beirut, Lebanon. He has received his early education at the “Souren Khanamirian” school. He was accepted to the Holy Sea of Cilicia seminary in 1997, and ordained a celibate priest in 2006. In 2010, he received the rank of Vartabed and in 2016, the rank of Dzayrakouyn Vartabed, after defending the respective dissertations. In 2018, he was ordained a Bishop by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I.

From 2006 to 2013, he served as the director of the Christian Education Department in Antelias, Lebanon. From 2014 to 2016, he was the headmaster of the Seminary. He has received his musical education in Beirut, Yerevan and Britain, where he also studied Theology in Wales. In 2017, he was appointed Vicar General of the Western Prelacy.
Last Sunday, we concluded our annual journey through the Gospel according to Mark. Today, which is the sixth Sunday following the Feast of the Holy Cross, we commence our annual journey through the Gospel according to Luke.

In today’s passage, Luke 4:14-23, we learn that Jesus has returned from spending 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan, and as was His custom, Jesus went to the local synagogue in Nazareth to honor the Sabbath Day. In the course of the service, He was asked to proclaim the reading. He opened the 61st chapter from the Prophet Isaiah and read out: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has sent me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
This is one of the important events in the New Testament because it summarizes the earthly mission of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the main reason that St. Luke has placed the episode right after our Lord’s return from the desert where He had spent 40 days following His baptism.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has sent me.” By reading this specific prophecy, Jesus has made clear, from the very beginning of His mission to its salvific conclusion, that He was sent; in other words, He himself is the Apostle, par excellence, of God, and the mark of that apostleship is His anointing by the Holy Spirit, the source of all goodness, visible and invisible, as the “Christos”. The Evil One tempted Him and made every effort to alienate Him from the Father who sent Him as we read in the scene of the three temptations in the desert. The Evil One persisted in all forms of persecution, attempt of assassination, bullying, mockery, suffering and finally crucifixion, but inevitably failed. Jesus always directed the focus of His followers to the Heavenly Father, into whose hands finally He delivered His soul on the Cross. As St. Paul says, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9).

“To bring the good news to the poor” is not only addressed to those who are in dire need physically, but also to those who are impoverished spiritually. Our last Sunday’s Scriptural reading is a good testimony about how the poor widow gained spiritual wealth out of her financial humility.

The continuation of this prophetic reading states: “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Possible as it is to interpret these actions literally, yet to miss the spiritual dimension would mean to deviate from the Divine Redemptive plan. This statement is in full agreement with what the Angel foretold to Joseph in a dream, that he should call the conceived child Jesus for “He will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:22). Also, it is true that Jesus healed the blind, yet after healing a man who was born blind, the Pharisees challenged Jesus who retorted: “If you were blind, you would not have sinned. But now that you say, ‘we see,’ your sins remain” (Jn 9:41).

The Divine concern for human welfare is not limited to material and physical aspects, but rather transcends all our understanding and imagination. Jesus, by healing the blind, the deaf, the dumb and all human infirmities, wished to heal the wholeness of our fallen sinful nature. It is indeed pitiful not to grasp the goal and the depth of the Sacrificial Love on the Cross, which incorporates the physical, intellectual, spiritual health and joy of the earthlings both in time and beyond.

There is no doubt that we are all sinners, and no one is righteous apart from Christ. Yet right voices may come out even from the hearts of sinners like the thief who was crucified with the Eternal Lamb. Since September 27, Artsakh has been under ferocious attack by the joint forces of the Azerbaijani and Turkish armies supported by thousands of terrorist mercenaries. The irony of this unjustifiable war is that when these terrorists are captured by Armenian soldiers, and confess that they have been brainwashed, disoriented and misled, the aggressors themselves remain blinded and continue to blind the conscience of the world.

It is our prayer that the Almighty Lord may heal the sight of world leaders, of all tyrants and aggressors, so that in the very words of the Psalmist “Righteousness and Peace kiss each other” (Ps 95:11), and so that mankind may live in prosperity and praise the Almighty Creator and Heavenly Father. Amen.
It is with profound sadness that Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian and the Executive and Religious Councils of the Eastern Prelacy learned of the passing of Sona Hamalian on October 16 in Yerevan. As a recognized professional in the fields of public relations as well as humanitarian and educational work, Sona was a committed member of the Diaspora and devoted much of her efforts to the reconstruction and progress of Armenia. She was Executive Director of the Armenian Prelacy in the early 1980s and Director of Development in 2001-2002.

Sona was born in Aleppo, the fourth child of the Hamalian family. Her parents were children of genocide survivors. They first lived in Syria, then settled in Beirut, Lebanon, where Sona and her four sisters and brothers grew up and were formed and educated in the spirit of their parents’ love for everything Armenian and the highest human virtues.

Later on, they suffered their heavy share of the difficulties and hardships caused by the civil war in Lebanon and ended up settling in North America, Canada and the Unites States of America.

A glance at the legacy of Sona Hamalian’s life trajectory, rich in public service and solid experiences, confirms that she devoted her whole life, energies, and talents to humanistic, philanthropic, educational, cultural and diverse artistic arenas. She was sought after to serve in professional capacity, as an employee, or as a member of boards, in international, social and public, education and religious bodies as well as non-governmental organizations from the Middle East to Europe, the Unites States of America, reaching as far as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Let us just enumerate some of her service and contributions to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) Narekatsi Chair in Armenian Studies, The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Program in Yerevan, The Catholic Relief Service’s Yerevan office, the American Assembly of America in Los Angeles, Eurasia’s offices in Los Angeles and Washington D.C., Registrar for the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, The American Missionary Association of America in New Jersey and the Prelacy of the Armenian Orthodox Church in New York City, just to cite a few examples.

The leading thread of Sona’s life work has been her contributions to Armenia. After the earthquake in Armenia, Sona was one of the first people from the Diaspora to go and settle in Armenia, bringing her active participation in the establishment of the American University of Armenia as an Administrative Director, effectively managing with utmost devotion the efforts of advancing the initiation, growing and strengthening of the physical, human resources, and programmatic structures of AUA in the context of extreme destruction and the darkest times of war..

May God shed light on her gentle soul and give solace to her sisters and brothers, the large circle of relatives and loved ones. .
On Sunday, October 25, His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church of Dearborn, Michigan on the occasion of the 58th Anniversary of the foundation of the Parish.

Our faithful can watch the Livestream this Sunday morning by visiting ArmenianPrelacy.org/Livestream
Your help is more valuable than ever. We are coping with the challenges Covid-19 has put before us. Armenia and Artsakh are waging an existential war against the combined attack of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Our community in Lebanon, a home away from home for the Armenian people, is making enormous efforts to regain its footing. The Prelacy is redoubling its efforts to serve our parishes and our nation in a year that has seen so many unbearable losses to the pandemic and now to war against our historical enemies. Please give as generously as you can, “remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). We will emerge stronger with the hand you lend us.
As of today, the Eastern Prelacy fundraising for our brothers and sisters, thanks to the generous donations of our faithful and the cooperation of our clergy, has reached the amount of $364,814. Your contribution is distributed to our brothers and sisters by the Lebanon Central Coordinating Committee headed by Archbishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate.
To see the eleventh list of donations, click here.
To see the general list of donations, click here.
Bible readings for Sunday, October 25, Seventh Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Discovery of the Holy Cross, are: Wisdom 14:1-8; Isaiah 33:22-34; 1 Corinthians 1:18-24; Matthew 24:27-36.
Matthew 24:27-36
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
“Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken.
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-24
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
On Saturday, October 24, the Armenian Church commemorates the Twelve Holy Teachers (Doctors) of the Church, namely: Hierotheus of Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite, Sylvester of Rome, Athanasius of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephrem the Syrian, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Theologian, Epiphanius of Cyprus, John Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria.

This Sunday, October 25, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross (Giut Khatchi). Empress Helena, mother of Constantine and a devout Christian, wanted to visit the Holy Land and explore the sites Christ had walked centuries ago. She went to Golgotha (Calvary), which had become an obscure and neglected place. According to some chronicles, it was an informed Jew named Juda who pointed out the location. At her instruction, workers excavated the site and three wooden crosses were found. Which one was the True Cross? The three crosses were successively placed on the body of a youth who had just died. When one of the crosses was placed on him, the young man came back to life. This was determined to be the True Cross. The commemoration of this event takes place on the Seventh Sunday of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
The cross is a great source of pride for Armenians and they have created beautiful works of art using the cross. What once was a means of punishment and death became a symbol of salvation and victory.

“After the marvelous vision which the empress had, she began to search in Jerusalem for the precious wood of the cross on which the Messiah had been crucified. At her awesome command the Jews assembled and pointed out to her the precious wood of the cross which the Creator of creatures had ascended. The discovery of the holy cross in the holy place was accompanied by the spread of fragrance and the universe was filled with great gifts.”
(From the Canon for the Discovery of the Holy Cross, according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)

Also commemorated this week:
Thursday, October 22, Kharitian Martyrs: Artemis, Christopher, Niceta, Aquilina.
Monday, October 26, St. Anastasius the Priest.
Tuesday, October 27, Sts. Severianus of Sebastia, Hipparchus and his companions.
The Prelacy’s Orphan Sponsorship program was established in 1993 and continues to be the central mission of the Prelacy’s projects in Armenia and Artsakh. As part of the program, letters are received regularly from children addressed to their actual or potential sponsors. We are pleased to share some of these letters through Crossroads.

This week’s letter is from Ashot* who is sponsored by Vahakn & Sossy Varjabedian.
Dear Sponsor,

This is Ashot … I am already in 6th grade in school. I live with my mother and sister. My sister in in 10th grade in school. My mom doesn’t work.

I participate in the Armenian Folk Song division of the Arar Armenian Cultural Preservation and Recognition Program. I also participate in the newly opened after-school program of robotics.

I regret that I spend my vacation idly because of the pandemic and cannot play outside like before. I wish that the situation ends soon and we resume going to school and communicating with friends freely.

I am grateful for your assistance. My mother and sister join me in thanking you. 

We have:
14 children in the Orphans’ Sponsorship Program without a sponsor 
9 children in the College Sponsorship Program without a sponsor
32 orphans in the waiting list of the Prelacy’s Sponsorship Program.
Each of these 55 children needs your sponsorship. They need it now!

Click here for online sponsorship of minors up to the age of 18.

Click here for online sponsorship of orphans who become students at a higher education institution upon turning 18.

You can always contact the Prelacy by email (sophie@armenianprelacy.org) or telephone (212-689-7810) for the sponsorship of both minors and university students in the program of the St. Nerses the Great Organization in Armenia.

After the Armenian Genocide, thousands of Armenians lived and worked in the Turkish state alongside those who had persecuted their communities. Living in the context of pervasive denial, how did Armenians remaining in Turkey recorded their own history? Here, Talin Suciyan explores the life experienced by these Armenian communities as Turkey's modernization project of the twentieth century gathered pace. She achieves this through analysis of remarkable, new primary material: Turkish state archives, minutes of the Armenian National Assembly, a multifaceted series of personal diaries, memoirs and oral histories, various Armenian newspapers, yearbooks and magazines, as well as statutes and laws that led to the continuing persecution of Armenians. The first history of its kind, The Armenians in Modern Turkey is a fresh contribution to the history of modern Turkey and the Armenian experience there.
Copies of this book may be purchased from the Prelacy Bookstore
(books@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810)


Death of Vazgen Sargsian (October 27, 1999)
In these days, when Armenia and Artsakh are fighting off Azerbaijani-Turkish attacks, it is timely to remember the name of one of the heroes of the first war of Artsakh and founder of the armed forces of Armenia.

Vazgen Sargsian was born on March 5, 1959 in the village of Ararat, Armenia. After graduating from the village’s middle school, he attended the Armenian State Institute of Physical Culture and Sport in 1976-79. In 1979-83, he served as physical education teacher at the middle school of Ararat, thus being exempted from mandatory military service.

His literary activity began early on. He joined the Union of Writers of Armenia in 1985, and in 1986-89 he ran the social commentary section of the “Garun” monthly review. His first volume of short stories, “The temptation of bread,” was published in 1986. He has also written many general interest articles, but his literary pursuits ended in the late 1980s.

As an active member of the Artsakh movement, Sargsian was a commander of volunteers’ detachments in 1989-90 near Yeraskh, on the Armenian-Azerbaijan border with Nakhichevan. In 1990, as a leader of the Pan-Armenian National Movement, he was elected a representative of the National Assembly, where he chaired the defense and interior committees. The “Yerkrapah” volunteer units, created upon his initiative, became the foundations for the Armenian Army.

In December 1991 he was named minister of Defense of Armenia. A month later he set out to create the Armenian armed forces. In May-June 1992, following the liberation of Shushi and Berdzor (Lachin), Sargsian proposed the creation of the “Ardziv mahapartner” commandos, which achieved victories in August-September 1992 in Martakert that changed the course of the war.

In October 1992-March 1993, he served as presidential advisor for defense and special representative of the president of Armenia in border areas, following which he was named minister of defense, national security and the interior of Armenia. Sargsian played a major role in the organization of the Armenian army and, along with the other top commanders, he has led the military operations in Artsakh until the ceasefire of May 1994. In 1993, he created the “Yerkrapah” volunteer movement, which played a pivotal role in Armenian politics.

In July 1995, Vazgen Sargsyan was appointed minister of Defense by President Levon Ter Petrossian, holding that position for four years, during which he continued thorough work to complete the organization of the army. He became one of the main political figures of Armenia in the postwar period, playing a major role in the presidential elections in 1996. As he opposed Ter Petrossian’s concessions to solve the conflict of Artsakh, Vazgen Sargsian, with support from Prime Minister Robert Kocharian and Interior minister Serzh Sargsian, demanded the resignation of President Ter Petrossian in February 1998. Shortly after, in March 1998, V. Sargsian supported the election of Kocharian as president. The “Yerkrapah” movement gained a majority in the National Assembly, helping him consolidate his political influence, an in 1998 he joined the Republican Party of Armenia.

In March 1999, Vazgen Sargsian’s Republican Party formed a coalition with the Popular Party of Karen Demirjian, which became known as “Unity.” This coalition won the elections in May. In June 1999, Sargsian was appointed Prime Minister while Demirjian was named National Assembly speaker. His political influence grew further, eclipsing President Kocharian. During Sargsian’s short tenure as prime minister the Pan-Armenian games took place as well as the first Armenia-Diaspora Congress.

Sargsian, Demirjian, five lawmakers and a minister were assassinated on October 27, 1999 by an armed group led by Nayiri Hunanian, which took the National Assembly building by assault. The attackers have been condemned to life in prison. Yet the circumstances surrounding the attack have never been fully explained and there are a number of versions about the motivations of these political assassinations and the forces behind it.

Notwithstanding criticism against him, Vazgen Sargsian is recognized by the government and the public as a national hero. He has been proclaimed national hero of Armenia and hero of Artsakh. The military academy of Yerevan is named after Sargsian, as well as the republic’s stadium, a central street and a street in Stepanakert, in addition to a park in Kapan. His statues have been erected in a number of cities and there is a museum dedicated to him in his hometown, the village of Ararat.
Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org). 
If you think that there is an explanation for the origin of the names Artsakh (Արցախ) and Gharabagh (Ղարաբաղ, Karabagh), you are mistaken. The earliest historical record about Artsakh comes from the cuneiform inscriptions of Urartu (Kingdom of Van), where it appeared with the names Urtehe and Atahuni (the h in cuneiform inscriptions sounds like kh). The Armenians sources have recorded the name in the forms Ardakh, Ardzakh, and Artsakh (Արդախ, Արծախ, Արցախ), and perhaps the Armenian Ardakh corresponds to Urdehe as it was written down twenty-eight centuries ago.

We can only make assumptions about the meaning of Ardakh > Ardzakh > Artsakh, and there is no consensus about its etymology. Of course, nobody should take seriously an explanation putting together the male name Ara (Արա) and the word tsakh (ցախ “brushwood”), as in “Ara’s brushowod,” which appears, for instance, in a children’s poem. Such explanations are known with the name of folk etymology and have no scholarly value.
Coming to Karabagh, it appeared for the first time in Arabic and Persian sources of the fourteenth century with the etymology “black garden,” and two Armenian historians, Tovma Metzopetsi (fifteenth century) and Hovhannesik Tzaretsi (sixteenth century), repeated that explanation.

There is no explanation linking both Artsakh and Gharabagh. It is assumed that the meaning “black garden” would be related to the fertility of the soil in the region. But Persian historian Hamdallah Qazvini called the lower region of Gharabagh Bagh-i safid (“white garden), and the upper region, Bagh-i siakh (“black garden”), which may be just related to the opposition of the colors of the plain and the mountain, white and black, without giving grounds to Turkish Karabagh (“black garden”).

Less consideration has been given to a possible Armenian explanation. There have been many placenames in the Armenian regions of Siunik (Zangezur), Artsakh and Utik (the current Gandzak-Ganja) with the root bagh, including the province of Baghk in Siunik. The name of the fortress of Baghaberd in Siunik has given an intriguing ground to assume that Karabagh could have been a capricious Turkish half-translation of the name Baghaberd. In this way, the Armenian word բերդ (berd “fortress”; pert in Western Armenian pronunciation) might have been translated into Turkish as kala, modified into kara, which originated Ghara-bagh. For instance, the Azerbaijani name of the village of Berdashen (district of Martuni in Gharabagh) is Qarakend, which supposedly means “black village,” but the existence of the Armenian names gives food for thought. This may have been a folk etymology, and the actual translation would have been “village of the fortress,” in a linguistic distortion of the original Qalakend.

If there are no clear and exact directions, the etymology of proper names becomes extremely tough, as it gets usually buried in the dark corners of the distant past.
Previous entries in “Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org). 
Armenian Prelacy
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Crossroads welcomes your letters (English and/or Armenian), as well as parish news, photographs, and calendar items. The deadline for submitting items is Tuesday evenings. Please write to crossroads@armenianprelacy.org.
(Calendar items may be edited to conform to space and style)
SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Meets every Saturday via Zoom from 10:30 am-12:30 pm (ET). For information: anec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7231.

October 14—December 2: Bible Study on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Wednesday evenings from 8:00-9:00 pm (EST), conducted by Archdeacon Shant Kazanjian, Director of Christian Education (Eastern Prelacy). To register, please email your name, email address, and phone number to shant@armenianprelacy.org.

October 25 —58th anniversary of St. Sarkis Church (Dearborn, MI), presided by His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate.

November 21 —Annual Armenian Food Drive-Thru Festival at Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Worcester, Massachusetts. Details to follow.
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