September 27, 2018
Bishop Anoushavan, Prelate, will travel to Worcester, Massachusetts this weekend where on Sunday he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon for the first time as Prelate at Holy Trinity Church.

The Monastery of Varak before 1915.
This Sunday, September 30, is the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak , a holiday that is unique to the Armenian Church and is celebrated two weeks after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. After coming to Armenia, the Hripsimiantz Virgins lived near Mount Varak. They had brought with them a fragment of the True Cross. Fleeing persecution, they sought refuge on the mountain where Hripsime hid the cross among the rocks before fleeing to Vagharshapat. In 653, a hermit named Todik found the hidden cross by following a brilliant light that illuminated the mountain and guided him inside the church to the altar where he found the cross. The light shone for twelve days. In memory of this event, Catholicos Nerses (the Builder) established the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak. He wrote the beautiful hymn, “By the Sign of Your All Powerful Holy Cross,” ( Nshanav Amenahaght Khatchit ).

The Monastery of St. Nishan ( Varakavank ) was built on Mount Varak, which is in the southeastern region of Van. It was home to one of the greatest libraries and museums, filled with ancient and modern books and works of art. The Monastery became even more prominent when Khrimian Hayrik established a publishing house and a school there hoping to make the monastery an educational center. He founded the first newspaper to be published in historic Armenia, Artsiv Vaspurakani (The Eagle of Vaspurakan). The massacres and deportations of 1915 destroyed Hayrik ’s hopes and plans, as well as so much more. Varakavank was destroyed by the Turkish army on April 30, 1915, during the siege of Van. 

By the sign of your all-victorious cross, O Christ, lover of mankind, keep us from the unseen enemy, for you alone are the King of Glory, blessed forever. On it you stretched out your spotless hands and shed your blood for the salvation of the universe for you alone are King of Glory, blessed forever. At your second coming when this holy sign shall appear once again make your servants worthy of renewal for you alone are the King of Glory, blessed forever.

May your cross be our refuge by its flame-like radiance; it is named the tree of life; you crushed the enemy and unloosed the sentence of death for the salvation of the universe. Sending up praises the heavens rejoice and the earth rejoices at the discovery of the holy cross like the four-winged rock which enlightened this world by its sun-like rays. Jerusalem rejoiced, believers were glad; they adorned themselves in marvelous garment for they saw the victorious sign; all creation was adorned with its light.

(Canon to the Cross of Varak from the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Apostolic Church)
This past week was a whirlwind of activity as major events converged, but miraculously did not conflict with each other, in the metropolitan New York area that included the 27 th anniversary of the independence of Armenia, Hrashapar services for Bishop Anoushvan, the opening session of the United Nations bringing in the heads of state from around the world, the opening of Armenia!, the major exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, reception for the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and a clergy conference of the Eastern Prelacy. Here are some photos with brief notations.
Hrashapar Service, Saturday, September 22
Bishop Anoushavan delivers his message during Hrashapar Services at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral.

Bishop Anoushavan with Archbishop Oshagan who stepped down as Prelate after serving twenty years.

Divine Liturgy, Sunday, September 23
Bishop Anoushavan giving communion at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York. His Grace celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon for the first time as Prelate. His Grace served the parish of St. Sarkis from 1988 to 2005, first as preacher and later as pastor.
Reception for Prime Minister of Armenia
Bishop Anoushavan greets the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, at a reception at the Yale Club in New York City.
United Nations General Assembly
At the United Nations for the address by the Prime Minister of Armenia. From left to right, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, His Holiness Karekin II, Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, and Bishop Anoushavan.

Dignitaries with Armenian delegation at the United Nations.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monday, September 24
Bishop Anoushavan and Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan at the exhibit.

Bishop Anoushavan and Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian with former U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John Evans.
Clergy Conference, Wednesday, September 26
The Eastern Prelacy’s semi-annual Clergy Conference took place at St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York. 
Led by Bishop Anoushavan, the newly inaugurated Prelate, the clergy gathered for prayer and to discuss various parish, community, and faith related concerns to enrich and unify the faithful.
Reception for the Government of Lebanon, Wednesday, September 27
This year’s summer camp for orphans that took place in Dzaghgatsor, Armenia, was very successful with 75 children attending the annual summer event. Archpriest Fr. Aram Stepanian, pastor of St. Stephen Church in Connecticut, and the founder and director of the summer camp noted that although the camp session is over, the program continues. Year round, until next year, every Sunday the counselors take groups of campers to church. After the Badarak they enjoy fellowship together and often take field trips. Last week they visited Gyumri, where the devastating earthquake took place in 1988.

A group photo of children who attended the summer camp outside the “Seven Wound Church” in Gyumri during a recent visit to the church.

The pastor of the Seven Wound Church blesses the children and staff and explains the history of the church.

One of the important publications on contemporary Armenian issues this year is Secret Nation: The Hidden Armenians of Turkey , by Avedis Hadjian, released by I. B. Tauris a few months ago. The widely reviewed book, characterized in the Times Literary Supplement as “intrepid, eccentric and grimly fascinating,” is the result of a painstaking investigation that took the author, a freelance journalist, to seek the traces of Islamized Armenians throughout towns and villages of Anatolia and Western Armenia, record stories of survival and discovery, and condense his findings into an absorbing account.

Avedis Hadjian will present Secret Nation at the Armenian Prelacy on Thursday, November 1, at 7:00 pm. The author is a name familiar to New York Armenians, as he lived here a few years ago before relocating to Venice (Italy), and was also active in the community. He has worked for CNN and Bloomberg News, among others, and his writing in English and Spanish has appeared in major international news outlets. His work as a correspondent has taken him to Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, China, the Caucasus, Turkey, and Latin America.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. For more information and to RSVP for the event, please call 212-689-7810 or write to 

Larissa Hovannisian, founder and CEO of Teach for Armenia, and marketing and communications coordinator Tatev Ghazaryan visited the Prelacy on Monday, September 24. They met Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, and ANEC Director Dr. Vartan Matiossian. Teach for Armenia, founded in 2013, is a nation-wide movement of impact-driven leaders expanding educational opportunities to all children in Armenia. They recruit top talents from Armenia and the Diaspora to serve as teachers (“fellows”) for two years in Armenia’s most underserved communities. The young visitors presented an overview of the activities of Teach for Armenia and explored venues for cooperation.

Bible readings for Sunday, September 30, Third Sunday of the Exaltation, Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak are, Proverbs 3:18-26; Isaiah 65:22-25; Galatians 6:14-18; Matthew 24:30-36.

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. (Matthew 24:30-36)


But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision accounts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.

Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. (Galatians 6:14-18)

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

This Saturday, September 29, the Armenian Church commemorates St. George (Kevork) the Commander, a third century Roman general who challenged the Emperor’s persecution of Christians by publicly tearing up the Emperor’s decree, and urging others to follow his example. To this day he remains a popular saint in the Armenian Church and is the patron saint of soldiers and scouts. As in many other instances, the Armenians have given St. George an Armenian national character. The Feast of St. George is always on the Saturday before the Feast of the Holy Cross of Varak that is preceded by a week of fasting (Monday to Friday). Although the fast is not connected to St. George, through the centuries it has been popularly identified as the Fast of St. George.

Also commemorated this week:
Thursday, September 27, Bishops Barlaam, Anthimus, and Irenaeus.
Monday, October 1, St. David of Tvin.
Tuesday, October 2, St. Eustace.
Thursday, October 4, Princes Sts. Sahag and Hamazasp.

Der Kapriel blesses the two flags.
Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence, Rhode Island, joined with the other parishes of the Eastern Prelacy in offering special prayers for the Republic of Armenia on the occasion of the 27 th anniversary of independence. Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian blessed new flags, both the tricolor flag of Armenia and the stars and stripes of the United States, to be flown on the church’s flag poles.
On this special day, Der Kapriel and the Board of Trustees also held a very special dedication ceremony for the newly renovated Youth Center in honor of Peter “Doc” Bedrosian for his many years of service, both to the community and especially to the youth. The Board hosted a beautiful coffee hour fellowship in honor of the occasion.
Dedication of the renovated youth center.

Rev. Fr. Sarkis Aktavoukian celebrates the Liturgy.
Last Sunday Soorp Khatch Church of Bethesda, Maryland, offered a special prayer and thanksgiving service during the Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the 27 th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia. On this occasion the flags of Armenia and Artsakh were blessed with the participation of the Scouts.

The Scouts present the flags for the blessing.
Soorp Khatch Church's annual Food FEstival took place September 20 to 22. The three day festival was enjoyed by the Armenian community, as well as neighbors, in the greater Washington D.C. area.
Birth of Romanos Melikian
(October 1, 1883)
In the constellation of Armenian musicians from the first half of the twentieth century, between names like Gomidas Vartabed, Aram Khachatourian, Alexander Spentiarian, Parsegh Ganachian, and others, Romanos Melikian appears as a less shining star.

He was born on October 1, 1883, in the city of Kizlyar, in the region of Daghestan (Northern Caucasus). He received his primary education in the parochial school, and continued his studies at the diocesan school of Nor Nakhichevan, where his first music teacher was Kevork Chorekjian (the future Catholicos of All Armenians Kevork VI). In 1900, at the age of seventeen, he became the choirmaster of the church of Surp Kevork in Nor Nakhichevan. He graduated in 1902 and went to study at the musical school of Rostov. In those years, he had already arranged Armenian popular songs and liturgical hymns for choir. In 1905 he left for Moscow and, after a year of private classes, he was admitted to the Popular Conservatory and directed the choir of the Lazarian Institute.

Poor health and financial constraints forced Melikian to leave his education unfinished and return to Nor Nakhichevan. He then went to Tiflis, where he took a position as a music teacher at the Hovnanian School from 1908-1910. He gathered young musicians working within the local Armenian schools and created the Musical League in 1908 with composer Azat Manoukian. He continued composing songs for schools, using popular motifs.

He returned to school in 1910 and studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory until 1914. He went back to Tiflis in 1915 and continued teaching. He had his first authorial concert in 1920, at the age of thirty-seven. A year later, the government of Soviet Armenia invited him to Yerevan to found a musical studio, which became a conservatory two years later. In 1924 he went to Stepanakert, the new capital of Karabagh, and founded a music school, and then went back to Tiflis, where he led the activities of the musical section and the musical school of the Armenian Art House ( Hayartun ).

Romanos Melikian returned to Yerevan in 1926, where he established friendly relations with Spentiarian. He participated in the work of staging Spentiarian’s celebrated opera Almast and in the foundation of the Opera of Yerevan in 1933. He raised the issue of gathering Gomidas’ musical heritage in Armenia.

Composer, musician, and educator, Melikian continued producing songs until the end of his days. Some of them are still part of the repertoire of soloists and choirs. He passed away on March 30, 1935, in Tiflis, and was buried in the Pantheon of Yerevan. One of the musical schools of Yerevan is named after him, as well as streets in Yerevan and other cities of Armenia. 

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s website ( ).

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(Prepared by Armenian National Education Committee)
Of Trust and Confidence

As it happens with so many words, the belief or reliance on the veracity, integrity, good will, or other virtues of someone has two different terms in English. Both of them are Indo-European in origin. One of them has Germanic roots. “Trust” comes from Old Norse traust, which derives from Proto-Germanic *traustam < * treuwaz, which in the end has its source in the Proto-Indo-European (P.I.E.) root *deru “be firm, solid, steadfast.”

The other word, “confidence,” has Latin origin. It comes either from Old French confidence or directly from Latin confidentia, which in the end is a compound word: com is probably an intensive prefix—namely, a word that gives more emphasis—and fidere means “to trust.” The source of fidere is one of those P.I.E. roots that do not look at all like their descendent to the untrained eye: *bheidh “to trust, confide, persuade.” Let’s not forget, however, that there are more than a couple of thousand years between the Latin word and the putative P.I.E. root. (To be remembered: the words with an asterisk are not directly attested, but it is supposed that they have existed on the basis of comparative evidence.)

Of course, since the concept is one, there is one Armenian word for both English terms: վստահութիւն ( vustahootyoon ). Armenian, like French or Spanish do at times, combines an adjective with a suffix to yield the corresponding noun. Here, վստահ ( vustah  “sure; reliable; daring”) comes into play with the suffix – ութիւն (ootyoon) . If you want the verb, you just need to put together vustah and the desinence –իլ ( il ) to obtain վստահիլ (“to trust”).

Do not be surprised: vustah is attested in Classical Armenian and has Iranian origin. It is derived from Pahlavi (the Iranian dialect spoken by the Parthians, from which the Arshakuni family came) vistaxv “sure, reliable, daring; insolent.” Of course, someone who is daring may become insolent in the absence of self-control. But the Armenian language borrowed the word vustah without keeping that meaning. When you are vusdah, you are basically sure or confident about something, or you trust someone.

Of course, in God we trust. However, there are people around you who also deserve your trust. It is a good virtue to practice vustahootyoon .     

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site ( ).
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.

September 22, 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.

September 29 —Special Live Concert featuring Arsen Grigoryan, sponsored by Philadelphia’s Artemis Chapter of the Armenian Relief Society, at 7:30 pm in Founders Hall of St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia. The concert will benefit the ARS’s “Sponsor a Birth” program in Gyumri, Armenia. Donation $50 (includes hors d’oeuvres and desserts). For tickets: Elizabeth Dramgotchian (215) 920-6054; Madonna Kzirian (215) 760-4106; Rima Chapanian (856) 981-8203.

October 13 —Annual Armenian Bazaar by St. Gregory Church, 135 Goodwin Street, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, 11 am to 6 pm. Visitors are invited to enjoy many favorite Armenian dinners including shish kebab and rice pilaf. Both traditional Armenian and American baked goods, such as paklava and spinach-cheese pie. Take out will be available by calling ahead (413-543-4763). Admission and parking are free. For more information contact the church office (413-543-4763).

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: .

November 4 —The Anthropology/Armenian Museum partnering with the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) will present the films “The Promise” and “Intent to Destroy” at 5 pm. Joe Berlinger, Director of “Intent to Destroy” will be the speaker at the Q&A. Tickets to view both films are $15 per person. Access to visit the exhibits at MOMI is included. To order tickets call 718-428-5650.

December 2 —Banquet in honor of His Grace Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, newly-elected Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy at Terrace on the Park. SAVE THE DATE.

May 2, 2019 —60 th anniversary of Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey. SAVE THE DATE.

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