September 28, 2017
The Monastery of Varak before 1915.

This Sunday, October 1, 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 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 historical 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)

Clergy from the three North American Prelacies (Eastern, Western, and Canadian) will convene next week in Montreal, Canada, for a joint Clergy Conference, under the auspices of the three Prelates, Archbishop Oshagan, Archbishop Moushegh, and Archbishop Papken. The theme of the Conference will concentrate on the 2017 theme of Renewal. The Conference is hosted by the Prelacy of Canada.
The sixth Pan-Armenian Armenia-Diaspora conference, organized by the Armenian Diaspora Ministry, took place September 18-20 in Yerevan. The conference, under the theme of “Mutual Trust, Unity and Responsibility,” brought together 1,800 representatives of Armenian diaspora organizations from more than 70 countries. Messages were delivered by President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I.

Watch H.H. Aram I Catholicos at the 6th Armenia-Diaspora Conference below.
Throughout his service to the Church, Archbishop Oshagan has been actively involved in the worldwide ecumenical movement. He has served in executive positions on the Middle East Council of Churches, has served as a delegate to the World Council of Churches Assemblies; represented the Catholicosate on various ecumenical dialogues for Christian unity. He is currently the President of the Christian and Arab Middle Eastern Churches Together (CAMECT); and actively supports the recently formed In Defense of Christians (IDC).
As a member of the religious advisory board of IDC, Archbishop Oshagan is encouraging Christian clergy and lay leaders to join him at the IDC 2017 Summit that will take place October 24-26 in Washington, DC. The theme of the Summit is “American Leadership and Securing a Future for Christians in the Middle East.” In a letter sent to clergy and lay leaders, Archbishop Oshagan said:
“I encourage you to attend this important gathering and join with people around the world in advocating for International Recognition of the Armenian Genocide; Security and Stability in Lebanon; Emergency Relief for Victims of Genocide in Iraq and Syria; Accountability for the Policies of American Allies in the Middle East; Increased efforts to identify and punish perpetrators of genocide in the ISIS genocide against minorities.”
His Eminence concludes his message noting that “these issues are vital and it is up to us to advocate for the U.S. government to stand with Middle Eastern Christians.”
To learn more about In Defense of Christians (IDC) and the 2017 Summit in Washington, DC go to www.indefenseofchristians

The Archbishops and dignitaries during the prayer service prior to the concert.
A special prayer service and beautiful concert commemorated the 26 th anniversary of the independence of Armenia last Thursday at St. Vartan Cathedral in New York City. The event was hosted by Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and participation of the Diocese and Prelacy and 18 Armenian organizations. The concert featured cellist Laura Navasardian, pianist Michael Kakossian Khoury, violinist Simon Hagopian-Rogers, and pianist Sahan Arzruni. You can view the concert via the Diocese’s Livestream channel. Click here.
Last Sunday Prelacy parishes offered special prayers of thanksgiving and blessed the tri-colored Armenian flag on the occasion of the 26 th anniversary of the independence of Armenia. At St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in New York, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan led the prayer service with the participation of Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian and altar servers.
Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, pastor, and Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian, pastor-emeritus, lead the prayer service and blessing of the flag at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence, Rhode Island.
Prayers for the Republic and the blessing of the flag took place at Sts. Vartanantz Church in New Jersey with V. Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian and Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian. Hayr Zareh delivered the Sermon.

In anticipation of the 50 th anniversary of the ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan, that will officially be celebrated on Sunday, October 29, a group of young adults have organized “Cocktails for a Cause,” to benefit the Karen Jeppe Armenian College in Aleppo. The event will take place at StudioArte, 265 W. 37 th Street, New York City. His Eminence taught literature and religion for a number of years at the Karen Jeppe College and is pleased that proceeds from this event will help the college recover and resume its educational leadership role in the area.
The Religious and Executive Councils of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, invite you to attend a Jubilee Celebration in honor of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate, on the occasion of the 50 th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
His Eminence will celebrate the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, October 29, 10 am, at St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City, presided by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia.
Following the Liturgy a reception and dinner will take place at The Lotte New York Palace, 455 Madison Avenue, New York City.

Bishop Anoushavan, Vicar General of the Prelacy, has been visiting Lebanon, where he recently visited the newly built Armenian United College, replacing six local schools in Bourdj Hamoud. The school serves students from Kindergarten up to 12 th grade. The school began the academic year with an enrollment of 750 students. Accompanying the Vicar were Bishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate of Lebanon, and Father Sarkis Sarkisian, chairman of the Religious Council.

Bishop Anoushavan, Bishop Shahe, and Father Sarkis with 12 th grade students.
The clergymen with Kindergarten students.
During his recent visit to Lebanon, Bishop Anoushavan presented a lecture at a conference for Sunday school teachers organized by the Religious Council of Lebanon. The theme of His Grace’s lecture was Renewal—the 2017 theme as designated by His Holiness Aram I.
On Sunday September 24, Bishop Anoushavan celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Holy Church of the Forty Martyrs in Bourdj Hamoud.

The Conference for Sunday school teachers where Bishop Anoushavan lectured.
Bishop Anoushavan surrounded by parishioners of Bourdj Hamoud’s Church of the Forty Martyrs.
In New York City:
The Feast of the Holy Cross ( Khatchverats ) was celebrated by Prelacy parishes on Sunday, September 17. At St. Illuminator’s Cathedral the Divine Liturgy was marked with the Andastan service (Blessing of the field), during which the Cross was adorned with sweet basil ( rehan ), and the four corners of the Church were blessed as a symbol of the entire world. Following the services, Madagh dedicated to the 102 nd heroic battle of Musa Dagh, was distributed to parishioners in John Pashalian Hall.

In Ridgefield, New Jersey:
The Exaltation of the Cross took place at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey, with the traditional Andastan service, and Madagh following the Divine Liturgy.

Bible readings for Sunday, October 1, 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 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 30, 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:
Monday, October 2, St. David of Tvin.
Tuesday, October 3, St. Eustace.
Thursday, October 5, Princes Sahag and Hamazasp.

Archbishop Oshagan during the Divine Liturgy.
Holy Trinity Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, celebrated its 83 rd anniversary last Sunday. Archbishop Oshagan celebrated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon. An anniversary celebration took place following the Liturgy at Cyprian Keyes Golf Club in Boylston. Richard Greenhalgh served as the Master of Ceremonies during the event that also featured the impressions of Rita Bahnan and Kohar Avakian,l members of the AYF who served as interns in Armenia.
Archbishop Oshagan and Very Rev. Fr.Sahag Yemishian at the anniversary cake.
A scene from the anniversary celebration.

The opening day of Nareg Saturday Armenian School took place at Sts. Vartanantz Church in New Jersey on September 16. The students received Holy Communion and Rev. Fr. Hovnan Bozoian gave his blessings to them and wished them a successful year. Later the students enjoyed breakfast prepared and served by the school’s PTO in the large hall. After breakfast the students went to their classrooms to meet their teachers and begin the new term.

St. Sarkis Church’s Suzanne and Hovsep Hagopian Armenian School opened the new term on September 16. Students were greeted by Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, the principal, and a team of dedicated teachers, all of whom warmly welcomed the students back to school. The individual class rooms were beautifully decorated to welcome the students and to look forward to an exciting and successful academic year.


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The Ladies Guild of St. Sarkis Church, Douglaston, New York, and the ARS Erebouni New York Chapter hosted the screening of Bared Maronian’s award-winning documentary, “Women of 1915,” on September 15. The movie depicts the life journey of brave women survivors of the Armenian Genocide, illustrating the unimaginable indignities the women endured and the horrors they witnessed. The documentary also brings to light the enormous efforts of the European and American Missionaries in various regions of historic Armenia, who rescued countless women and children. The 90 minute film captivated the audience as did the heartfelt performance by Hooshere Bezdikian Kaligian prior to the screening. The film’s creator, Bared Maronian, was present and participated in a Q&A session.

The Megerian Family, members of St. Sarkis Church of Douglaston, New York, was honored to present His Holiness Aram I with Megerian’s Signature Lori Design Armenian Rug. The Megerian family presented rugs of the same design to notable individuals, including Pope Francis, Catholicos Karekin II, Charles Aznavour, and George and Amal Clooney, for their contributions to Armenian culture.
His Holiness Aram I, who was in Armenia for the Armenia-Diaspora Conference, welcomed Raffi, Toros, and John Megerian at his guest residence in Holy Etchmiadzin on Tuesday, September 19. Also present were Archbishop Sebouh Sarkissian, Prelate of Tehran; Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian, Prelate of Aleppo; and Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church.
The Megerians presented a brief history of the Megerian Family’s plight during the Armenian Genocide and explained the significance of the Lori Design and the age-old tradition of Armenian rug weaving. His Holiness thanked the Megerian family and congratulated them on the 100 th anniversary of their dedicated work in the art of Armenian rug weaving. He invited them to visit Antelias, Lebanon, to introduce the culture and traditions of Armenian rugs to the large Armenian community in Lebanon.

Birth of Henrik Malian (September 30, 1925)

Henrik Malian, one of the most popular filmmakers in Soviet Armenia from the 1960s, was born in Telavi (Georgia) on September 30, 1925. After working during his teens as a draftsman at the aviation factory of Tbilisi (1942-1945), he moved to Yerevan. Here he studied at the Institute of Art and Theatre of Yerevan, in the section of direction, from 1945 to 1951. He continued his graduate studies in Moscow, where he finished courses of film and theater direction at the State Institute of Theatrical Art “Anatoli Lunacharsky” in 1953.
Malian’s career started in 1951 as a director in theaters of various towns of Armenia (Artashat, Kirovakan, Ghapan) and on television. In 1954 he entered Armenfilm, the cinema studios, where he was first an assistant director and, since the 1960s, a director. In 1961-1962 he spent a year at the Mosfilm studios, where he studied with two noted Soviet directors, Mikhail Kalatozov (Kalatozishvili) and Sergei Bondarchuk.

Malian’s first films were of a genre that mixed lyricism and comedy, such as The Guys of the Orchestra (1960), Road to the Circus (1963), and Monsieur Jacques and Others (1964). His breakthrough came with The Triangle (1967), one of his best films, which was crucial for the creation of a poetic style in Armenian cinema. The film was endowed with immediacy and a delicate taste for direction, with a powerful artistic discourse. He won the State Award of Armenia in 1975 for this film.
Malian characterized his films by the election of apparently minimal subjects, which he later turned into meaningful, psychologically deep generalizations. The fate of his heroes, their thoughts and experiences were linked to the events of their time. Such was the case of his next works: We Are Our Mountains (1969), Father (1972), and especially Nahapet (1977), which was released in the United States as Life Triumphs. The latter, for which he wrote the screenplay on a short novel by Hrachia Kochar, touched for the first time in Armenia the relatively taboo subject of the Armenian Genocide through the lenses of a survivor and his attempt to rebuild life after the catastrophe. 
Malian became People’s Artist of Armenia in 1977 and People’s Artist of the Soviet Union in 1982. He also wrote and directed A Piece of Sky (1980), a reconstruction of life in pre-genocide Kharpert, based on a fragment of Vahan Totoventz’s memoir Life on the Ancient Roman Road . He would still write several films in the 1980s, such as Gikor (1982, based on Hovhannes Tumanian’s short story) and White Dreams (1985, also based on another episode of Totoventz’s memoir), and direct and write A Drop of Honey (1984, also based on a short story by Tumanian). Yearning (1990), the first film to address Stalin’s repression, was posthumously filmed, on a screenplay written by Malian and Ruben Hovsepian (based on another short novel by Hrachia Kochar).
Henrik Malian was not only a director, but also a long-time teacher. He taught at the Khachatur Abovian Pedagogical Institute (now University) from 1971-1988, and was chair of Direction and Master Acting from 1975 on. He was a professor at his alma mater, the Institute of Art and Theater, from 1982 to 1988. In 1980 he founded and directed the Theater-Studio for Film Actors, which was renamed after him in 1988.
He passed away prematurely, at the age of 62, on March 14, 1988, in Yerevan. The Henrik Malian Theater Studio is now directed by his daughter, the actress Narine Malian.

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

Charts and Cards, and Their Common Origins

In the old days, when you went to some unknown place, you produced a map of the area. Usually, you called it “map,” and not “chart,” although both words are synonyms. But until today you talk of the “uncharted waters” or the “uncharted country.”

Chart was derived from Middle French charte (“map, card”), whose origin is actually Late Latin ( charta “paper, card, map”). Late Latin charta (“leaf of paper, tablet”) was also the origin for Middle French carte and English card.

Both words in English have their similar terms in Armenian. The word քարտէս ( kardes ), with the alternative spelling քարտէզ ( kardez )—although the first form is more usual—came from the Greek khartes (“layer of papyrus, writing, letter, decree”), which was the actual source for the Latin term. It is supposed that, because of the papyrus connection, khartes actually originated in the Egyptian language.

The same word kardez was used in medieval times with the meaning of “letter,” as its Greek source. Interestingly, it also developed an original meaning during the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia: “money.” It was the name for certain bronze coins.

The suffix –es or –ez was dropped in the Armenian word քարտ ( kard ), which is used today either alone, with the meanings of “play card” or “visiting card,” or in the compound words այցեքարտ ( aytsekard ) and խաղաքարտ ( khaghakard ), with the same meanings. Of course, it is also used in other words, like the now almost defunct “card catalogue” ( քարտարան/kardaran ).

Incidentally, the word kard with the meaning “play card” may be replaced by the synonym թուղթ (tught ) or խաղաթուղթ ( khaghatooght ), while we may also use տոմս ( doms) or այցետոմս ( aytsedoms) to say “visiting card.”

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

SIAMANTO ACADEMY— Join the next session on Saturday, October 21, 2017: Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: or 212-689-7810.

October 2-6 —Clergy Conference for Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies will take place in Montreal, hosted by the Prelacy of Canada.

October 7 —Sts. Vartanantz Church, Ridgefield, New Jersey presents “The Battle of the Bands.” Dance all night with two bands featuring Onnig Dinkjian and Kevork Artinian. Mezza and Dessert tables. For information and reservations contact: Bea Movsesian 201-445-6867; Lynn Mahlebjian 201-739-6217; Silva Kouyoumdjian 201-779-6744.

October 7-8 —50th Anniversary Weekend, St. Gregory the Illuminator Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Saturday evening: “Golden Evening Kef Celebration,” featuring the Vosbikian Band. Sunday, Golden Anniversary Banquet, following the Divine Liturgy. 

October 14 —Armenian Friends of America, Inc., present “Hye Kef 5,” a five hour dance featuring Onnik Dinkjian with John Berberian (Oud); Mal Barsamian (Clarinet); Ara Dinkjian (keyboard); Ron Tutunjian (Dumbeg), at DoubleTree by Hilton, 123 Old River Road, Andover, Massachusetts. Tickets: $55 (before September 1); $65 (after September 1); $50 for students 21 and under. Continuous buffet 7:30 to 9:30 pm; coffee and dessert will follow. Advance tickets only. Proceeds will benefit five Armenian churches. For information: Sharke Der Apkarian 978-808-0598.

October 15 —Opening reception and meet the artist, Emma Grigoryan’s Exhibition at John Pashalian Hall, St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, Manhattan, 1 to 5 pm. Exhibition will remain on view on October 16-18, 2 to 4 pm. The artist’s latest book will be available for preview at the reception.

October 21 —Annual Bazaar of St. Gregory Church, 135 Goodwin Street, Indian Orchard, Massachusetts from 11 am to 6 pm in the church hall. Enjoy many favorite Armenian dinners including shish kebab and rice pilaf. Traditional Armenian and American baked goods will be featured. Take-out available. Admission and parking are free. For information: (413) 543-4763.

October 22 —92 nd Anniversary of St. Stephen Church of Hartford/New Britain, Connecticut. 1 pm at The Casa Mia at The Hawthorne, 2421 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin, Connecticut. Divine Liturgy on this day will begin at 10 am.

October 26 —“Cocktails for a Cause,” to benefit Karen Jeppe Armenian College in Aleppo, in honor of the 50 th anniversary of the ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan. A magnificent night of friends, music, mezze, cocktails, 7 pm at StudioARTE, 265 W. 37 th Street, New York City. For information: .

October 29 —Celebrating the 50 th anniversary of the ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, under the auspices and presence of His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia. Divine Liturgy at St. Illuminator Cathedral, 221 East 27 th Street, New York City, at 10 am. Followed by reception and dinner at The New York Palace, 455 Madison Avenue, New York City.

November 2 —4 th annual Steak Dinner (10 oz. Deluxe New York Strip Sirloin) sponsored by Men’s Club, Holy Trinity Church, Worcester, Massachusetts, 5:30 pm to 7 pm. $20 per person. For tickets contact Peter Kallanian by telephone (508-852-5328) or email ( ).

November 11 and 12 —Armenian Fest 2017, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, Providence, Rhode Island, Annual Food Festival at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston. Featuring chicken, losh and shish kebabs and kufta dinners. Armenian delicacies, dancing to live music, arts and crafts, flea market, gift baskets, children’s corner, country store, jewelry, hourly raffles. Armenian Dance Group will perform on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm. Armenian food and pastry available all day. Saturday from noon to 9 pm; Sunday noon to 7 pm. Free admission and parking. Valet parking available. For information: Go to www.armenianfestri/ or 401-831-6399.

November 16 — Join Armenia Tree Project and Paros Foundation for a fundraiser to support kitchen renovations, beautification and environmental education at the school in Rind, Vayots Dzor. Featuring live performance by singer/songwriter Hooshere and silent auction featuring fine art and luxury gift items. Almayass Restaurant, 24 E. 21st Street, New York. 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Donation: $100 in advance, $125 at door. For more information, please contact .
December 5-8 —World General Assembly of the Great House of Cilicia, at the Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon.
The Armenian Prelacy 
Tel: 212-689-7810 ♦ Fax: 212-689-7168 ♦ Email:

Visit the Catholicosate webpage at