“This is, this is, the Only Begotten Descended,
My King of the virgin birth,
To Whom I am the bride
To the world-land of Togarmah’s descendants.”
The Old Testament places Paradise on the shores of the Aradzani River (Eastern Euphrates). According to the story of Noah, Mount Ararat was the beginning of a new humanity and culture. It is true that the Apostles St Thaddeus and Bartholomew preached Christianity in Armenia from where our Apostolic origin is rooted however it was the spiritual awakening and vision of St Gregory the Illuminator of the Only Begotten descending from heaven. He outlined the appearance of the Cathedral, which would serve as a bridge or stairway between earth and heaven.
King Tiridates carried down rocks from Mt Masis to build the temple, Queen Ashkhen and the King’s sister Khosrovidoukht moved soil with their aprons, and palace officials, ministers and soldiers joined in the construction, bringing stone, wood, silver, gold and gold material. Every single member of the nation contributed to the construction of this Sanctuary, the Mother of all other churches.
“This temple of God is not only the home of the believers’ prayers and petitions, but also the seat of the high priesthood, which is “an example of the incarnation of the image of Christ.” By descending upon Armenia it was sanctified, the Armenian people became a Holy and Elected nation.”
The Armenian statehood changed over the centuries, as did the Church with its Patriarchal See relocated to, Dvin, Zvartnots, Ani, Hromgla, Sis, until in 1441 when it returned to its native cradle, Holy Echmiadzin.
The cathedral, as a functioning structure, has undergone centuries of renovations and changes, for example, in the day of Ghazar Parpetsi in 480 AD, and in the day of Catholicos Komitas in 618 a stone-built central dome was built. In 1614, instead of moving Etchmiadzin completely, Shah Abbas removed 15 stones transporting them to New Julfa in order for the Armenians who had been displaced to forget Holy Etchmiadzin and be tied to Persian soil. Around 1627, Movses Tatevatsi undertook major renovations to the Mother Cathedral and the monastery. In 1658, Catholicos Hagop Jughayetsi added the bell tower, and the museum adjacent to the cathedral was built in 1870 by George II. The last major renovation was during the tenure of Vazken I in the 1960s. Over the centuries, in spite of the repairs, the elements of nature have imposed ruin, the stone has lost its strength, the mortar between the stones has become dust, rusting of even the heaviest iron has made it useless. Today, this is the state of the holiness of our sacred Holy Etchmiadzin. It is a miracle it has not been devastated from earthquakes. The God-given gift of being anointed with the vision of St Gregory the Illuminator has come to us through our ancestors, through faith, prayer, sweat, unspeakable sacrifice and blood.
It is now the responsibility of all of us to respond to the call of Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians to contribute financially to the restoration of Holy Etchmiadzin so it can continue to intercede for us and future generations as the New Zion, the Stairway to Jacob, the Saviour of the Armenian World.
The renovation of the cathedral must be so beautiful and proper that we can say to Stepanos Syunetsi, “Its restoration for us is such that we will never remember its previous glory” or, to say to any author, “Through this renovation of the Sacred Sanctuary our House in the East flourished, blossomed.” (referring to the geographical location of the Mother Church- Etchmiadzin in view of the Western Churches Byzantium, Rome)
Dear fellow Armenians, only with our collective effort we can save Holy Etchmiadzin. This requires a united stance, conviction and faith.
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Chairman of the Restoration Committee of Holy Etchmiadzin will arrive in Sydney on February 28 raise donations from our Community.
Let us support the Appeal and spare no efforts to restore the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.
Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian – Primate