On Sunday 24 April 2016 an Episcopal Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Haigazoun Najarian, as well as a blessing ceremony of the replica of the Holy Martyrs icon that was commissioned specifically for the canonisation ceremony at Holy Etchmiadzin in 2015.

Following the church service, the holy icon accompanied a procession headed by the Primate and the Mayor of Willoughby with clergy, Diocesan and Church Councillors, diaconate, choirs, Homenetmen scouts and parishioners to the Memorial Khachkar in Beauchamp Park for a special remembrance service compiled for the new holy saints.

The Significance of the Icon

It is a unique work of iconography, depicting the first “new” saints to be recognised by the Armenian Church in several centuries: the martyrs who (in the words of the official prayer of intercession) “gave their lives during the Armenian Genocide for faith and for the homeland.” The Holy Martyrs are portrayed in the dress typical of the Ottoman empire in 1915, and represent all ranks of Western Armenian society: men, women, children, and the elderly; merchants, intellectuals, artists, clergymen, farmers—all of whom perished in the brutal crime of 1915.

Although the icon directly depicts God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the figure of Christ is not explicitly shown. However, the artist’s intention is that the multitude of figures represents the mystical Body of Christ: his holy Church. In this way, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity are present in the icon.

In the manner of our Lord at his resurrection, the martyrs travel from Death to Life, emerging upon the precincts of God’s heavenly kingdom as the Church Victorious. Their path is bordered by desecrated khatchkars and the shattered remains of Armenian monuments, suggesting the centuries of sacred and material culture lost to the Armenians when they were driven from their historic land.

His Holiness Karekin II and a special council of bishops approved the icon for display as a sacred image. The original is on view at the museum of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, in the Republic of Armenia.

The consecration took place at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin on 23 April, 2015 .