Van prepares for second liturgy in Holy Cross Church

Van prepares for second liturgy in Holy Cross Church

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Van Governor’s Office has begun comprehensive preparations, including the construction of a new pier on Lake Van, for a second divine liturgy that will be held on Akhtamar Island’s Church of Holy Cross on September 11, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“The governor’s office is building a large pier that will meet the needs [of visitors] in place of the current pier. Moreover, arrangements are also underway to better serve the guests who will be coming to the island for the divine liturgy,” Van Gov. Münir Karaloğlu said.

“Over 7,000 people attended last year’s ceremony. This year, we are also expecting Armenians from Iran as well. At any rate, there is generally an apparent increase in the [number] of tourists who arrive in Van starting in the month of August,” Karaloğlu said.

“Of course, it is not just Armenians but tourists from all corners of the world who come to Van. We broke a record in [the number of tourist arrivals] during this year’s first six months in comparison to previous years,” he said.

Deputy Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, who will preside over this year’s divine liturgy, said in a press release that no official invitations were going to be sent either to Armenia or to the Diaspora for the September ceremony.

Commenting on the lack of a cross atop the church last year, governor Karaloğlu said: “The Diaspora was saying that another divine liturgy was not going to be allowed. The arguments were fuelled because no crosses were put on [the church.] The cross was put in place after the liturgy, and as you can see, a permit for a liturgy is also being issued for the second time. Past years’ debates regarding the church’s cross were unnecessary.”

The governor also said they had applied to international organizations and received funds to restore several churches and monasteries within the boundaries of the eastern province.

Restoration works for the Ktuts Monastery (Turkish name is Çarpanak), which dates back to the 15th century, will start in a couple of months, the governor said.

When the restoration is completed, Çarpanak will also be open to visitors as a museum, he said.

Holy Cross Church

The 300-seat Holy Cross Church, located on a small island in the middle of Lake Van in eastern Turkey, is in many ways a symbol of the country's Armenian community. The church was built between 915 and 921 during the reign of Armenian King Gagik I of Vaspurakan and was one of the most important religious buildings in the region. The church, whose sandstone walls and dome are adorned with carvings of Jesus Christ and David and Goliath, is considered one of the greatest examples of Armenian architecture of the period, and an inspiration for the Gothic style that later developed in Europe, according to the New York-based Landmarks Foundation, which has advised on the church's restoration. By the end of last century, the church was falling apart due to the heavy rains and winds that swept across the lake.

Following its restoration and reopening in 2007 Holy Cross Church was operating as a museum.

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