The 777th anniversary of Gandzasar’s consecration
July 23, 2017 will mark the 777th anniversary of consecration of the Gandzasar St. John the Baptist Monastery of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. On the occasion of the remarkable day, the Artsakh Diocese plans to implement some programs and measures dedicated to the festivities. The first big program was launched on November 13, in Gandzasar. With the participation of pilgrims and other people from different regions of Armenia and Artsakh, deputy leader of the Artsakh Diocese, Archimandrite Sahak Shakaryan and other clergymen served a holy liturgy in the Gandzasar Monastery, after which tree planting took place in the Monastery's eastern flank. This pre-holiday program, which is important for Artsakh and all Armenians, involved also representatives of the ‘Brotherhood Church of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church’ religious and ‘Zephyr’ environment-protection public organizations. Such programs are important for the preservation of the spiritual values, appreciation of the heritage left by our ancestors, and for passing all this to the younger generation.
The liturgy served in the Gandzasar St. John the Baptist Church on the eve of the famous day was aimed at uniting All Armenians around the legacy left by our ancestors and paying tribute to their memory. During the liturgy, the deputy leader of the Artsakh Diocese referred to the history of founding the Gandzasar Monastery. Gandzasar was the primacy and the Khachen princes' ancestral mausoleum. Thanks to the care by Hasan-Jalalyan dynasty's princes, Gandzasar maintained its role as a spiritual center. The monastery had a rich manuscript house and a seminary, where high-value manuscripts were created and spiritual figures were trained, contributing to the development of the intellectual and cultural life in Khachen and the neighboring regions.
The Gandzasar St. John the Baptist Church was built in 1216-1238, through the direct initiative and investments of Artsakh Prince Hasan Jalal Dolay. The church was consecrated in 1240, during the patriarchy of Catholicos Ter Nerses from Aghvan. In 1400-1816, Gandzasar was the seat of the Catholicoses from Aghvan. According to Kirakos Gandzakets, Hasan Jalalyan left a testament for the present generation, in which he described in details how the dying father, Vakhtang Tangik, bequeathed his son, Hassan Jalal, and his wife Khorishan, who was the daughter of Prince Sargis Zakaryan of the princely Bagratuni Dynasty, to build the church of Gandzasar. Despite all the difficulties and full of faith, Hassan Jalalyan started the foundation of the wonderful monument in 1216. According to historical facts, the head of John the Baptist, the blood of St. John the Baptist's father, Zacharia, the holy relics of St. Gregory the Illuminator, his grandson Gregoris, doctor St. Pantaleon, and other martyrs are kept here.
Today, Gandzasar is a hearth of blessing for All Armenians. Father Sahak urged those present to remain faithful to the precepts of our ancestors and to the Christian confession. And as a Christian should be involved in the events taking place in his country and have his contribution to the development and prosperity of his homeland, so by the tree planting the pilgrims tried to preserve in this way and to upgrade the legacy of their ancestors. The participants of the event, forgetting the hardships of today's life and the enemy's threats, confirmed that they should firmly base on their belief and ancestral heritage, hoping to see once-powerful Armenia.
Archimandrite Sahak Shakaryan conveyed Archbishop Pargev Martirosyan’s blessing to the people. The pilgrims, who had come from Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor and other regions, joined the Artsakh people, praying God for peace, for prosperous and powerful homeland. And the tree planting is a form of prayer on the eve of the celebration of the 777th anniversary of Gandzasar’s consecration.
After the liturgy, four kinds of trees - two kinds of plum, pear and apple – were planted in the eastern flank of the Monastery.
The program aimed to unite All Armenians around a common idea and to involve everyone in the upcoming event. According to Father Sahak, extensive works on Gandzasar's reconstruction and improvement of the territory will be conducted on the eve the anniversary. Works on cleaning and fencing the cemetery of the Complex are underway.
At the end, the pilgrims participated in the ceremony of bread-and-butter blessing and distribution.