Armenia, from the Homeland to the Holy Land


Holy Sepulcher church in Jerusalem, watching the small group of people carefully wiping down the tomb and refilling the oil lamps.

The priests cleaned with a certain habit, but the pilgrims did it with awe and tears in their eyes. It was an incredibly special moment for them, to simply clean the church on the piece of land where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried.

A small nation with a large diaspora, Armenians administer some of the most valued Christian sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and elsewhere in Israel, like the Holy Sepulchre, the Saint James Cathedral, the Church of the Nativity, and the Tomb of Saint Mary. They have shared that responsibility with Catholics, Orthodox Greeks, and other smaller groups since 1852, when the Ottoman Empire brokered an agreement that persists to this day.

Women pray in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank.
1: An Armenian pilgrim sweeps the floor around the edicule that encloses what is believed to be the tomb of Jesus Christ. 2: Archbishop Sevan Gharibian, the Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, walks after a procession in the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem.
Armenian women pray in the Grotto, which is believed to be the cave where Jesus Christ was born, in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
As the Armenian Apostolic service is over, a worker starts letting in people of other nationalities who are not allowed in during the Armenian service. Armenian priests hold church services inside the Grotto twice a day.

Armenians have lived in Jerusalem for centuries. Unlike many places around the world, they settled here before the genocide of 1915. According to several historical accounts, they began arriving in the 4th century after officially converting to Christianity. Today, the Armenian Quarter makes up one-sixth of Jerusalem’s Old City.

There are between 700 and 1,000 Armenians in Jerusalem today, according to various sources. But there are concerns about the community’s future. One has to be Armenian to own a house in the Armenian Quarter, and continuing unrest in Jerusalem, coupled with a general feeling that Armenians are not welcome as an ethnic group, have meant the neighborhood is in peril.

For pilgrims who visit from Armenia, it is the holy sites of Jerusalem and Bethlehem that draw them there; not the local community, with whom they have little contact. Christian pilgrims, including Armenians, will continue flooding the Holy Sepulcher and Nativity Church as long as they continue to believe.

Young men study in the Theological Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Seminary will mark its 175th anniversary in 2018. It currently teaches 21 students, but is expecting 18 more in the coming days. Most of them come from Armenia.
1: Children play outside Sts. Tarkmanchatz Armenian School in Jerusalem. 2: Arpine Yezigelyan’s grandson plays on the sofa in there home in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The portrait on the wall shows Yezigelyan with her husband, who was a carpenter at Saint James Cathedral and died several years ago.
Students of the Theological Seminary of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem wait outside the Cathedral of Saint James in Jerusalem.
An Armenian priest’s dog barks on the roof of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
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  1. Today the U.S. plays ball with the country which did the first Holocaust to the Armenians in 1915 while we “celebrate” Holocaust Remembrance Day for Israel, which has yet to acknowledge the first Holocaust by the Turks! What a Joke.
    “The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց ցեղասպանություն,[note 3] Hayots tseghaspanutyun), also known as the Armenian Holocaust,[6] was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians,[note 2] mostly citizens within the Ottoman Empire and its successor state, the Republic of Turkey.[7][8] The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) to the region of Ankara 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases—the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre.[9] Other ethnic groups were similarly targeted for extermination in the Assyrian genocide and the Greek genocide, and their

    • Other ethnic groups were similarly targeted for extermination in the Assyrian genocide and the Greek genocide, and their treatment is considered by some historians to be part of the same genocidal policy.[10][11] Most Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide.[12]”

      Twenty-nine countries and forty-eight U.S. states have adopted resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide as a bona fide historical event.[203]As of 2017, Israel, the United Kingdom and United States do not recognize what happened a century ago as a genocide.[204] Despite his previous public recognition and support of genocide bills, as well as election campaign promises to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide,[205] Barack Obama throughout his two terms as U.S. President, abstained from using the term “genocide”.[206] In his 24 April 2016 commemoration statements Obama referred to the Armenian Genocide by its Armenian synonym, Medz Yeghern (spelled “Meds Yeghern” in the statements).[207] Despite a large number of direct descendants of the Armenian genocide living in Jerusalem, specifically in the Armenian Quarter, Israel still refuses to recognize the genocide.[208]”

  2. Thanks for posting these amazing pictures. At Georgia I had a wonderful friend and colleague with Armenian heritage the late George Adomian, Ph.D. who was a theoretical mathematical physicist with a Ph.D. from U.C.L.A. His kids were very intelligent and sat in on my graduate course in Electricity and Magnetism before they were even out of high school. George was a wonderful totally honest open minded scholar. He deeply resented all the attention to the Jewish history of WWII while the Armenian History of WWI was largely ignored despite the fact that it was much better documented.
    Why only a Holocaust Museum for Jews in D.C.? Why not allow this land, given to them by our government, to be used for the Armenian Holocaust by the Turks in about 1915? Isn’t 3 million murdered and tortured enough? Yet the Armenian Holocaust is slighted, rarely mentioned, while all we hear about is the Jewish one in WWII. How about man’s inhumanity to man throughout history going back to the beginning of time, nearly all routed in mythical religious ignorance and lies, just like the current religious lies perpetuated to justify the current land theft of Israel from the Palestinians. Ignorant religions are the cause of most human suffering and foolish ignorant decisions on the planet. What if engineers were required to be expert in religion instead of mathematics, physics and logic? Our cars would crash, our homes would self destruct, planes would not fly, etc. Ignorance is bliss.

      Was there Really a Holocaust?
      By Dr. E. R. Fields
      “What World Famous Men have said about the Jews”
      Dr. E. R. Fields
      When one observes how ignorant our country and our government are prejudicially favoring Jews over others in society, one would think we were still living in the dark ages. Israel has been permitted to hi jack our government totally against all the principles of our Constitution but few seem to notice or care. Israel did 9/11 as the article at the above link shows along with many others. When will these international outlaws and criminals be brought to justice?

    • And don’t forget the world’s greatest physicist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Father of the Scientific Method, a genius level theoretical and experimental physicist and scholar in Italy, whom the ignorant Catholic Church sought to burn at the stake, for holding his correct views, based on experiments and facts, that the Earth was NOT the center of our Solar System, but the Sun was. It took the ignorant bigots in the totally criminal and corrupt Catholic Church nearly 4 centuries or 400 years to admit they were wrong and Galileo Galilei was correct after all! The only amazing thing is these child molesters admitted it at all! Obviously the ignorant perverts of the Catholic Criminal Business Enterprise called church, are and were slow mentally impaired learners and non scholars. Shame shame shame…. a thousand times on them!

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