Armenian Jerusalem
Partial structural reconstruction begins
Chronicle 1
An Armenian chalice in Wales
The return of the native
Jerusalem Panoramas
Jerusalem owes an immense debt of gratitude to the Armenians, that sturdy clan of indestructible survivors who refuse to be consigned to the rubbish bin of history, in more ways than one, it seems. It is common knowledge that Armenians not only gave the city its first printing press but also its first photographic studio, under the patronage of the visionary Patriarch Yessayi Garabedian. But it is less known that Armenians also contributed the first known Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, as leading armenologist Michael Stone pointed out during a lecture stopover in Sydney, Australia.Speaking to an audience representing the city's diverse Armenian communities, Stone even gave the date the first Armenian
The assembly of Christian churches in Jerusalem have voiced "grave concern" over new moves by the Israeli government to tax vacant church properties. While previous such moves have ended in failure, the Israelis have not tried hard to mask their intention to persist in their efforts to impose an "arnona" (property tax) on properties owned by the various churches which have been unoccupied for some time. The assembly, the Heads of Churches of the Holy City of Jerusalem, a loose conglomeration of the 13 Christian churches officially recognized by the Israeli State, warned of dire consequences should Israel not desist.
pilgrim from Satala (new Melitene/Maghatia), set foot in Jerusalem: around AD 360, half a century only after Armenia became the first nation in history to accept Christianity as its state religion.
Jerusalem’s great debt to the Armenians
Churches protest tax plan
Jerusalem, 2007
The 777 Thai Airways took off from Sydney more than a quarter of an hour late, but the crew made up for it with an abundance of solicitous courtesy and exemplary service. It would be a 9-hour flight to Bangkok and then another gruelling 11 hours aboard an El Al 767 bound for Telaviv. For the first time in 15 years, I was returning to Jerusalem, city of my birth, on an odyssey fraught with expectation and a modicum of trepidation. It would be a journey of rediscovery and reacquaintance. I hate flying but the offer I had been made by North American film company to go to Jerusalem and act as advisor, guide and consultant to the producer, was one I could not refuse. "I'll take a knockout pill, and sleep throughout the flight." With this thought to buttress me, and some Zen training to boost my courage, I got aboard.
Haygan Mardikjan has published a new book, called “The Call of the Crane,” as a testimony to the valiant spirit of courage and endurance under inhuman suffering displayed by her Armenian grandparents who survived the Turkish genocide. The book was originally written in Dutch and translated into English by Sarah Owen who has dedicated her work to the memory of Raffi Hagopian who passed away in the US nine years ago. Mardikjan notes that her grandparents did not receive any recognition for their suffering but revealed that there had been some among the Turks who actuallly helped her family. “Without them my family probably would not have survived the genocide,” she admits. “This book is the fulfilment of my promise to my grandparents to keep their memory alive,” she adds. The book has copious notes and photographs. The book makes for thougthful reading.
New book on Armenian genocide
Miraculous wine jar
The Armenian Patriarchate ofr Jerusalem has begun a “partial structural restoration” of the magnificent Cathedral of St James, with plans for a fullscale renovation at a future date. In a statement issued announcing the move, the Patriarchate noted that “from the earliest day of Christian history in Jerusalem, the Armenians have built magnificent churches and monasteries in the Holy Land to the glory of God and the sustenance of his faith. The statement continues:
In a remote corner of Wales, in a picturesque and historic parish church in the Welsh village of Hawarden, a humble silver chalice stands as a silent testimony to the undying gratitude of a persecuted people. For over 100 years, the chalice has graced the altar of the village church, St. Deiniol, lost in the maze of history and remembered only vaguely in one or other church document, a source of wonder for the Welsh worshippers who prayed at the church. Few people knew how it got there. Fewer still had any inkling what the strange inscription it bore stood for, or what foreign tongue it was inscribed in.
“These wonderful churches and monasteries were built by the generous donations of the lords and princes of the Armenian Kingdom and provinces and people. “St. James Armenian Cathedral in Jerusalem fulfills every aspect of our historic architectural tradition, and it has remained the symbol of pride and prayer for so many centuries to the faithful of every pilgrim who visited the Holy Land. “The presence of St. James containing the tombs of two Saint Jameses solemnize and demonstrates the determination of our brotherhood and nation not only to survive but to prevail in the holy land. “Having said these we appeal to your continued support to your Christian faith and the Armenian heritage to help us restore the sacred Jewel of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which has become also the powerful and effective force in the preservation and growth of our community, our heritage and culture in the Holy Land. “Fired with enthusiasm, the Armenian Patriarch his Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manougian and the brotherhood embarked their dream plan, although a “partial structural restoration” as testimony of their determination to expand with full confidence into the future to complete the restoration of St. James Armenian Cathedral in Jerusalem. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our lord” (II Peter 1:2).
Project receives strong support
The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Calouste Gulbenkian philanthropic foundation have pledged to support of efforts to preserve the history and culture of the Armenian community of the Old City. The kaghakatsis, an appellation that denotes the centuries-long tenure of their sojourn in Jerusalem (unlike their "Vanketsi" cousins who sought refuge in the city during the massacres and settled in the Convent of St James), have amassed a vast treasure trove of history as they enriched the city's unique fabric with their manifold contributions.
The kaghakatsi family tree project has received a tremendous boost with a batch of new contributions from community leader Hagop Hagopian, an LA resident currently visiting Australia.      Hagop has not only traced his clan's family history back to one of the community's most memorable recent ancestors, but also compiled a list of the forgotten colorful clan nicknames that characterized the residents of the Armenian Quarter.      Unfortunately, his records go back only over a century and a half, but they fill in a lot of the blanks in the main database.      Hagop's paternal grandfather was Hagop Hovsepian (he later changed his surname to Hagopian), a Sefer Berlik (First World War) survivor whose several brothers were born to different mothers. Apparently, his father, the patriarchal clan head Yousef El-Banna, married more than four times.      There is a mystery surrounding one of his grandsons, Sahag (Levon's son). He was born in 1907 but apparently disappeared later in Saudi Arabia.      Hagop has also handed us the family history of the Elian clan, prepared by Michael Elian who is currently living in Beverly Hills. Michael has taken the trouble to write up some 9 pages for the project.      "This is the best that I can do - considering that I have been out of Jerusalem since 1949," he notes. "We still have the nucleus of the JABU (the Kaghakatsi social and cultural club) here and are trying to continue the tradition."      In compiling his list of clan nicknames, Hagop had the assistance of a worthy matriarch, Serpouhi Shahinian, mother of Ardashes Shahinian. In her 90's, Serpouhi sat down to jot painstakingly jot 7 pages of reminiscences, ending with this declaration: "I wrote all these at the age of 92, while in pain . . . sometimes the pen would slip from my fingers, and I would push back my ailments, determined to jot down what I know . . . Thank God that I have succeeded."     
  The Kankachian kaghakatsi Armenians of Jerusalem can now trace the ancestry of their clan back to the 1620's, to the days of King Hetoum!      According to Aida Kankachian, who is currently living in Canada, her ancestors are descended from the famous king's bloodline.      "They were warriors," she says, "and fought side by side with King Richard and the king of France against Saladin (Salah El Din el Ayyoubi) in a battle, but lost it."      In the wake of the defeat, they decided to journey to Jerusalem.      Aida is the daughter of the Armenian Quarter's leading carpenter, Kevork, who also was entrusted with the task of ringing the church bells at the Holy Sepulcher on Easter and at Christmas.      She is now working on a website that will outline the history of her family and the house they lived in.      "My ancestors were called the 'Honorables,' hence their surname, Badivian (those with honor)," she says.      Because the men and women were pretty, with blue eyes and blonde curly hair, they were constantly teased and called 'kunkoush' (beautiful).      Apparently, at one stage, one of the sons became upset with his uncle, and decided to change the family surname to "Kankachian," Aida reports
Hetoum’s bloodline live!
Colorful clans of the kaghakatsi
Turn page
Relations between the Israeli government and the Christian churches are governed by an protocol promulgated in the 19th Century during the Ottoman administration of the Holy Land.
This hallowed site has secured its place on the map of Christendom as the house of Mary, mother of John, called Mark, the Evangelist. The little church it shelters even boasts a portrait of the Virgin Mary reputedly painted by St Luke the evangelist. Only years after its erection, the church was destroyed by the Roman emperor, Titus when he conquered the city, only to rise phoenix like from its ashes, and to be rebuilt, over and over again, the last time a century and a half ago. For the Orthodox Syriac community, a tiny but vibrant element that has played a key role in the unravelling history of Jerusalem, this is the last remaining enclave left to their church which has lost everything else it owned in the city. Although the convent has been renovated and refurbished, it now houses only a mere handful of clergymen, their sharp decline paralleled by the attrition in the numbers of members of the Syriac community. There used to be a school, and a scout club, but the school is now a Jewish housing development and the club has been boarded up. But the survival instinct of the die-hard remnants of these proud descendants of the Babylonians and their grim determination to endure and to maintain their home and their standing in the Old City, has become markedly evident.