Armenian church in India marks 300 years of service

The small group of Armenians of the Indian city of Chennai will have more reason to rejoice on Christmas for the ancient St. Mary’s Armenian Church has completed 300 years of ser­­vice to the community, the Deccan Chronicle reports.

Built in 1772, at the site of the Armenian cemetery where 350 graves are laid, the church, also known as Armenian Church of Vir­gin Mary, lends its name to the street at Parrys Corner. It houses a magnificent belfry – 6 bells, said to be the largest bells in Chennai.

The tercentenary was celebrated on December 18 with Rev. Fr. Geghart con­ducting the Divine Liturgy followed by a requiem service. Armenians of Chen­nai were famous for their printing press and charitable works.

It was in Madras that Azdarar, the first ever Armenian journal, was printed and distributed by Rev. Harutiun Shmavonian in 1794. Though Armenians of Chennai were known to be famous for precious stone, silk and spice merchants, there are hardly any Armenians in the city now.

Former caretaker of the church, Michael Step­hen, said, “I was happy to attend the service thanks to Fr. Khoren. This is Arme­nian heritage and we have to preserve this at any cost. God bless Indian Armenians.”

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