Cross Stolen from Armenian Church in Iraq Recovered by Armenian Austinites

After being stolen from a church in Iraq, an Armenian cross is in Austin until it can be sent back to its rightful owner, Time Warner Cable News reports.

If this cross could talk, it would have an amazing story to tell.

“Just its presence, the fact that this cross is here, it is life,” says Deacon Narek Garabedian.

It begins at an Armenian church in Baghdad. After being stolen from the church, the silver cross mysteriously made its way to a pawn shop in Florida.

A curious employee of that pawn shop asked a UT Austin linguistics professor to translate the inscription on the back.

That’s when the professor contacted Mihran Aroian.

“I had her email those photographs to me. As soon as I opened up the photographs, it was apparent that it was an Armenian cross,” Aroian says.

It wasn’t just any Armenian cross, though.

Garabedian just happened to be visiting from an Armenian church in New York.

“It clearly states that this was a gift from Serop Ohanian to the Armenian church of the Theotokos, or the Holy Virgin Mary, in 1945 of Baghdad, in Baghdad,” Garabedian says.

As fate would have it, it turns out Garabedian’s father is from Iraq and he recognized the name of the family in the inscription.

“That’s why I immediately contacted Mihran saying that this is a cross that needs to be recovered,” Garabedian explains.

Mihran called the pawn shop in Florida and asked them to ship it to Austin.

“I let her know that this in fact was an Armenian cross that was stolen from an Armenian church in Baghdad, and we would like to be able to obtain the cross back,” Aroian says.

It wasn’t a moment too soon; the pawn shop was about to send the cross to Austin anyways.

But because no one wanted to buy it, it was going to be melted and sold for its silver.

“This was God’s will that this cross be found and returned back to Baghdad,” Aroian says.

We still don’t know how the cross made its way from Iraq to the pawn shop in Florida.

Coincidentally, Saturday’s service at the local Armenian church was about lost sheep returning home.

“This cross—though it’s a small little silver item, has a huge meaning for the Armenian people, and we’re just very excited to have been a part of this,” says Aroian.

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