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Canonization of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide: Message of His Holiness Karekin II

Message of His Holiness Karekin II,
Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians
On The Occasion of the Canonization
of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide

 Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, April 23, 2015

“If you are reviled for the name of Christ,

you are blessed, because…

the Spirit of God is resting on you.”

1 Peter 4:14

Dear and pious faithful brothers and sisters,

Under the gaze of biblical Ararat, in this cherished holy shrine of the Christ-built Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, today with unified prayer we offer glory up to our Omnipotent God for all of His gifts.  We praise the Heavenly One, Who gave strength to our nation to overcome centuries of historical trials, to rise up from the horrors of the Armenian Genocide, and to create the victories and accomplishments of their new life.  We glorify the Lord, that the witnesses martyred in the Genocide for faith and homeland, are crowned with sainthood, and through their intercession, His endless mercies flow into our lives

During the dire years of the Genocide of the Armenians, millions of our people were uprooted and massacred in a premeditated manner, passed through fire and sword, tasted the bitter fruits of torture and sorrow.  Nevertheless, in the midst of horrid torments and facing death, remained strengthened by the love of Christ, bringing the witness of unshakeable faith, in accord with the apostolic words, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because… the Spirit of God is resting on you.” (1 Peter 4:14.)

Witnessing to Christ through martyrdom is intertwined with the life of our people.  Manifold testimonies of holiness, virtue, and the joys of spiritual selflessness are recorded as well in the tragic annals of the Armenian Genocide.  The Armenian who was persecuted for his Christian faith traveled the path of martyrdom with prayer as his companion; while the one who persecuted him with unceasing atrocity assumed that he was finally cutting off the roots of the love for Christ from the life of the Armenian.  The blood of the Armenian martyred for Christ, has placed the seal of unshakeable faith and patriotism on the sands of the desert, while the committer of genocide assumed that the Armenian was being lost forever in the gales of history.  It is with that same spirit of devotion to Christ and love of patrimony that our people have re-created their spiritual and national life in all corners of the world, found rebirth in Eastern Armenia, under the canopy of their state which has risen from the ashes.  Our people have created their path to ascent through sacrifice, struggle, efforts to voice their righteous case before the conscience and rights of humanity, and always remembering in prayer the countless witnesses of the Armenian Genocide.

The history of martyrdom is not merely a litany of facts or events; rather it is the truth of faith that appears before us, against which tortures and crimes, as well as political deceits and machinations are powerless.  Martyrdom ties human life and history to a more powerful heavenly reality, which transcends time and propagates toward eternity, as per the Lord’s promise, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  …Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10.)  Our martyrs who witnessed Christ direct the gaze of our souls upward from earthly realities to heavenly life, granting spiritual happiness to we who seek their intercession, and encouraging us to rely on the Lord, to not cower before trials, and to live the God-granted life through works of faith, hope and love.  The martyrs of the Genocide today, in the luminous chambers of the kingdom of heaven, bearing the crowns of martyrdom, are the patron saints of justice, philanthropy and peace; whose intercession from heaven opens the source of God’s mercy and graces wherever justice is weakened, the tranquility and security of peace is disturbed, where human rights and the rights of people are trampled, threats arise against the welfare of societies, and persecutions against faith and identity are fanaticized.

Dear and pious faithful,

All of us today are witnesses to the spiritual transfiguration of our history, in which we participate both collectively and as individuals.  The canonization of the martyrs of the Genocide brings life-giving new breath, grace and blessing to our national and ecclesiastical life.  We believe that we are weaving the crown of a new spiritual rebirth for our people, by canonizing the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.  The memory of our holy martyrs will heretofore not be a requiem prayer of victimhood and dormition, rather a victorious song of praise by incorporeal soldiers, triumphant and sanctified by the blood of martyrdom.  Today the devout spirit of love ‘of faith and homeland’ of our holy martyrs extends from Der Zor to Holy Etchmiadzin and Tsitsernakaberd, from newly-independent Armenia to the reborn fields of Armenian life dispersed throughout the world, by strengthening us to live with unshakeable faith, the bright vision of the renaissance of our life, and the unquestionable will to defend our righteous cause.

Today, in all corners of the world, the prayers of our people are interwoven with the prayers of this sacred service we offer, to which the President of the Republic of Armenia and the First Lady; our spiritual brother, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; our beloved brothers in Christ – heads and representatives of our sister Churches; honored representatives of Armenian Catholic and Evangelical Churches; state officials of the Armenians and friendly nations; and representatives of diplomatic missions and international organizations, all bring their participation.

With the inaugural supplication for the intercession of our holy martyrs of the Genocide, we offer today our prayer up to God in heaven, asking,

To peacefully keep our people and all of mankind under His blessings,

To quench the thirst for justice in our people’s soul,

For the rays of justice and truth to shine over the world through divine mercy, and disperse the darkness of crimes and calamities that disrupt the life of humanity, and for mankind to create its prosperous and joyful life in brotherhood and harmony

Through the intercession of the holy martyrs, may the grace, love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and with all, today and forever. Amen.

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