Annual Pilgrimage, Mass at Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar Canceled


ISTANBUL (PanARMENIAN.Net) —The annual liturgy at the Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van has been cancelled, the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul reports.

“The pilgrimage to Akhtamar planned for September 6 has been cancelled,” the Patriarchate said in a statement.

The decision was made, considering the terrorist acts committed over the past day. “The liturgy has been postponed to avoid creating security problems in Van and the surrounding areas,” the Patriarchate added.

“Considering the rise of terrorist attacks and deaths in the region in recent days…the Patriarchate has decided to postpone the pilgrimage to a later date,” the statement reads.

The Holy Cross Church underwent a restoration between May 2005 and October 2006, with a stated budget of 2 million Turkish lira (about $1.4 million), financed by Turkey’s Ministry of Culture. The church officially reopened as a museum in March 2007 in a ceremony attended by the Turkish Minister of Culture, government officials, Patriarch Mesrob II, a delegation from Armenia, and a group of journalists from news organizations around the world.

The first Mass at the church was allowed to take place on September 19, 2010. Despite the lack of official numbers from that day, Turkish newspapers estimated the presence of up to 5,000 people. Thousands of pilgrims from Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora were expected to attend the ceremony this year, as it is the centennial of the Armenian Genocide.

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