Swaziland Church Ownership Transferred to Echmiadzin


MBABAN, Swaziland (Armenpress) — On January 13, King Msvati III of Swaziland officially transferred the Holy Resurrection Armenian Chapel and the lands pertaining to the chapel to the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin.

The Diaspora Ministry of Armenia reported that a year ago, representatives of the local Armenian community submitted to King Msvati III of Swaziland a petition with the request to transfer the Holy Resurrection Church to the Holy See of Echmiadzin. A year later, the Armenian chapel of Swaziland truly became an Armenian chapel and one that will legally pertain to the Mother See from now on.

The Armenian Church in the distant African kingdom was constructed in 1989, thanks to Grigor Derbelyan. Derbelyan, citizen of Swaziland, was born in 1914 in Aintab. During the Armenian Genocide, his mother, with her 20-day-old son, reached her husband in Cairo by foot and died a few months later. Finishing his studies at the Armenian University of Cairo, for 12 years, Derbelyan worked in Khartum (Sudan) where there was quite a large Armenian community. Later, he settled in Swaziland where, according to him, he discovered a wonderful place called Pine Valley, which is not far from Mbaban, the capital of Swaziland. Seeing the place, Grigor decided that it is here where he wants to spend the rest of his life and die. In the center of Pine Valley, the landscape of which reminded him of Armenia, Grigor purchased an 11-acre plot, built a small Armenian chapel and planted 1,770 pine and fir trees. A small river flows aside the chapel.

Construction of the church was launched in 1985 and ended in 1989. About 60 people made contributions for construction of the chapel, including Olivetti Company, which hired Grigor for 12 years. The small church has two cupolas. Local construction materials were used to build the chapel. Interestingly, the part in the back of the chapel leans on a large stone that serves as an altar, like the Geghard Church in Armenia. Today, there is a small Armenian community of eight members in the small African Kingdom. The Armenians of the neighboring South African Republic help the Armenians of Swaziland care for the chapel and the lands pertaining to the chapel.

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