By Florence Avakian
NEW YORK — The anniversary of any event is noteworthy, but when it is an institution that envelops a whole community of people, then it is monumental. The 50th anniversary of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (eastern) is such a happening. And it will be celebrated in grand style on the weekend of Saturday, May 5, and Sunday May 6, with the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II presiding.
One of the memorable events of this momentous occasion will be a spectacular concert on the evening of May 5, in St. Vartan Cathedral, organized by pianist Sahan Arzruni, who was asked by the Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian to plan the event.
Arzruni recently reminisced, with memories flooding in of the building’s erection in the 1960s. “I remember the double-intersecting arches during the construction, as well as the pyramidal dome, consisting of the drum and the cone — two unique features distinct to Armenian church architecture,” he said.
St. Vartan Cathedral “is a replica of the seventh-century Saint Hripsime Church in Echmiadzin, named for St. Hripsime, one of the first martyrs of the Armenian Church, along with abbess Gayane and 35 other nuns,” he explained. “Hripsime was a Roman noble woman who fled to Armenia to escape the amorous advances of the Roman emperor, Diocletian.”
Especially beautiful, Hripsime was also pursued by Armenian King Drtad. When she refused her advances also, she was punished by being roasted alive, he said.