Fr. Shnorhk Sargsyan, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Cardinal Jose Cobo during the ceremony of the khachkar in front of Almudend Cathedral, Madrid

Khachkar (Cross Stone) Consecrated in Front of Almudend Cathedral of Madrid

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MADRID — During the Feast of Pentecost, on Sunday, May 19, an Armenian khachkar (a cross stone) was blessed and consecrated in front of Almudend Cathedral of Madrid by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian – Pontifical Legate of Western Europe and the Representative of the Armenian Church to the Holy See – along with Cardinal Jose Cobo Cano of Madrid. Also assisting was Father Shnorhk Sargsyan, Vicar of the Pontifical Legate in Spain and Portugal.  Others present included Ambassador of Armenia Sos Avedisyan, the deputy mayor of Madrid, and members of the Armenian community.

Fr. Shnorhk Sargsyan chants a prayer in front of the new khachkar in Madrid with Cardinal Jose Cobo at far left

The khachkar, brought from Armenia as a gift of the Armenian community of Spain to the Cathedral of Madrid, represents its gratitude to Spain and its Catholic Church.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Cardinal Jose Cobo during the ceremony of the blessing of the new khachkar in Madrid, Spain

After the blessing of the khachkar, the celebration of Pentecost Liturgy took place in the cathedral, presided over by the cardinal of Madrid.

Armenian and Catholic clergy in front of the new khachkar

Cardinal Jose, at the beginning of his sermon, expressed his welcome to Archbishop Khajag and to Father Shnork saying: “We embrace the entire Armenian community with whom we have gathered, with the gesture of the cross, and with thanks to the Ambassadors, the diplomatic corps, and Mr. Borja Fanjul – who accompanies us in this mass from the Madrid City Council – and has also done so during the blessing of the Armenia cross stone.  Like any cross, the one being blessed today is a sign of peace and unity, so that we may be prepared to embrace our diversities, while thanking the Armenians for their resilience and bravery over the centuries in carrying the cross of the Lord.”

Inside Almudend Cathedral of Madrid during the celebration of Pentecost Liturgy

At the conclusion of the celebration of the mass, Archbishop Khajag conveyed the greetings of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and expressed his thanks for the cardinal’s warm welcome. He continued: “Amidst the rugged landscapes and ancient monasteries of Armenia, one finds the khachkar, or cross-stone, as a enduring symbol of Armenian culture.  Carved from solid stone, these monuments serve as more than just markers of time.  They are profound expressions of faith, heritage, and artistry.  The tradition of crafting khachkars dates back over a millennium – with the earliest known examples being traced to the 9th century.  At the heart of every khachkar lies the cross – its most striking feature.

“From the early days of Christianity, the cross has stood as a timeless symbol for both Catholic and Armenian churches – a perpetual symbol of our Christian faith which embodies love, sacrifice, and redemption.

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The khachkar in front of this cathedral is a beautiful symbolizes the unity of our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and represents the very close relationship between the Catholic and the Armenian churches.”

The earliest contacts between Armenians and Spain date back potentially to the medieval period.  During the time of the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries, Armenian knights and merchants traveled throughout Europe, establishing connections that would lay the groundwork for future interactions.  The Kingdom of Cilicia, for instance, had diplomatic and trade relations with various European states including in the Iberian Peninsula.

In medieval Spain, Armenian merchants were known to trade silk, spices, and other goods. Some even settled in cities like Barcelona, Cadiz, and Seville. During the Renaissance, Armenians in Spain were known for their craftsmanship – particularly in the field of jewelry making and textiles.  Armenian merchants also played a significant role in establishing trade routes that connected Europe with the Middle East and Asia.

The latter half of the 20th century saw a revival of the Armenian community in Spain. Presently, Armenians in Spain number around 40,000. Recently an Armenian Church was consecrated in Malaga. However, parishes of the Armenian Church exist in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Arnedo, and Seville. Today in Spain, Armenians are engaged in various professions, from academia and medicine to business and the arts.

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