On the evening of Tuesday, December 8, 2015, the Prelacy family gathered at Holy Martyrs Church in Encino for a rare and poignant ceremony of blessing of relics of Armenian Genocide martyrs brought from Der Zor and consecration of reliquaries in which the relics will be stored and displayed in Prelacy Churches. H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, presided over the ceremony, in which clergy members participated. In attendance was Central Executive member Mr. Khajag Dikijian, Executive Council members, members of parishes’ Delegates, Board of Trustees, Ladies Guilds, Choirs, Sunday Schools, and faithful.
The ceremony began with the procession of the Prelate and clergy into the Church. Joining them was Mr. Osko Karaghossian, who alongside his wife Yeran sponsored the reliquaries. The ceremony was comprised of prayers and hymns. The Prelate read the narrative of the martyrdom of Armenian Genocide victims from the canonization ceremony, which recounts the Christian path of the Armenian people through the centuries until martyrdom during the Genocide, and beseeches the Lord to grant the children of our nation the will to continue the legacy of faith and national identity forged by our foregathers.
The relics were then blessed with prayer and censing as they were carried in a procession through the church and to the altar. Clergy members thereafter washed the cross-shaped reliquaries with wine and water, after which the Prelate conducted the consecration with Holy Muron. At the conclusion of the ceremony, His Eminence blessed the sponsor family and delivered his message.
Citing from the prayer offered during the consecration of the reliquaries, the Prelate beseeched the Lord to bless the crosses as protector and shield of the faithful. His Eminence thanked God for granting the opportunity to collectively participate in the once in a lifetime ceremony, to witness the symbolic raising of our martyrs from the deserts of Der Zor up to the altar, and noted that when the canonization took place in April, it was his wish to have the relics of our martyrs in our Churches as well, to be displayed for our faithful to seek their intercession. Holy Martyrs Church was chosen as it was established and dedicated in memory of our martyrs, he said, and stated that the reliquaries will be presented to the Pastors and Boards of Trustees Chairs during the annual New Year and Christmas Dinner on January 6 at Holy Cross Cathedral “Bagramian” Hall in Montebello.
Speaking of the canonization, the Prelate stressed that it was not merely a ceremony, rather an enduring invitation for the living generations to model their lives after that of our martyrs, to be inspired by their faith and example, and to strengthen our commitment to continuing their legacy.
The Prelate commended and blessed Mr. and Mrs. Osko and Yeran Karaghossian for their generous sponsorship of the reliquaries, and also for sponsoring the construction of an Armenian Genocide Centennial courtyard on the Prelacy grounds where models of the monuments of Dzidzernagapert and Bikfaya will be built.
His Eminence invited the faithful to approach the crosses at the conclusion of the ceremony and receive the blessing of the Holy Muron. At the threshold of the New Year and Christmas, he wished for the spiritually moving ceremony to prepare our hearts to welcome the Baby Jesus and for the Christmas tidings of peace, harmony, and humility to fill our souls.
Finally, the Prelate presented to the Mr. and Mrs. Karaghossian the Pontifical Encyclical of His Holiness Aram I bestowing the “Prince of Cilicia” insignia (given during the Pontifical Visit of 2011), and announced that all in attendance would receive a prayer card with the illustration of the icon of the canonized martyrs, also sponsored by the Karaghossian family.
The ceremony came to a close with the Lord’s Prayer and Cilicia. A reception followed at “Avedissian” Hall.