Armenian Surp Giragos Church ready for Holy Mass
By Roni Alasor and Anahit Khatchikian – 18 October, Brussels - The Armenian Church Surp Giragos in Dikranagerd (Diyarbakir), which was one of the biggest and important Armenian churches in Middle East, now is ready to be reopened after a century of tragic silence. Many hundred Armenians from all over the world are expected to attend the Holy Mass in Diyarbakir on 23rd October.
Archbishop Aram Ateshian
Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Patriarch of the Armenians in Turkey, told Ararat News - Publishing in an exclusive interview that all the organizational arrangements for the Mass are concluded and now they are waiting for the historical day of the opening. “There is huge interest from Armenians from Middle East, Europe and North America to be part of this very symbolic event. We are working very hard for this important day and we welcome all Armenians, especially those from Diyarbakir to be with us!”
Surp Giragos Church before and after the restoration
The official inauguration of Surp Giragos Church will be on 22nd October with a reception and dinner followed by Sunday Holy Mass on 23rd October and a concert with Armenian groups from Istanbul and Armenia, as well as local Kurdish and Turkish songs. The Kurdish Municipality in Diyarbakir is also ready to help with all the practical arrangements to host the event.
Surp Giragos Church before the Genocide
According the historians, Surp Giragos Dikranagerd church, dating from 15th century, with its seven altars andseveral different buildings, was partially destroyed in 1915-1916 during the Genocide and left in ruins for nearly hundred years. The church was given back to the Armenian community in Diyarbakir in devastated condition in 1960, when some thousand Armenians were still living in the city and its surroundings. According Archbishop Ateshian, the condition of the church deteriorated in the 1970s – 1980s when nearly all Armenians left Diyarbakir.
Some years ago, the Armenian community in Turkey made an action plan with the cooperation of the Kurdish Municipality in Diyarbakir (Diyarbakir Buyuk Sehir Belediyesi) to restore the church. The Armenian Diaspora, especially in North America, also supported financially part of the restoration with fund raising events. The Kurdish Municipality in Diyarbakir gave 600 000 US dollars for the rebuilding.
Need for financial support to complete the church
However Archbishop Ateshian says that some more money is necessary for the finishing touches. Some parts of the church are still not completed and there is a need for support from the Diaspora. Archbishop Ateshian hopes that in the near future rich Armenians and the Armenian communities in Europe, especially in France could support them with fund raising events.