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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Food and TravelTravelThe Unique Benediction of Rev. Dr. Malkhasyan at St. Nicholas Shrine Church...

The Unique Benediction of Rev. Dr. Malkhasyan at St. Nicholas Shrine Church in Flushing

Catherine Tsounis
Catherine Tsounis
Contributing Editor The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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Rev. Dr. Abraham Malkhasyan, pastor of the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside, New York, participated in a Greek Orthodox service recently. Father Abraham has a unique operatic voice that touched all in his Armenian Benediction.
I experienced a moving moment when we traveled to Dadivank monastery in the  Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, before the devastating Azerbaijan war in October-November 2020. A charismatic priest, Father Abraham Malkhasyan, invited me to join his pilgrimage to Armenia recently with the Holy Martyrs Church under the leadership of President Aram Ciamician in coordination with the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR ).
“The Enthronement of St. Nicholas”, Dadivank monastery, Artsakh, before 2020 war.
In Artsakh, we traveled to Dadivank, a monastery of incredible beauty in a scenic gorge. It was being restored. Poor Kurds, struggling to exist, lived in it, destroying its mosaics through heating sources. This monastery’s restoration will rewrite our perception of Armenian Orthodox monasteries. The numerous monasteries we visited did not have mosaics or iconography as in Greece, Russia, or Italy.
Restoration of the 1214 fresco of St. Stephen was being conducted in the Katoghike Church that was used as stables during the communist regime. “The Enthronement of St. Nicholas” and the restoration of the St. Stephen frescoes are beautiful. Father Abraham had a religious service in Katoghike Cathedral. He chanted Armenian hymns, blessing the souls of all martyrs with traditional Armenian religious chanting.
Rev. Dr. Abraham Malkhasyan.
The St. Nicholas fresco in St. Mary Mother Church of Katoghike was explained in detail by a monastery sign. It was erected in the year 1214 by the Queen Arzou of Haterk. The interior walls of the Memorial Cathedral are richly decorated with frescoes. Part of a large inscription in Armenian, which covers the entire entrance wall of the Cathedral reads: “I, Arzou-Khatoun, obedient servant of Christ … wife of King Vakhtang, ruler of Haterk and all Upper Khachen, with great hopes built this holy cathedral on the place where my husband and sons rest in peace … My first-born Asan was martyred for his Christian faith in the war against the Turks, and, three years later, my younger son Grigor also joined Christ … Completed in the year 663 of the Armenian calendar.”
“The Enthronement of St. Nicholas” fresco amazed me. St. Nicholas was an exact replica of Byzantine icons, with fair features in religious Roman garments. Jesus is passing the bible to St. Nicholas. The Archangel Michael and Virgin Mary are seen watching the enthronement. Some fragments of the frescoes were painted in crimson red (vordan karmir) color. According to the inscription, they were made in 1297.1
“Warren Treadgold who wrote in “The Persistence of Byzantium,” in wilsonquarterly.com said “Ever since a population exchange in 1923 removed most of the Greeks from Turkey, few people have spoken Greek outside Greece and Cyprus. Yet a patriarch of Constantinople remains in Turkish Istanbul as head of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Eastern Orthodoxy remains the majority faith not only in Greece and Cyprus but in Russia, Bulgaria, former Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Belarus. Eastern Orthodox Christians remain significant minorities in Albania, Syria, and Lebanon–and in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Most Armenians and many Egyptians and Ethiopians remain Eastern Christians without formally belonging to Eastern Orthodoxy. All these groups have inherited much of their culture from Byzantium. It is people who are not Eastern Christians whom Byzantium still perplexes.”2
Father Abraham is celebrating his 10th Anniversary of ministry at Holy Martyrs Apostolic Church. We experienced his unique Armenian chanting in a Greek Orthodox church. As Eastern Orthodox Christians of all nationalities and races, we have a common bond rooted in the Greek-Roman Byzantine civilization.

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