HG Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, Primate of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom, led a group of international journalists, diaspora Armenians, local clergy and members of Tufenkian Foundation to Artsakh and conducted a moving and poignant prayer service at St Minas church and Tsitsernavank basilica in Northern Kashatagh region of Artsakh before the Kashatagh region is handed over to Azerbaijan.
During his speech His Grace emphasised with firm conviction that this would not be the last liturgy conducted at St Minas church and read letters written by children from his diocese who stated their hopes to come and pray in St. Minas at some time again in the future.
The St. Minas Church was restored in 2009 by the Tufenkian Foundation through a generous donation from Virginia Davies of New York. She shared the following statement: “We cannot allow this to happen. The world cannot allow the erasing of our memory, our history, our culture, our identity. We need to multiply our efforts so that these historic monuments are not eradicated from the face of the earth, the way it happened more than a hundred years ago, during the days of the Armenian Genocide,”
The Kashatagh region is a centre point for Armenians around the world. As a result of the ceasefire agreement reached on 9 November 2020, the Kashatagh region of the Republic of Artsakh is being transferred to Azerbaijan’s control.
Taking into consideration of Azerbaijan’s long record of demolishing and destroying Armenian cultural and religious heritage sites, there is a great concern from the international community that these important sites are at extreme risk. Above all their inherent, artistic and architectural value, these heritage sites have continued to play an active role as religious centres for the local community and other Christians from around the world. Please click here to listen to the radio programme about the services in the St. Minas and St. George Churches.