“The Cross-Stone Project” at Canterbury Cathedral

On Sunday 26th June 2022, the Primate, His Grace Bishop Hovakim, attended the screening of “The Cross-Stone Project” at Canterbury Cathedral, which documented the sculpting of the first ever Armenian Khachkar (cross-stone) to be created in the United Kingdom.  Attending the screening were the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin MBE QHC, the Lord Mayor and Lord Mayor Consort of Canterbury Councillor Anne Dekker and Mr Ken Dekker, clergy and officials at the Cathedral as well as members of the local community. The Primate was accompanied to Canterbury by Deacon Nairi Afrikyan and Mr Vahan Krikorian.

The evening commenced with an introduction by the host, Brigadier John Meardon Royal Marines (ret’d), the former Receiver General of Canterbury Cathedral and one of the co-sculptors of the Cross Stone. In his speech, Brigadier Meardon provided background into the project to create the Khachkar and explained that, but for the Coronavirus pandemic, the film was to have been screened after the installation of the Cross-Stone. In March 2019, the Khachkar was unveiled in the Memorial Garden of Canterbury Cathedral, where it was consecrated by Bishop Hovakim as a permanent memorial to the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide; the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral and the Armenian Ambassador to the United Kingdom attended the consecration, as well as a large number of the Armenian community. In addition, a special service took place at the graveside of His Grace Archbishop Randall Davidson, who had been Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of the genocide and who had done much to advocate for the Armenians at the highest levels of the British Government. Mr Vartan Moscofian, the other co-sculptor, also spoke talking about the process in creating the Khachkar and its significance to the Armenian community.

Invited to address the audience upon the film ending, Bishop Hovakim reflected that the Khachkar, as well as being one of the defining symbols of the Armenian Church and Armenian Christianity, was also a monument to the genocide; this was all the more pertinent given that since the Nagorno-Karabakh war of 2020, when a new genocide of Armenians had been attempted, many Khachkars were being destroyed in an act of cultural vandalism in historically Armenian lands that were currently being held under occupation. Bishop Hovakim concluded his remarks by offering prayers to all those peoples who were being persecuted.