Mets Aragyal – Surb Khach (Holy Cross) church

4 didi aragiali- surb xachis eklesiaEstablishment of the church: The village of Mets Aragyal is located 8 km north-east of Ninotsminda. Surb Khach church in the village was established in the 1930s. The name of the church is mentioned in the bulletin of Georgia and Imeretian Dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic Church (1839-1840). Harutyun Ter-Hovhannisyan and Arakel Danielyan are mentioned as tbirs (clerk) [1]. During those years, the number of the church parishioners was 149 [2]. In the 1860s, the church was mentioned as a wooden building [3], and in the 1880s it was mentioned as a structure built of stone with wooden roof, as were the Diocesan churches in a number of villages [4]. At the beginning of the 20th century, the annual income of the church was 41 rubles and 34 kopeks in silver [5].

3 M.aragyalIn the village of Mets Aragyal, the remains of a ruined church known as ''Tseruni'' (''Elder'', 13th – 14th centuries) have been preserved [6].

Architecture: Surb Khach church is built of stone, it stands on 3 columns and has a wooden roof. It is built of tuf (a type of stone), except for the northern wall, which is built of hewn stone. The church is a two-domed, majestic building. The external dimensions are 13,61 x 9,15 m. There are traces of repairs on the southern front [7].

Parish priests: In accordance with the church registers, Rev. Father Stepanos Ter-Stepanosyan [8] and Rev. Father Barsegh Ter-Hovhannisyan [9] were priests of Surb Khach church in Mets Aragyal village.

School: In accordance with the school bulletin (1869) of Georgian and Imeretian dioceses, the 2 Didi Aragiali Surb Xachchurch parish school, as the other schools of the villages in the region, was opened in 1864 with the means of local residents. As of 1869, it had 22 students, and 1 teacher [10]. Melkon Manukyan is mentioned as a teacher in the 1870s [11].

Reconstruction and reconsecration of the church: The church was reconstructed in 2014-2015. On October 12, 2015, the renovated Surb Khach church built in 1830, opened its doors for the faithful with its improved courtyard and surrounding area. The church was completely rebuilt thanks to benefactors Arthur and Aida Isoyans. The church was reconstructed with the design of architect Azat Mghdesyan and designer Armen Ghulasyan, 1 Didi Aragiali Surb Xachsculptor Gevorg Mnatsakanyan.  The Opening of the Door (Drnbatsek) Service was offered by the Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, His Grace Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan in the newly renovated church. The next day, October 13, under the presidency of the Diocesan Primate and with the participation of the Prelate of Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tsalka's General Prelacy Rev. Father Archimandrite Babgen Salbiyan and clergymen, the reconsecration ceremony of the ancient Surb Khach church took place. Rev. Father Armash Poghosyan, the Pastor of Saint Sarkis church in Ninotsminda celebrated Divine Liturgy in Surb Khach church [12].

Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia

Armenian Historical and Cultural Heritage Research Center in Georgia

[1] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 457, թ. 58.

[2] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 3800, թ. 4.

[3] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 3848, թ. 74.

[4] ''Ardzaganq'', 1885, N 3, էջ 41.

[5] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 3912, part 1, թ. 112-ի շրջ.-113.

[6] S. Karapetyan, Javakhk, Yerevan, 2006, p. 371.

[7] S. Karapetyan, in the same place.

[8] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 2, գ. 813, թ. 2.

[9] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 2, գ. 810, թ. 2; գ. 840, թ. 2.

[10] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 3977, թ. 54-ի շրջ.-55.

[11] NAA, ֆ. 56, ց. 15, գ. 52, թ. 43-ի շրջ.-44.

[12] http://armenianchurch.ge/hy/lurer?start=435. Press Department of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia .

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