Surb Hovhannes (St. Hovhannes)-Karapet Church of Kartsakh

2.2Founded in the 1830s

Church foundation and renovation: The village of Kartsakhi of Akhalkalaki region is one of the oldest Armenian-populated villages. Surb Hovhannes-Karapet Church of the village was founded in the 1930s. The church is mentioned in the Bulletin of the clergy and churches of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia and the Imeretian Diocese of 1839-1840.[1]

In the 1860s the villagers planned to renovate the old church and then fence it.[2] However, the old church was small and was not sufficient for the populous Kartsah, so in the 1880s they decided to build a new church.[3] According to the preserved construction protocol, the construction of the church was completed in 1894,[4] according to another data it was completed in 1896.[5] According to the latter, the reason for the suspension of the construction was the lack of funds. Apparently, the construction of the church was completed in 1896 with the construction of the bell tower. Bagrat Alibekyan from Tbilisi donated the bells.[6] In the 1880-1896s some Armenian merchants from Tiflis participated in the construction of the magnificent building with basilica bell tower, built on the site of the former church.[7]

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Architecture: The church is built of black basalt and belongs to the basilica type. The external dimensions of the church are 23.75x13.25m .[8] It has two entrances - from the southern and western sides. There is an Armenian inscription on the western entrance, above which there is a cross-shaped sculpture made of red tuff. There are decorative arches on the facades with arched windows on the walls. On the western wall, on the upper left and right sides, there are round niches. The bell tower is built on the western facade. The gable roof is tiled with tuff tiles. The interior walls are not worked at. The hall is divided into three naves with arched columns. The Holy Altar is located on the eastern part of the building, with its chapels on the right and left sides. The baptismal font is located on the northern wall.[9] On the western façade of the entrance, at the bottom of the bell tower, there are some construction records, which were first published by S.Karapetyan .[10]

Parish priests: Among the priests of Surb Hovhannes-Karapet Church were Father Elijah Ter-Hovhannisyan,[11] Father Hovhannes Ter-Grigoryan,[12] Father Hakob Mikaelyants,[13] Father Martiros Ter-Martirosyants.[14] They all priested in the 1860-1880s.

School: The earliest information about the school of the village of Kartsakh relates to 1837,[15] but according to another report of the schools bulletin of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia and Imeretian Diocese of 1869, the village school was founded in 1864 by means of the village community. It is worth mentioning that in the 1860s, the villagers of Kartsakh intended to open a school and applied to the consortium with this issue.[16] As of 1869, the school had 56 students and 2 teachers.[17]

Church re-consecration: In July 2012, on the traditional Honor Day of the great Jivani (Serob Stepani Levonyan), Surb Hovhannes-Karapet Church of Kartsakh was re-consecrated by the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Georgia, His Grace Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan and the Prelate of the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tsalka's General Prelacy, Father Babken Salbiyan and with the participation of clergy . The sacred ceremony of the church started on the evening of July 13, with the Opening of the Doors Service (Drnbatsek) . The 16 columns, the Holy Altar, the baptismal font and the icons of the church were re-consecrated.[18]

The church was renovated with the financial support of a group of benefactors from Kartsakh by origin.

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. 53-ի շրջ

[2] NAA, ֆ. 56, ց. 1, գ. 4152, թ. 1 և շրջ.

[3] “Nar-Dos”, 1891, N 150, p. 3

[4] S. Karapetyan, Javakhk,Yerevan,2006,p.285

[5] “Nar-Dos”,1896, N 180, p. 3

[6] “Nar-Dos”,1896, N 180, p. 4

[7] http://armenianchurch.ge/hy/news/34-news/274-karcax, Press office of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.

[8] S.Karapetyan, in the same place

[9] Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia,Armenian Historical and Cultural Heritage Research Center in Georgia

[10] S.Karapetyan, in the same place, p.286

[11] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 457, in the same place

[12] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 2, գ. 3214, թ. 2; գ. 3226, թ.2

[13] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 2, գ. 3237, թ. 3:

[14] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 2, գ. 3245. թ. 3

[15] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 3931, թ. 69

[16] NAA, ֆ. 56, ց. 1, գ. 4152, in the same place

[17] NAA, ֆ. 53, ց. 1, գ. 3977, թ. 53-իշրջ.-54

[18] http://armenianchurch.ge/hy/news/34-news/274-karcax, Press office of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.

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