On the fourth Saturday of the Great Lent, the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church commemorates the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.
On March 26, 2022, during the Morning and Evening Service in the Cathedral of Saint George and Saint Etchmiadzin church, candles decorated with flowers were lit in the memory of 40 Sebastian Martyrs, who were from different cities of Lesser Armenia and were involved in military service in the imperial regiment of the Sebastia city and were martyred in the early 4th century. The altar decorated with 40 candles during the Service was symbolizing the faithfulness to Christian faith and martyrdom of Holy Forty Martyrs, which was seen with the bright crowns. One candle was left without flowers. It was the candle of a martyr, who could not withstand suffering, and the candle symbolized his loss of earthly and heavenly life.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Rev. Father Virap Ghazaryan in the Cathedral of Saint George and Rev. Father Samvel Torosyan in Saint Etchmiadzin church properly preached about the mystery of the day and encouraged those present, to follow the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and to remain faithful to the faith of Christ despite all the hardships of life, to live in love, to be kind and ready for sacrifice, to overcome temptations and live in order to deserve the Kingdom of Heaven.
Afterwards deacons read the story of 40 Sebastian Martyrs.
At the end of the Liturgy, the spiritual fathers traditionally consecrated vegetable oil, which the faithful took home.
The 40 martyrs' relics are kept in Sebaste where a church consisting of forty domes dedicated to the Forty Holy Martyrs was built later and was standing until Timur Lang's invasion.
It is the Great Lent period in accordance with the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church Calendar. On March 23, 2022, Great Lent was divided into two parts because it was the 24th day. It is called Mijink, the Median Day of Great Lent. This church feast is celebrated with a number of folk traditions and customs, for instance, baking bagharj (sweet unleavened cake) or gata (Armenian pastry).
Under the leadership of spiritual pastors, the churches of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, prepared to properly celebrate the church feast with folk celebration.
Peace Service and Requiem Service were offered with the participation of clergy and deacons in the Cathedral of Saint George in Tbilisi and Saint Etchmiadzin church in Avlabari.
The Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan offered his blessings to those present, and Rev. Father Samvel Torosyan touched upon the mystery of the day. Rev. Father wished the faithful to pass the second half of the Great Lent period with love and faith, which will last until the Glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which this year will be celebrated on April 17 in accordance with the church calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church.
The folk tradition to celebrate Mijink with bagharj or gata has turned the feast into Armenian Gata Festival among the Armenians from Georgia. Various types of gata, baked on the occasion of the feast, were on the tables, and after blessings, the members of “Hayartun” Center and “Nerses the Gracious” (“Nerses Shnorhali”) Choir gave gatas to the people. Some of those present get a beautiful surprise - blessed crosses by the godfathers of churches.
Mijink was solemnly celebrated with Gata Festival in the main Holy Cross (Surb Khach) church of the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tsalka's General Prelacy in Akhalkalaki and nearby villages; Saint Gregory Illuminator (Surb Grigor Lusavorich) church in Akhaltsikhe; Saint Sarkis church in Ninotsminda; Saint Savior (Surb Prkich) church in Batumi; Armenian churches of villages of Tsalka and Aspindza, Kvemo Kartli regions, as well as Saint Gregory of Narek spiritual, educational, cultural, and youth center in Rustavi city. The participants were informed about the mystery of the day, tested blessed gatas, which became an evidence for passing the second half of Great Lent and to celebrate Easter with Christian Love.
The clergy of the churches expressed their gratitude to godfathers of cross of the year for their support to the celebration of the Mijink feast.
On March 3, 2022, the 180th anniversary of the famous Armenian entrepreneur and philanthropist, one of the richest men of his era, who had the ‘’king of oil’’ nickname Alexander Mantashyants was celebrated.
The courtyard of Saint Etchmiadzin church of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, where the symbolic tombstone of the great benefactor is and the bust the devotee of patriotism is erected, was crowded.
In anniversary celebration of the worthy son of the nation, great patriot, devoted philanthropist Alexander Mantashyants, with the blessings of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan, under the leadership of Rev. Father Samvel Torosyan, with the participation of clergy and deacons, a Requiem Service was offered for the peace of the great benefactor’s soul.
Rev. Father Samvel touched upon Mantashyants’s life and activity, reminded of the great deeds carried out by the great sponsor dictated to him by his heart and wise foresight. Guided by the importance of education, enlightenment and cultural development, the great philanthropist ensured education and progress of gifted youth, thus paving the way for the country’s development, prosperity and progress. With the dictates of his heart, Alexander Mantashyants lived sowing seeds of kindness and spreading charity.
Those present censed and prayed, afterwards laid flowers on the pedestal of Alexander Mantashyants’s bust, paying tribute to the memory of Alexander Mantashyants, the man who symbolizes charity and humanity, proud of whom are not only Armenians from Georgia, but also from all over the world.
On January 6, 2022, Armenian Apostolic Holy Church continued to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Feast was properly celebrated in the churches of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia.
Festive mood prevailed in the Cathedral of Saint George and Saint Etchmiadzin church in Tbilisi crowded with faithful. The Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Saint George.
President of Georgia, H. E. Mrs. Salome Zourabishvili, State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Tea Akhvlediani, Chairman of the State Agency for Religious Issues Zaza Vashakmadze, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia to Georgia Ruben Sadoyan, diplomats from RA Embassy, statesmen, public figures, heads of community organizations, faithful came to congratulate Armenian faithful on the occasion of the Holy Feast.
During the Divine Liturgy, the Diocesan Primate read the message of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians on the occasion of the Feast of Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Blessings of Waters Service was offered under the presidency of the Diocesan Primate. Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan expressed his appreciation to the Armenian faithful and devoted Christian Yuri Yeremyan and his family who fulfilled his duties as the Godfather of Cross of the Cathedral of Saint George with love and great willingness for many years. Rev. Father handed over a letter of blessing to Yuri Yeremyan and his family.
In 2022, faithful Christian Artak Avetisyan became the Godfather of Cross of the Cathedral of Saint George and other faithful Christian Samvel Poghsoyan became the Godfather of Cross of Saint Etchmiadzin church in Avlabari.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Diocesan Primate congratulated those present on the occasion of the New Year and Christmas and thanked the representatives of the state and government for their presence. Rev. Father highly appreciated the millennial brotherly relations between the two people of the same religion and culture and the friendship between the Armenian and Georgian churches. The celebrant Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan congratulated the Georgian Orthodox Church and high-ranking Georgian guests on the upcoming Christmas.
The celebration of the Feast of Holy Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ at the Armenian Diocese in Georgia was covered by various Georgian media.
Despite the fact that 33 years have passed, Armenians worldwide continue to pay their tribute to the memory of the victims of the devastating Spitak earthquake in the Republic of Armenia. On December 7, 2021, a Requiem Service was offered in the churches of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia in memory of the lost families and innocent people who became the innocent victims of the catastrophic and deadly moments of the natural disaster.
A requiem Service was offered under the presidency of the Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan at the Cathedral of Saint George (Surb Gevorg). In attendance were representatives of the Armenian community in Tbilisi.
At the end of the ceremony, the Diocesan Primate addressed those present. He touched upon the days of the catastrophic disaster and mentioned that even though more than three decades have passed, the consequences of the devastating earthquake are still noticeable in the Republic of Armenia. Unfortunately, there are still families who continue to live in wooden shelters in conditions of poorness and cold. Rev. Father encouraged those present to be united, to support each other and to fight for the strengthening of the country. ''That is the only way for the survival and eternity of our people who have passed through many disasters and have a cruel fate'', Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan concluded his speech.
Although time heals wounds, today Armenians lit candles in memory of the earthquake victims and prayed asking for peace for the souls of the innocent victims.
On December 7, 1988, a devastating earthquake happened in the northern regions of the Republic of Armenia. The intensity at the epicenter was 10 magnitudes. The earthquake covered about 40% of the RA territory, where 1 million people lived. 21 cities and regions, 342 villages were affected. 514 thousand people became homeless. About 20,000 people were injured to varying degrees. 17% of the entire RA housing stock was destroyed, 170 industrial enterprises ceased operating, great damage was caused to the villages, agro-industrial complex, as well as architectural, historical and art monuments, 917 centers of public education were damaged.
The year is jubilee; the art loving society celebrates the 150th anniversary of Alexander Spendiaryan, the RA People's Artist, founder of Armenian classical symphonic music, pedagogue and public figure, conductor, and composer. The commemorative anniversary, also by the request of Georgia, was included in the agenda of UNESCO holiday programs, gaining international resonance.
Taking into consideration the fact that this year also marks the 105th anniversary of Spendiaryan's first visit to Tbilisi, the day gained the meaning of double celebration. The visit of the famous composer, his acquaintance and friendship with prominent figures of Georgian classical music, including the founder of Georgian classical music Zakaria Paliashvili, deepened over the years becoming a creative collaboration. Therefore, on the initiative of the Alexander Spendiaryan House Museum in Yerevan, Hovhannes Tumanyan Museum, the great composer’s anniversary event in Tbilisi received the ‘’Creative Second Life: Tbilisi’’ title.
The jubilee events took place on October 23-24 and were held with the blessings of the Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan, with the support of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia and RA Embassy in Georgia. The delegation members headed by Marine Otaryan, the Director of the Alexander Spendiaryan House Museum in Yerevan participated in the events entitled ‘’Creative Second Life: Tbilisi’’.
At the ''Hayartun'' Educational, Cultural and Youth Center the festive mood was began with ''Enzelii'' performance by Arthur Papikyan, student of duduk class, accompanied by Anri Akopyan, duduk teacher Ivane Mkrtchyan and dhol teacher Sergey Malkhayan. The event was conducted by the Head of the Center Eugenia Markosyan and Head of the Diocesan Cultural Department Suren Abramyan.
Diplomats of the RA Embassy in Georgia, clergy, lecturers and students from Vano Sarajishili Tbilisi State Conservatoire, Zakaria Paliashvili House Museum staff members, representatives of art loving public were in the hall.
Marine Otaryan, the Director of Alexander Spendiaryan House Museum in Yerevan made a speech about the interesting and unique facts of Spendiaryan's life. The latter highlighted in her speech the composer's visit to Tbilisi, his friendship with Armenian and Georgian intellectuals, their collaboration spheres and the pages full of arguments of their creative life.
The main points of the speech made by Tinatin Barkalaia, the representative of from Vano Sarajishili Tbilisi State Conservatoire were the visits of Zakaria Paliashvili and Alexander Spendiaryan, during which classical music was bridged becoming an inseparable part of creative life and enriching by innovations from the art world.
Alexander Spendiaryan did not speak his native language but was completely devoted to its culture. His closeness with Hovhannes Tumanyan became a new impetus of the talented composer's devotion to Armenian national culture. Ani Yeghiazaryan, Director of Hovhannes Tumanyan Museum in Yerevan made a speech emphasizing the creative path of the ''Almast'' opera based on ''The Capture of Tmbkaberd'' poem written by the Great Poet from Lori. She highly appreciated the fact that for the first time the ''Almast'' opera was on stage in Moscow, and the second performance took place in Tbilisi bringing great recognition to the talented Armenian composer.
On October 24, the festive mood continued at the ''House of Hovhannes Tumayan'' Center for Science and Culture of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia. The event was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia to Georgia Ruben Sadoyan, Editor of ''Vrastan'' (''Georgia'') newsletter Van Bayburdyan, Artistic director of the Petros Adamyan Tbilisi State Armenian Drama Theatre Armen Bayanduryan, as well as representatives of art-loving public.
The meaningful, organized in high level two-day events were highly appreciated by Rev. Father Kirakos Simonyan, spiritual superintendent of the ''House of Hovhannes Tumanyan'' Center; Avetik Harutyunyan, Attaché of RA Embassy in Georgia; Tamar Mari, representative of Zakaria Paliashvili House Museum. The latter presented a gift – ‘’Zakaria Paliashvili’’ album to the Alexander Spendiaryan House Museum in Yerevan and received the jubilee edition of Alexander Spendiaryan's ''Almast'' opera.
Saint Nerses the Gracious (Surb Nerses Shnorhali) youth choir (Choirmaster Maria Abulyan, soloist Aida Bazoyan, pianist Yesayi Abovyan) of the ‘’Hayartun’’ Center made the events organized by the Diocesan two Centers more beautiful with their performances. in line with the spirit of the day, Gisane Hovsepyan, Head of the ‘’House of Hovhannes Tumanyan’’ Center presented brilliant performances of classical music performed by soloists of Alexander Spendiaryan Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre Diana Harutyunyan, Andranik Malkhasyan, pianist Margarita Sargsyan, as well as beautiful performances by soloist of the Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire Svetlana Tatoeva, student of Professor Ernest Arakelov's violin class Davit Akopov which gave a magical concert to the audience.
Indeed, the jubilee events in Tbilisi on the occasion of his 150th anniversary became an expression of a great respect for the Armenian nation's talented son after whom the Yerevan State Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre is named. Ambassador Ruben Sadoyan was awarded the ''Alexander Spendiaryan 150'' commemorative medal by the Museum in Yerevan.
The day was marked by signing a Memorandum of Cooperation by four organizations in Hovhannes Tumanyan's house in Tbilisi, in the cabinet of the Poet of All Armenians. those four organizations are: Alexander Spendiaryan house Museum in Yerevan on person of Marine Otaryan, Tumanyan Museum in Yerevan on person of Ani Yeghiazaryan, ''House of Hovhannes Tumayan'' Center for Science and Culture of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia on person of Gisane Hovsepyan, and ''Hayartun'' educational, Cultural and Youth center on person of Eugenia Markosyan.
It should be mentioned that due to the pandemic restrictions, the two-day program of jubilee events was broadcast live, and also posted on social media.