The Armenian genocide and the message of an Armenian saint

This Sunday Armenians and people of good will around the world will commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

A century ago millions of men, women and children – including Assyrians and Greeks – were brutally tortured and exterminated upon the direct order and plan of the Ottoman Turkish government, thereby emptying the region of its indigenous populations and deliberately destroying millennia-old Christian heritage.

Armenians were martyred also because of their Christian faith and as recently as last year the Armenian Apostolic Church canonised all the victims of the genocide as saints.

It is tragic that the cycle of genocide continues to this day in various parts of the world. Part of the reason behind it is the impunity of the past crimes and the unwillingness of the international community to undertake meaningful measure to stop it.

Only by fully facing the tragedies of the past and dealing with them in a truthful and just manner can the humanity move forward.

These ideas are enshrined in the work of a 10th-century Armenian monk, St Gregory of Narek, whom Pope Francis proclaimed a Doctor of the Church for his invaluable contributions towards the Christian theology and community at-large.

St Gregory of Narek is best-known for his work the Book of Lamentations (also called Book of Prayers), which outlines profound ideas about the purification and sanctification of humanity.

The book is a monologue structured as a prayer to God “from the depths of the heart” in which St Gregory ascribes to himself all possible sins, exposing himself and confessing to God.

The saint suggests a way of human perfection through repenting to God.

This was a revolutionary idea aimed at dispelling the ignorance of the Middle Ages. Long before Martin Luther, St Gregory advocated direct communication with God. Centuries later this idea was to become the basis of Reformation. Continue reading

Sources

  • Catholic Herald, from an article by Vahan Dilanyan, the Assistant to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia.
  • Image: Telegraph UK

 

News category: Features.

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