By Aram Arkun
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – On November 1, all churches in the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) consecrated printed canvas replicas of the icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, originally painted by Tigran Barkhanajyan for the 2015 ceremony of canonization. Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston was no exception.
Its pastor, Fr. Vasken Kouzouian, later said “it was a very emotional day. It left a powerful impression on those participating — and many generations participated, from the youngest to the oldest. This was done intentionally, as it is our ancestry that we are venerating.”
Kouzouian declared in his sermon that “many of us are going to feel a bond with this icon because a part of our family tree is depicted in it. The artist, who created this painting, made an effort to portray every segment of Armenian life as it was in the beginning of the 20th century.” He continued, “Our family tree has generations of history and generations of stories to tell, but at the same time our family tree contains a branch that was dead. It was cut off in the prime of life.” Yet now, he said, through canonization of the martyrs, the branch had turned living and golden and the martyrs’ “blood, hope, faith and traditions run through our lives.”
The icon was cleansed first with water and wine. The children of Genocide survivors cleaned it and then younger people of newer generations came to dry it off. As the icon was brought into the church, Kouzouian noted how it turned into the focus of attention of all. It had an unusual effect on those present. He said, “There were tears flowing, and deep reflection going on. People came up to kiss the icon in different ways…It was a very beautiful and moving experience.”
In the future, the veneration day for this icon will be in April, because of the traditional chronology of the Armenian Genocide, but this year it was done on November 1, immediately after the ancient Feast of All Saints of October 31.