Armenians Host Prayer for Peace
The Armenian Cathedral of St. James was the venue of the 4th edition of the “Extraordinary Prayer of all the Churches for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace” in Jerusalem on Saturday, September 25th.
The bell from the wood of St. James rang in the tradition of the Armenian Church of Jerusalem signifying the call to prayer. Christians from all over the Holy City came together: Latin Catholics, Melkites, Greek Orthodox, Lutherans, Coptics, and Armenians. Church leaders present included: His Excellency Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio; His Excellency William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Abouna Joseph of the Melkite Church; and His Excellency Nourhan Manougian, Grand Sacristan of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem who chaired the ceremony.
The Armenian community, in a liturgy true to its tradition, invited the faithful to join in their feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, which is one of the five most important holidays of the Armenian calendar.
After the singing of Psalms, Litany for Peace and songs associated with Father Armando, conductor of the Franciscan choir in Jerusalem joined by others and choir of the Custody proclaimed the gospel of the Crucifixion (Jn 19 , 17-22).
Finally, to the tune of “By The All Victorious Sign”, Bishop Manougian carried the relics of the Holy Cross in procession in the cathedral. The relics were used for final blessings of the faithful as the following words were prayed: “Be blessed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Go in peace and may the Lord be with you all. Amen.” Noticeably visible was a pile of documents which accompanied the precious relic. Tradition has it that when the cross was found, with it was fresh mint, a sign that with the recovery of the Cross, the Lord came back to life, everything comes to life.
After the celebration, Father Samuel, superior of the Holy Sepulchre to the Armenians was very pleased and honored to have hosted this prayer for peace gathering. He stated that Armenians have a role to play in promoting unity. Such was also the reaction of the Father Goossan Al Janian, master of ceremonies of the Armenian Patriarchate, expressing that he was “personally involved in ecumenism.”
Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio, recalled how those moments were important and needed for moving forward in peace. He also added that “ecumenism and peace must go together in this region,” before asserting that “the solution comes from above, only from on High!”