Reflection: Holy Etchmiadzin

Feast of the Holy Etchmiadzin

This Sunday, as we celebrate the feast of Holy Etchmiadzin, we pause to reflect on the meaning, place, and role of this ancient cathedral in our lives. When we enter an Armenian family’s home, there are certain things we always see. What are these things? Perhaps a picture of Mount Ararat, a khachkar, Armenian books, the Armenian flag, and often a picture or painting of Holy Etchmiadzin. Many of us may have never actually been there, or even in Armenia, but we feel a profound connection to that holy place. This connection is why so many of our homes are adorned with symbols reminding us of Holy Etchmiadzin. But as beautiful as these symbols and reminders are, is that all Etchmiadzin is and is supposed to be? What is Holy Etchmiadzin to us? What is its true place and power in our lives?

Holy Etchmiadzin is special for many reasons. It all started with a vision, a vision that signaled the beginning of something new and powerful—Armenia becoming a Christian nation. This vision united the entire nation around a single idea. Having a vision that brings and holds us together despite our differences is essential. Times change, challenges arise, and situations evolve, but Holy Etchmiadzin continues to unify us and remind us that, as Armenians, we are one and the same.

Holy Etchmiadzin was founded by Christ himself when he appeared in St. Gregory’s vision. This divine foundation reminds us that we have a special God-given calling in this world, a ministry founded by God himself. This makes our connection to Holy Etchmiadzin not just cultural but deeply spiritual. It is a reminder of our unique role and mission as a Christian nation.

Holy Etchmiadzin was built on an ancient Zoroastrian worship place, which in turn was built on an even older Armenian place of worship. This layering of sacred spaces makes Holy Etchmiadzin a symbol of the multi-layered Armenian identity, where the old and new mix, and boundaries transcend time and space. It reminds us of our ancient roots, stretching far beyond our Christian history, all the way to the roots of human civilization.

Nestled between Mount Ararat and the Ararat plains, Holy Etchmiadzin serves as a subconscious symbol of Western and Eastern Armenians, as if holding the two together. It reminds us of our historical fatherland, extending far beyond the borders of the modern Republic of Armenia. This geographical and spiritual symbolism underscores our unity and shared heritage, no matter where we find ourselves in the world.

Holy Etchmiadzin is the cross-section that gave birth to faith, Avarayrs and Sardarabat, the nativity cave of the Armenian sacred alphabet, the music of Komitas, and the original sacred manuscript library. Together, these elements represent the symphony of the Armenian soul. Holy Etchmiadzin stands as a testament to our rich history, our struggles, our victories, and our undying spirit. It is the living embodiment of our cultural and spiritual heritage, a place where the past and present converge to inspire future generations.

As we conclude our reflection, let us remember that Holy Etchmiadzin is not just a picture to hang on the walls of our homes. It is an ethereal fire of love and light burning in our hearts for the Mother Church, The Mother Cathedral and for faith. It reminds us to seek divine vision and guidance in our lives, to embrace each other beyond our differences, and to nurture curiosity for our ancient but living and vibrant Christian faith and tradition.

Holy Etchmiadzin calls us to live out our faith with a sense of unity and purpose, cherishing our rich heritage while looking forward to the future with hope and determination. May we always carry the spirit of Holy Etchmiadzin within us, guiding us and uniting us as one people under God.


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