Wednesday, January 11, 2006


It's been some days since my last post. Lest you think I had nothing to write about, you are mistaken. Indeed, with the beginning of the New Year, there is so much to tell, I'm at a loss for words. The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem observes Feast Days according to the Julian Calendar. Therefore, New Year will come to us on Friday, the 13th of January, followed by the Feast of the Nativity, beginning on the 18th and continuing to the 19th of January. But before that, we have already observed some other important Feast Days--The Feast of King David and St. James (January 5)and the Feast of St. Stephen the Proto-Martyr (January 7). Here is a description of the latter. All I can say is, you should have been there for a first-hand experience.

On Saturday, 7 January 2006, the St. James Brotherhood of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem marked the Feast of St. Stephen, the Proto-Martyr, a special occasion of recognition for all Deacons. In the morning, Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the St. James Cathedral, in the presence of Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and with the participation of members of the Brotherhood and the students of the St. James Seminary and Theological School.

At the beginning of the ceremony, ten of the seminarians, who are ordained Stole-Bearers and Deacons, vested in robes, stoles and sacerdotal crowns, and carrying censors and candles, approached His Beatitude the Patriarch for his blessing and proceeded with the performance of their liturgical duties. At the conclusion of the services, His Beatitude received the Deacons for an audience in the Patriarchal reception hall.

In the evening, the seminarians gathered in the Seminary’s dining hall for a celebratory banquet, presided by His Beatitude Patriarch Torkom, and attended by members of the St. James Brotherhood, and the teaching staff of the Seminary. As the Patriarch and his entourage entered the hall, the Deacons sang the traditional hymn dedicated to St. Stephen, the “Proto-Deacon and First Martyr.”

Fr. Haigazoun Yeghiaian, the Seminary’s Vice-Dean, began the program with welcoming words, concluding them with, “I hope that we will follow the example of St. Stephen to learn and to teach, because we are students and Deacons at the same time.” The ensuing remarks, recitations, and singing, focused on the devotion of St. Stephen, who left everything behind to enter a life of service to his Lord and Saviour.

His Beatitude the Patriarch brought the evening to a close, saying, “Stephen was part of the first group of Deacons, doing menial tasks, caring for the needy and the disabled. But he did this with love, and so it was a pleasure. Remember that ascent is difficult, but we must always strive to ascend and to elevate.” The event ended with the singing of the Lord’s Prayer and with the final blessing by His Beatitude.

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