Members of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church in Granite City put out 100 crosses Saturday to represent the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church, located in Granite City, joins people of their faith worldwide to educate and remember the 100-year anniversary of the genocide of their people 100 years ago in their homeland. Many countries still refuse to recognize this horrific time of history for the people of their faith. Saturday, April 4, members of the church put out 100 crosses to represent the 100-year anniversary of this atrocity. The church will join with churches of their faith worldwide to pray for the truth of this crime to be historically accepted.
Genocide is the organized killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and an internal machinery to implement. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime, as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction.
On April 24, 1915, the first phase of the Armenian massacres began with the arrest and murder of hundreds of intellectuals, mainly from Constantinople, the capital of Ottoman Empire (now Istanbul in present day Turkey). Subsequently, Armenians worldwide commemorate April 24 as a day that memorializes all the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The second phase of the “final solution” appeared with the conscription of some 60,000 Armenian men into the general Turkish army, who were later disarmed and killed by their Turkish fellowmen.
The third phase of the genocide comprised massacres, deportations and death marches made up of women, children and the elderly into the Syrian deserts. During those marches, hundreds of thousands were killed by Turkish soldiers, gendarmes and Kurdish mobs. Others died because of famine, epidemic diseases and exposure to the elements. Thousands of women and children were raped. Tens of thousands were forcibly converted to Islam.
Finally, the fourth phase of the Armenian genocide appeared with the total and utter denial by the Turkish government of the mass killings and elimination of the Armenian nation on its homeland. Despite the ongoing international recognition of the Armenian genocide, Turkey has consistently fought the acceptance of the Armenian Genocide by any means, including false scholarship, propaganda campaigns, lobbying, etc.
The Armenian Apostolic Church will be canonizing the victims of the Armenian Genocide on April 23. This is the first time in 400 years the church will resume the rite of canonization. Bishop Bagrat Galstyan, Director of Ecclesiastical Conceptual Affairs Office at Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, said there is no special number for canonization because it is not clear how many genocide victims were followers of the Apostolic Church; it will be a collective ritual.
According to Galstyan, the canonization will be an unprecedented event since the last saint that was proclaimed and is remembered is Hayrapet Movses Tatevatsi, who was canonized in the 18th century. The bishop said there are four conditions for canonization; they are martyrdom for the faith and the fatherland, pious life and pious behavior of an individual or a collective, existence of miracles alive or dead, and preaching the faith, spreading the belief.
“The Armenian Church does not bestow sanctification, it merely recognizes the saints or the sanctity of those people,” he said.
The ritual of canonization will be held at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and will probably start at 4 p.m. and end at 7:15 p.m., which will symbolize the year 1915. At the end, the bells of all Armenian churches of the world will ring, after which there will be a moment of silence and the Lord’s Prayer. St. Gregory the Illuminator will join in this event.