St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will observe Holy Week, March 25 through 31, with a series of special services, culminating in the Easter Sunday celebration on April 1, 2018.
Holy Week is the sacred commemoration of the dramatic events leading to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, His victory over death and the redemption of humanity and the fallen world. The Armenian Church re-enacts these episodes in the days leading up to Easter.
What follows is a brief schedule of Holy Week events at New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral, which this year is marking its 50th anniversary.
Palm Sunday and Holy Week
PALM SUNDAY–the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem—falls on March 25. Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian (dean of St. Vartan Cathedral) will be the celebrant for the services, which will begin with a Morning Service at 9:30 a.m., and will continue with the Divine Liturgy at 10:30 a.m. The Turun-patzek or “Door-Opening” Service will be held after the Divine Liturgy.
The St. Vartan Cathedral Council will host a special “Children’s Day” program on Palm Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Children ages 5 and older are invited to take part in the Palm Sunday procession, and create arts and crafts.
March 29 is GREAT AND HOLY THURSDAY, and the day’s services memorialize the Last Supper, Jesus’ vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest and trial. Two separate services will be celebrated on this day. In the morning, the Divine Liturgy will begin at 11:00 a.m. This will be followed by a luncheon.
In the evening, the “Washing of the Feet” ceremony will start at 7:00 p.m., with the Khavaroom or Vigil Service following at 8:30 p.m. During the Washing of Feet ceremony, twelve individuals will serve as surrogates for the apostles.
The crucifixion and death of Christ will be observed on March 30—GREAT AND HOLY FRIDAY—and again two services will occur. The Order of the Crucifixion of Christ will begin at 12:00 noon. This will be a short service enabling working people in Manhattan to attend, and it will be followed by a luncheon in the Diocesan Complex.
That same evening, at 7:30 p.m., the Order of the Entombment of the Lord, or Taghoom Service, will take place.
On GREAT AND HOLY SATURDAY, March 31, the Divine Liturgy will be preceded by a scripture-reading ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Easter Eve Liturgy will begin at 7:00 p.m., celebrated by Fr. Mamigon Kiledjian. Students from the Diocesan Khrimian Lyceum and the St. Vartan Armenian Saturday School will provide the Scripture readings. A reception will follow the services.
The drama of Holy Week will culminate on EASTER SUNDAY, April 1. Easter is the central holy day of the Christian calendar, and commemorates the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb and the news of His glorious Resurrection. Matins will begin at 9:30 a.m. The Divine Liturgy will begin at 10:30 a.m. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, will celebrate the liturgy and deliver the homily. The St. Vartan Cathedral Choir will sing the Divine Liturgy under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian. Florence Avakian will accompany on the organ.
Immediately following the service, the Release of Doves ceremony will go forth on the cathedral plaza. This year, Adrienne Alexanian will serve as godmother of the doves ceremony.
An Easter Sunday reception and program will follow the services, in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium. The reception will include a home-blessing service, and the recognition of the various names associated with the holiday. The reception is free and open to the public.
St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral is located at 630 Second Avenue (corner of 34th Street) in New York City.