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A Special “Khatchveratz” at St. Vartan Cathedral

New York’s St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral will hold a special service on the evening of Sunday, September 16, to honor the major feast day known as Khatchveratz, or the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Beginning at 6 p.m., Diocesan Primate the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan will preside over a Medz Antasdan (“Blessing of the World”) service. Clergy and deacons from the throughout the region will participate in the service, which involves moving in procession through the cathedral sanctuary, to invoke God’s blessings over the “four corners” of the earth.

“In former times, our church would perform the antasdan ceremony several times during the year,” the Primate explained, “and the one on the evening of Khatchveratz would be the grandest and most comprehensive. We think of the antasdan as the ‘Blessing of Fields,’ but in fact it’s a blessing over the entire world: on all of its varied people and their leaders.”

“It’s amazing to think of our relatively small community of faithful feeling the urgent necessity to bless the whole world—but that’s exactly the meaning of this service,” Fr. Findikyan added.

“This was a meaningful tradition for Armenians, which I’d like to reconnect with amid the vast diversity of New York City.”

Relic of the True Cross

For this Feast of the Exaltation—one of the five major feast days of the Armenian Church calendar—the Primate will unveil a rarely-seen treasure of St. Vartan Cathedral: an actual relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ, contained in a magnificent cross-shaped reliquary.

The relic will be led in procession through the cathedral, and worshippers will have a chance to approach and venerate it. “It’s a remarkable piece of our heritage: just a small shard of wood, but holding such meaning for us,” the Primate said. “It originated on the mound of Golgotha in Jerusalem, was brought to Armenia, and from there was transmitted to the safe-keeping of this Diocese.”

All are welcome to join in this uplifting evening service, which Fr. Findikyan describes as “a kind of Bible study in motion; a reflection on the miracle of our Lord’s cross.”

Please note that the Divine Liturgy on September 16 will go forward as is customary at the cathedral, starting at 10:30 a.m. The Khatchveratz Medz Antasdan service will start at 6 p.m., with a duration of about 90 minutes. A reception on the cathedral plaza will follow.

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