His Holiness Karekin II marked Armenia’s annual “Victory Day” on May 9, 2021, with a message reflecting on the sorrowful realities of the past year, which saw thousands of his countrymen lost to war and sickness.
Since the end of World War II–known as “The Great Patriotic War” among the former Soviet republics–Armenians in the homeland have observed May 9 as a day to remember the Soviet Union’s victory over the invading Nazi army. For the past 30 years, the day has also been an occasion when Armenians remember the heroic Liberation of Shushi in 1992 during the first Artsakh war, and the formal establishment of Artsakh’s armed forces.
While those past achievements are still inspirational, the Catholicos of All Armenians said, in 2021 “we are also reflecting on the tragic consequences of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan last year. Today Azerbaijan continues to persecute the civilian population; our captive military and civilians are still being tortured inhumanely; and the centuries-old Armenian spiritual and cultural heritage in Artsakh continues to be destroyed at their hands.”
The message was part of a day of commemorations that included a solemn Divine Liturgy at St. Gayane Monastery. His Holiness presided over the service, which was celebrated by Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan, dean of Etchmiadzin’s Gevorkian Seminary (and a former vicar of the Eastern Diocese’s St. Vartan Cathedral). Fr. Parsamyan sermon did not shy away from the realities currently facing the Armenian people, but viewed them from the perspective of the Christian message, exemplified in the suffering and resurrection of Christ.
“This is May 9, the triple holiday of our victories, when we commemorate the victory in the Great Patriotic War, the Liberation of Shushi, and the foundation of the Defense Army of Artsakh,” he began. “Today, however, when World War II is a distant reality for the new generation, when Shushi is under the control of the enemy, and the future of the Defense Army of Artsakh is uncertain, it seems impossible to talk about victories. But it is precisely in such gloomy days that we need to hear the message of victory; to commemorate the victory of the spirit–the victory of Christ–which is the guarantee of all our victories.”
Click here to read His Holiness message in Armenian. Read an English translation below.
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Message of His Holiness Karekin II
On the Occasion of Victory Day for the Great Patriotic War [World War II], the Liberation of Shushi, and the Foundation of the Artsakh Defense Force
On this sacred day of May 9, we appreciate the vigorous efforts of our people that contributed to the victory against fascism in World War II, and the establishment of peace in the world.
However, on this day that also symbolizes for us the Liberation of Shushi in the first Artsakh War, and the foundation of the Artsakh Defense Force, we are also reflecting on the tragic consequences of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan last year. Today Azerbaijan continues to persecute the civilian population; our captive military and civilians are still being tortured inhumanely; and the centuries-old Armenian spiritual and cultural heritage in Artsakh continues to be destroyed at their hands.
Dear people, we are facing new challenges today. And against those challenges it is imperative for us to strengthen the Armenian Army: the sole guarantor of safety for our homeland and our peaceful way of life.
May 9 will always be a source of inspiration for us, as a Day of Victory and Peace–proof that victories and achievements can be forged under the invincible power of national unity. Today we owe it to our martyrs, and to the new generation, to make our homeland prosper, whatever the sacrifice; to restore the disrupted course of our lives; to overcome the problems of the Armenians of Artsakh; and to actively fight for the implementation of our national aspirations and goals.
We pray for the peace of the souls of all martyred Armenians, for the return of the captives and the missing, for the healing of the wounded. We pray that our Almighty Lord will keep our homeland in peace and security under his blessing, and strengthen our people with courage, hope, and faith, now and forever. Amen.
Catholicos of All Armenians
May 9, 2021