A Valiant Spirit, for 22 Years

His Holiness Karekin II

This week marks the 22nd anniversary of the enthronement of His Holiness Karekin II. It was on November 4, 1999, that His Holiness was consecrated as the 132nd Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, in a magnificent ceremony at the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Throughout the history of the Armenian Church, our great symbol of leadership has been the Catholicos of All Armenians. To every generation of our people, the catholicos is the leader of the church.

But he leads in a larger sense, as well. He is the living embodiment of our heritage: a heritage that has endured through 17 centuries; that has attained the highest achievements; and that today spans the entire globe.

As the successor to St. Gregory the Illuminator, His Holiness Karekin II is our generation’s link to the great events that transformed the Armenian people into the world’s first Christian nation. He is our link to the miraculous vision of Christ that established the Mother See of our church: Holy Etchmiadzin.

In the presence of Amenayn Hayots, one experiences a rebirth of those great milestones of faith.

As we honor the 22nd anniversary of the enthronement of His Holiness Karekin II, we remember that the 132nd Catholicos embodies another re-birth, as well. For our homeland has also been reborn. It is God’s blessing that our generation has lived to see the establishment of an independent Republic of Armenia.

Vehapar has been a leading force in rebuilding our homeland, and fortifying its ancestral church. As he reminds us of our proud past, he also turns our eyes to the promise that Armenia can hold in the future.

Catholicos Karekin’s valiant spirit calls each of us to build upon the foundation we have inherited: to beautify that inheritance, and strengthen it for the sake of the future. Certainly, that is the task that Vehapar has taken up as leader of our church: to revitalize the spiritual life of the Armenian people throughout the world.

Now, in this year of so many tribulations, we have seen that valiant spirit expressed as never before. Through tense months of the pandemic, war, and its uncertain aftermath, His Holiness was–and continues to be–a voice of strength, conviction, and reassurance for our people; a champion of our ancient Christian heritage, and of our national aspirations for the future.

Two years ago, Catholicos Karekin discouraged holding a grand celebration of his 20th anniversary while the Mother Cathedral was undergoing its restoration. And last year, with our homeland at war, his entire attention was focused on the well being of our people. Now, his 22nd year on the pontifical throne is time for the faithful of the worldwide Armenian Church to unite in prayer for the health, long life, and spiritual fortitude of our Catholicos.

Parishes throughout the Eastern Diocese will do so on Sunday, November 7, with a special prayer service offered during the Divine Liturgy.

In honoring Vehapar’s 22nd anniversary, we stand with him, and with the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, at this critical moment in the life of our nation, church, and people. May God continue to bless and strengthen him in his ministry.

And may our risen Lord grant a new birth of faith—a new life—to all the members of Christ’s humble Armenian flock.

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