His Holiness Karekin II marked Armenia’s annual “Victory Day” on May 9, 2022, with a message reflecting on the painful realities of war and loss experienced by Armenians in the past two years.
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 that in this year, “We honor these glorious holidays with broken hearts and sorrowful souls: for the catastrophic consequences of the war against Artsakh have not yet been overcome, our children have not returned from captivity, we have no information about the missing, and thousands of families have been left without children or parents.”
But he went on the draw hope from the historical experience of the Armenian people, and the faith in God that has allowed them to overcome trials and sorrows of the past. “The centuries-old history of our nation,” he wrote, “motivates us to face the internal and external challenges confronting our people, and our homeland, in the same spirit.”
The Victory Day commemoration included a visit to Armenia’s Victory Memorial Park by members of the monastic brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin. With Catholicos Karekin II traveling overseas on a pontifical visit, the clergy laid wreaths before Armenia’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and paid prayerful respects before monuments honoring the heroic defenders of Armenia and Artsakh.
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
From the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, we send our patriarchal blessings and congratulations to our beloved people on Victory and Peace Day, the Liberation of Shushi, the founding days of the Artsakh Defense Force, as well as our homage to the veterans of the Patriotic War and the brave soldiers of the Artsakh war.
We honor these glorious holidays with broken hearts and sorrowful souls: for the catastrophic consequences of the war against Artsakh have not yet been overcome, our children have not returned from captivity, we have no information about the missing, and thousands of families have been left without children or parents. We bring our prayers and humility to the immortal memory of the fallen defenders of our homeland.
Beloved ones, the centuries-old history of our nation—with its many testimonies of overcoming difficulties and trials, of creating victories—motivates us to face the internal and external challenges now confronting our people, and our homeland, in the same spirit. The struggles for the protection of the right to live freely and independently, which are being marked today, are symbols of national unity and solidarity, which are needed more than ever before in the present difficult situation, to jointly face the challenges, and build a new tomorrow, a bright future, and new victories.
We pray for peace on earth and among all mankind, asking our resurrected Lord to keep our homeland prosperous and secure under the protection of His almighty right hand. May He strengthen our people all over the world with courage, hope, and faith, now and always. Amen.
Catholicos of All Armenians
May 9, 2022