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Around this time of year, our church prescribes a Scripture reading from the Gospel of Luke, concerning a tragedy in a family household. A man named Jairus and his wife had a daughter, and this girl—only 12 years old—lay dying in their home.

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Every year, a Saturday in early November brings us to one of the more unusual observances of the Armenian Church calendar: the feast day dedicated to the holy archangels Michael and Gabriel. We’ll greet it again this weekend, on November 9.

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At the beginning of November every year, the Armenian Church celebrates All Saints Day. As a church we remember the good and holy people—whether known or unknown—who were spirited heroes filled with Christ’s love, endurance, and faith.

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“Poor working girl perseveres through the adversities of life and love—but finally makes it big.”

It sounds like the outline of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale—or, given a more contemporary spin, a Danielle Steel novel.  But in fact it’s the life story of one of the saints of the Armenian Church: Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and discoverer of the Holy Cross of our Lord.

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To Armenians in the U.S., “Armenian Cultural Month” has been a feature of community life for as long as they can remember. It arrives each October—with a flurry of lectures, readings, exhibits, sacred celebrations, and events intended to remind Armenians of their rich cultural heritage.

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