Assumption of the mother of God

Aug 17 2004


ANTELIAS, AUGUST 17, ARMENPRESS: On August 15 all the Armenian
Churches in the world celebrate the Assumption of the Holy Mother of
God (Verapokhoum). Although in modern Armenian Verapokhoum means
change again, in Classical Armenian it means transport up. For
fifteen years after the Crucifixion Mary remained in Jerusalem under
the watchful eyes of the apostles, especially John to whom she had
been entrusted. When she died all of the apostles were present at her
burial, except Bartholomew. When he returned to Jerusalem he went to
her grave to pay his respects. The apostles gathered in the cemetery,
but when the gravestone was lifted, they were surprised to find that
her body was not there, instead there was an exceeding sweet
fragrance. It was believed that Mary was physically taken into
heaven. Based on this the church fathers established the Feast of the
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Blessing of the Grapes, although not connected with the
Assumption, is generally commemorated on the same day. First the
special hymn of the day is sung, then passages from the Gospel are
read, after which the prayer pertaining to the blessing of grapes,
which was composed by Catholicos Nerses is read. In this prayer it is
mentioned that on the third day of Creation, God created the
fruit-yielding trees and vegetation on earth. The prayer seeks the
blessing of God to be bestowed on those who give the first yield of
their vineyards as gifts to the church, and asks the Lord to protect
the crops and gardens from harm. After the prayers, the grapes are
blessed and distributed to the congregation.
On Saturday 14 August 2004, The Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia
celebrated the feast of the Holy Virgin Mary’s Assumption. The
Catholicosate also celebrated the pilgrimage day of St. Mary’s
Armenian Monastery in Bikfaya, Lebanon, site of the summer residence
of the Catholicos, and also site of the Seminary. A celebration
dating from 1952, when the Chapel was consecrated in the name of St.
Since the first year of his Pontificate (1995), His Holiness Aram
I has emphasized the importance of the feast as a special day of
spiritual renewal, and especially the pilgrimage day as the day of
the youth. This year, along with thousands of faithful, youths from
many of the Armenian youth organizations walked from Antelias to
Bikfaya as pilgrims of St. Mary’s Monastery, where they joined His
Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia, who presided over the
Thousands of people attended the Divine Liturgy which was
celebrated in the courtyard of the monastery. His Holiness delivered
his pontifical message to the faithful. This year His Holiness
focused his message on the importance of family. Family is the basis
of society. I cannot imagine, spiritually and morally healthy
society, without the family. I cannot imagine an organized and
credible society without the family. Indeed the family remains an
important point of reference, in any society. That is why we as
Catholicos declared this year as the Year of Family. We consider the
family, in a sense, the extension of the church, of the school, of
our homeland. It is in and through the family that the foundation of
Christian formation and Armenian education is laid down. Therefore a
crucial role is given to the Armenian family. It is called to
preserve and promote our Armenian Christian values and tradition in
the context of a world which constantly question the credibility and
relevance of spiritual and moral values. We must, therefore, preserve
the integrity; the credibility of the Armenian Family said His
Following the Divine Liturgy, the ceremony of blessing of grapes
and Madagh took place headed by His Holiness Aram I.