Primate washes feet of youth

Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

April 18, 2006


By Jake Goshert

One by one the young men and little boys stepped forward, sitting before
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian as he knelt over a bowl of blessed water. The
Primate took each boy’s feet into his hands, washing it before anointing it
with oil. The boys then kissed his ring reverently, before returning to
their place by the altar of New York City’s St. Vartan Cathedral.

On Thursday, April 13, 2006, as part of this year’s Holy Thursday
celebrations, the Primate re-enacted the Last Supper, where Jesus washed the
feet of his 12 disciples in a gesture of humility and love.

This year, to mark the 1,600th anniversary of the creation of the Armenian
alphabet, the 12 people representing the disciples at the cathedral were
young men and boys from Armenian Schools at the St. Vartan Cathedral and
from the St. Gregory the Illuminator Mission Parish in Brooklyn, NY.

“It was important for me to participate, because it is a very personal honor
to be up there,” said Armen Bandikian, 15, who serves on the cathedral
altar. “This service shows the importance of the church, and the importance
of Christ and Christianity as well.”

The group of twelve boys included four from the growing St. Gregory the
Illuminator Mission Parish in Brooklyn, NY. That community is made up of
recent Armenian immigrant families.

“Having our young people participate was such a big event and a big honor,”
said Svetlana Amerkhanian, parish council chairman of St. Gregory. “More
than that, the children participating brought up a lot of questions and we
gave a lot of answers about what this is about.”

For one young Brooklyn parishioner, Erik Bazian, participating in the
ceremony was a way to honor a connection to past generations of Christians.

“We still practice Christianity today the way they have for generations. We
did the same thing tonight,” he said.

Participating in this year’s “Washing of the Feet” ceremony at New York
City’s St. Vartan Cathedral were: William Babikian, Arthur Bagdasarian,
Armen Bandikian, Erik Bazian, Narek Bazian, Arsen Danilyan, Tavit Jlanjian,
Harry Petropoulos, Krikor Torossian, Vartan Torossian, Armen Shamamian, Avik

— 4/18/06

E-mail photos available on request. Photos also viewable in the News and
Events section of the Eastern Diocese’s website,

PHOTO CAPTION (1): Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate, washes the feet of
David Ilanjian, 4, during Holy Thursday’s “Washing of the Feet” ceremony at
New York City’s St. Vartan Cathedral on April 13, 2006.

PHOTO CAPTION (2): Twelve young men and boys join the Primate at the altar
of New York City’s St. Vartan Cathedral during the “Washing of the Feet”
ceremony on Holy Thursday, April 13, 2006.

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