Mourning the Last Christian Clergy in Artsakh

News: World News
by Church Militant  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 12, 2023   

Church bells silent after 1,700 years

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VANK, Artsakh (ChurchMilitant.com) -The world continues to mourn the exit of all Armenian Christians from their ancestral home of Artsakh.

On Oct. 11, the last photo of the last clergy of Dadivank was posted on X. Dadivank is an ancient Armenian apostolic monastery bordering on the disputed region of Artsakh.  

The clergy fleeing Artsakh arrived in Armenia on Oct. 1. Their absence from the homeland that day marks the first time in 1,722 years that no Armenian Christian prayer was heard in Artsakh. Before leaving the sacred monastery, the clergy prayed to return one day.

Artsakh, an enclave of Christianity in the middle of mostly Muslim Azerbaijan until just days ago, was blockaded by Muslim Azeri forces for over nine months, beginning at the start of 2023. In what was called a religious genocide, the blockade starved the populace and deprived the locals of food, fuel and necessary medical help. 

Having adamantly refused to lift the blockade for nine months, the Azeri government finally lifted it on Oct. 1 after Artsakh's leaders signed a surrender decree.

Weary survivors used the opening to escape to Armenia. Crammed into cars and trucks, they left their ancestral homeland, homes, possessions, churches, monasteries and animals, terrified of the prospect of further persecution by the Azeri government. Over 100,000 are reported to have fled.

But the plight of the Armenians is reportedly not over. At the end of September, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., delivered a powerful message regarding the Azeri government's intentions. He conveyed that Azerbaijan's goals extend beyond simply wiping Artsakh off the map but extend also to Armenia. 

The Azeri government denies that the Dadivank is a monastery with Christian significance, instead calling it a "Caucasian Albanian temple."

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