Mass held in 10th century Armenian church on island in Lake Van
A mass was held on Sunday in the 1,100-year-old Armenian church in the Island of Aghtamar in Turkey's eastern province of Van, Duvar's Kadir Cesur reported, noting that it marked the 11th mass held since the reopening of the church in 2010.
The island, three km from the shoreline of Lake Van, is home to the 10th century Armenian Holy Cross Cathedral, which was the seat of the Armenian Apostolic Catholicosate of Aghtamar from 1116 to 1895.
Only a single mass is allowed in the church every year by Turkish authorities.
???? Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı'nın özel izniyle yılda bir kez ibadete açılan Van Gölü'ndeki Akdamar Adası'nda bulunan kilisede 11. ayin yapıldı pic.twitter.com/t1KqZBZTwD— dokuz8haber (@dokuz8haber) September 10, 2023
Visitors were taken to the island on boats from the pier in the district of Gevas. The mass was attended by Archbishop Sahag II Mashalian, the 85th Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Priest Hovagim Seropyan, who directed the rite, and guests including the governor and mayor of Gevas.
The participation was relatively low this year, Kadir Cesur said, due to economic hardships, insufficient air transport to the province and security concerns according to the representatives of the Armenian community.
A police force larger than usual was present on the island during the mass and coast guards were on patrol with police helicopters flying over the lake.
The Armenian Holy Cross Cathedral remained closed for 95 years after the Armenian Genocide in 1915.