Canonization of Armenian Martyrs
From 1894 to 1915 more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in Ottoman Turkey. This was a well-organized crime against Armenian Christians who were living in the territory of the Ottoman Empire. Many Armenians had a chance to reject Christ and Christianity and become Muslims and save their lives, but they chose to die for Christ.
Every year on April 24, Armenians around the world commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Year 2015 is the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and on this occasion the Armenian Church celebrated a special Service on April 23, 2015 at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, during which those who died for their faith in the Genocide were canonized into sainthood. We don’t know exactly how many of them died for their faith but we know that there were many.
Canonization doesn’t mean that their status was changed in heaven. With this special service of canonization the Armenian Church recognized their faithfulness to Christ and their holy works which, of course, are known to God and are proven by many witnesses. Canonization means to declare a deceased person an officially recognized saint, sanctioned by ecclesiastical authority.
The last time that the Armenian Church canonized a saint was almost 400 years ago and that was St. Movses Datevaci.
In the early Christian Church there were four conditions for canonizing saints:
- Being martyred for the Christian faith and homeland
- Living a holy life
- Performing miracles
- Preaching and spreading the Christian faith
It is assumed that most of our Genocide victims died for their faith and homeland.
The canonization of our Martyrs has brought great happiness and hope to our nation. As of April 24, 2015 we now celebrate the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide as we celebrate other Armenian Church Saints.
After this there no longer will be a Requiem Service for the Genocide victims. Now we can pray to them as our saints or martyrs who will be able to intercede for us before God.
Many of you have ancestral family members who perished during the Armenian Genocide and you may feel their closeness in praying to them for their intercession on your behalf.