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 PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 7:25 pm    Post subject: PILGRIMAGE TO KAYSERI Reply with quote Back to top

LRAPER Church Bulletin
Contact: Deacon Vagarsag Seropyan
Armenian Patriarchate
TR-34130 Kumkapi, Istanbul
T: +90 (212) 517-0970
F: +90 (212) 516-4833


The annual pilgrimage to the Armenian Church of Saint Gregory the
Illuminator in Kayseri (Caesarea Cappadocia) was held on 18 and 19 June
2005. His Beatıtude Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarch of İstanbul and All
Turkey, led the pilgrimage, accompanied by the Revd. Fathers John Whooley,
Myuron Ayvazyan, Kevork Cinaryan, Drtad Uzunyan and Deacon Sahag Bicakciyan.

His Beatitude the Patriarch travelled to Kayseri by plane, and after a short
rest at the Kayseri Airport lounge, he proceeded together with his entourage
to the Kayseri Armenian Church where he prayed for the spiritual benefits of
the pilgrimage.

By noon, two other groups from İstanbul arrived in Kayseri by bus, led by
the Very Revd. Fr. Yeghishe Uchkunyan. The Liturgy of the Word was
celebrated at 13:00 hours, following which the pilgrims travelled to Mt.
Erciyes for lunch.

His Beatitude went to the Kayseri Municipal Cemetery in order to visit the
tombs of Muharrem and Gungor Buyukmihci, a benevolent Moslem couple that he
had known for many years and who passed on, one after the other, during the
last year. The Patriarch remembered their benevolent Works and prayed for
the repose of their souls.

Patriarch Mesrob, together with his entourage, was then escorted to Taksan,
a large plant owned by the Buyukmihci family in the Incesu district outside
the city of Kayseri. Following the tour of the impressive plant which
produces machine parts to 22 foreign countries, the Patriarch and his
company were treated to a meal in the picturesque garden of a villa owned by
businessman Ahmet Buyukmihci. Having sampled the delicious Kayseri cuisine,
the Patriarch thanked the Buyukmihci family for their warm hospitality.

The Patriarch and his entourage then visited the town of Develi (formerly
Everek), where they visited the Saint Toros Armenian Church (now Fatih
Mosque) and the old Armenian Quarter. The group continued its journey in the
vicinity of Mt Erciyes, passing through the districts of Talas and Hisarcik,
and finally arriving at the Hilton where some of the pilgrims were to stay


On Sunday, 19 June 2005, the second day of the pilgrimage to Kayseri, His
Beatitude the Patriarch presided over the divine services in the Armenian
Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. The Holy Eucharist was offered by
the Very Revd. Fr. Yeghishe Uchkunyan. Altar servers were Deacon Sahag
Bicakciyan, Sub-deacon Levon Kuyumcuyan and two acolytes. Participating in
the Liturgy were 110 pilgrims from Istanbul, Musadagh, Adana, Sivas and

Delivering his homily in the second part of the Liturgy, the Patriarch
analysed the historic events leading to the conversion of the Armenian court
at the beginning of the fourth century from a spiritual perspective.
Mentioning the passion of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the tortures he had
to endure and his imprisonment in an underground pit, the Patriarch
commented that Satan always seeks to destroy the good seeds planted by men
of God. In the Parable of the Tares, we see that Satan seeks to destroy the
good seed which has been planted in the hearts of those who have heard God's
word. The image the Lord Jesus uses in the parable is a common everyday
example of planting, harvesting, and sorting the good fruit from the bad.
Weeds can spoil and even kill a good harvest if they are not separated and
destroyed at the proper time. On the other hand, uprooting them too early
can destroy the good work and the good plants in the process. Just like
Saint Gregory, His Beatitude exhorted that, we, too, must often continue our
work, mission and ministry despite evil attacks from Satan and his
representatives. God's patience teaches us to guard the word he has planted
in our hearts and to beware of the destructive force of sin and evil which
can destroy it. In the end, God will reward each according to what they have
sown and reaped in this life. In that day, we believe that God will separate
the evil from the good.

The Service for the Repose of Souls followed, with the former Primate of the
Diocese of Caesarea Cappadocia, Bishop Drtad Balyan of blessed memory, and
the deceased members of the Kayseri Armenian community being commemorated.

The luncheon after the Divine Services, a generous gift of businessman Ahmet
Buyukmihci, blessed by His Beatitude, was then held in the courtyard of the
church. The final event was a visit to the Armenian cemetery in Kayseri,
following which most of the pilgrims returned by coach or car to their
respective cities.

His Beatitude the Patriarch, answering questions posed by press reporters,
spoke as follows: `This is an annual pilgrimage that we undertake every year
to this church which is a holy site for the Armenian people. It was in this
city that the second founder of the Armenian Church, Saint Gregory the
Illuminator, grew as a child in grace, studied the Holy Scriptures and
theology in the famous school of Caesarea, married, had two sons, and later,
after healing King Drtad, was ordained Bishop of Armenia Major by Archbisop
Leontius of Caesarea. This church, first built in the 11th century by
Armenians who had come from Ani, commemorates these events in the formative
period of our hierarchy as we know it today. Every Divine Liturgy celebrated
here is an occasion to remember these historic events in the life of our
Church, in situ, thank the Almighty Lord for His blessings, and to pray for
peace in our community, our country, our region and in the world. In prayer,
I am particularly reminded of all the soldiers who are mostly involuntarily
engaged in war in our region and in various corners of the world. They are
sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers to numerous
families. I pray for the safety of all soldiers. I pray for an end to these
armed conflicts and violence. I pray for peace. `

Later in the afternoon, the Patriarch, with his entourage, visited the
Archaeological Museum in Kayseri, the Covered Bazaar, the Beshtepe Hill Park
opposite Mt. Erciyes, thence travelling to and arriving in Istanbul just
before Sunday midnight.
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