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The Bells of St. Astvatzatzin: No Armenians Left in Madras to Hear ...
Tutto sulla Chiesa Surp Asdvatzatzin di Chennai (ex Madras) una delle chiese più antiche dell'India.... e sulle influenti personalità armene ......
La chiesa Surp Asdvatzatzin fù costruita nel 1772 dai ricchi commercianti armeni sulle rovine di una cappella del 1712 distrutta durante le guerre coloniali ......è situata sulla via chiamata "Armenian Street"..
Le campane non suonano più come una volta ogni domenica per richiamare i fedeli.... per quarant'anni consecutivi Padre Shemavon, l'editore del primo periodico armeno "Azdarar"-in Madras- vi aveva celebrato la santa liturgia....
Quando si sentono risuonare le campane i residenti della zona sanno che un armeno è entrato in chiesa......
Anche le campane hanno la loro lunga storia ..sono tre paia di campane che ogni armeno che visita la chiesa vuole vedere e far suonare ....

The Bells of St. Astvatzatzin: No Armenians Left in Madras to Hear Them Ring
[ 2010/03/22 | 16:10 ] Feature Stories diaspora
Church and belfry testament to a proud past long gone
St. Astvatzatzin Armenian Church, one of the oldest Christian structures in all of India and the Far East is located in Chennai (formerly Madras).
It was built in 1772 on the grounds an ancient Armenian cemetery that later became the private property of the Shahamirian family.
The church replaced an Armenian chapel that had been built in 1712 that was destroyed in the 1746 British-French colonial war. There are two dates inscribed at the church entrance – 1772 1nd 1712. The new construction was financed by Shahamir Shahamirian (Sultanumian) in memory of his wife who had died at an early age.
St. Astvatzatzin (Holy Mother of God) is a testament to the glorious history of Armenians in Madras. One can say that the entire legacy of Armenian Madras, that had become the foundry of the new liberation thought of the times, has been stored under the arches of this magnificent church.
St. Astvatzatzin is resting place for many historic figures
The white-plastered church is located on a street where the noted merchants Shahamir Shahamirian, Samuel Moorat, the Gregory Brothers, Seth Sam returned after their long and arduous journeys and found eternal rest.
This is where the Madras Group was formed. Its members, including Movses Baghramian, Shahamir Shahamirian and Joseph Emin, soared no efforts to inculcate Armenian youth with ideals of enlightenment and progressive thought.
Under these arches, every Sunday for forty consecutive years, Father Harutiun Shmavonian, publisher of the first Armenian periodical “Azdarar” (Monitor), offered the Holy Liturgy.
At least two Armenian printing presses were started here in Madras, and an Armenian school. Many of the notable members of the Madras Armenian community were laid to rest here. No wonder the street is named “Armenian Street”.
Time has marched on and there are no longer any Armenians in Madras. But the walled Armenian Church, symbolizing their eternal glory rises proudly on a hill top. At first glance, it is hardly noticeable.
When bells ring locals know an Armenian has returned
The commercial shopkeepers that line the street know precious little about the church. But they are aware that it’s the oldest Christian cathedral in the district.
Few also know that the unique and valuable examples of the first Christian bells forged rest here in the church, in the three story bell tower that rises apart from the church.
The belfry’s three pair of enormous bells called the faithful to church for many decades. Sadly, now the bells are not rung every Sunday. When the peeling of the bells is heard, residents in the vicinity of Armenian Street know that an Armenian has come to the church. Most Armenian visitors today come from Calcutta. The bulk of Madras Armenians relocated to Calcutta in the latter half of the 19th century.

Seta Martayan

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