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- RIK 1 report here -
Sunday 9 May 2010 - The Office of the Representative of the Armenian Community, Mr Vartkes Mahdessian, in co-operation with the Armenian Prelature of Cyprus, organised last Sunday 9 May 2010 the third visit-pilgrimage to the Sourp Magar Monastery (Magaravank). The first time was on 6 May 2007, when Armenian Cypriots visited the occupied Armenian Monastery as a community after 33 years. According to the Representative’s Office, around 200 Armenian Cypriots visited the monastery on Sunday, some of whom came especially from abroad.
The monastery was founded by Copts around the year 1000 AD and in 1425 it was inherited by the Armenians. It is dedicated to Saint Makarios the Hermit of Alexandria and it is located in the eastern part of the Turkish-occupied Pendadhaktylos at an altitude of 550 metres and a small distance from Halevga, within the Plataniotissa forest. The vast land of the monastery, which is over 8.000 donums, includes 30.000 olive and carob trees, extends up to the sea and is known to be picturesque and idyllic. From the monastery one can see the Taurus mountain range in Cilicia, which is right opposite.
The Armenian Monastery had been for centuries a popular pilgrimage for Armenians and non-Armenians and a place of recuperation for Catholicoi (Patriarchs) and other clerics from Cilicia, Jerusalem and Armenia, as well as a popular centre for local and foreign travellers and for pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. Furthermore, the monastery was used as a summer resort, where Armenian scouts and students would camp, including students of the Melkonian Educational Institute, many of whom were orphans of the Armenian Genocide. A large number of exquisite and priceless manuscripts, dating back to 1202, as well as other valuable ecclesiastical relics were housed there. Fortunately, in 1947 some of them were saved when they were transferred to the “Cilicia” museum of the Catholicosate of Cilicia.
The Magaravank is the only Armenian monastery in Cyprus and together with the church of the Virgin Mary in occupied Nicosia, it is the most important Armenian church monument on the island. It was occupied in 1974 during the Turkish invasion and ever since it remains at the mercy of nature, silent, ruined, desecrated and deserted, awaiting for its rightful owners to return.
Vartkes Mahdessian
Representative of the Armenian Community
Simon Aynedjian - Gibrahayer e-magazine - Nicosia 22 April - Armenians in Cyprus have a singular, complex and fateful mission in these historic lands. Our conflictual history continues on an island that its own turbulent history converges, and blue-prints a common path with its people, with whom we now walk together and face the challenges of tomorrow.
We are not just another community trying to make the next day away from our lands, as our island is littered with "forensic evidence" that is being challenged day-in day-out a century later.
On the eve of the 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the historic 2nd pilgrimage to Sourp Magar Monastery on May 10, our community re-evaluates, prepares and declares.

- We are travelling to Sourp Magar Monastery not as tourists but as owners of our land. Owners, not only of the lands that belong to our Church within the property of the
Monastery, but as owners of the occupied lands around it, as Cypriot citizens.
- The effects of the Genocide as well as the invasion of Cyprus are as current as the time they were perpetrated. Time will heal the wounds, only if Genocide and invasion are called with their name, evaluated and addressed as such.
- If the loots of Genocide and invasions are rewarded, we all run the risk of building societies that accept violence and build a future based on it.
- Turkish society is increasingly showing signs of coming to terms with its past. Turkish Cypriots, as witnesses of the influx of the first Genocide survivors of the Ar menians in Cyprus and the first society that welcomed the Armenian refugees, have a unique role to serve as a catalyst in assisting Turks in the mainland for reconciling with their past.

The "forensic evidence" must be put on the table.

However, this is not enough.

In order to claim what rightfully belongs to us and to stay as a strong link in the history of the Armenians in Cyprus, we have to stay committed.
- Committed to taking the correct decisions when we run our community affairs, politically, culturally, and most important of all regarding our educational institutions.
- Committed to the process of a Cyprus solution that will recognise the fundamental human rights of all the people of Cyprus, free from military presence and military threats.
- Committed to showing the world that Cyprus can be a model of co-existence between the ethnic and religious minorities in which Armenian and Turkish Cypriots will serve as a mode l of peace.
- Committed to our history and our link to the past.
- Committed... to our land and in the name of the our lands from which we were forcefully driven away .... not just once.

This year too...
when we all make our way to Sourp Magar Monastery
when we face the path that brought us here and created our community
when we face and sing "Cilicia" across the sea and the land that our forefathers called "home"

Let us renew our vows and stay committed
in the name of our lands...
Simon Aynedjian - Nicosia (Gibrahayer) 1 July, 2005 – It is business as usual for the kiosk operating at Sourp Magar Monastery. With the 2.5 km road from Halevka junction now open–and the huge billboard inviting picnickers in the Pantataktylos mountain region–the Sourp Magar monastery–now in ruins–has suddenly been transformed into a popular picnic destination.

"Ermeni Manastiri" reads the sign leading to the ruins. There we came across both Greek and Turkish Cypriots–enjoying traditional shish kebabs and playing football with the members of their family in front of the monument erected in 1933 on the occasion of the visit of Catholicos Sahag of Cilicia.

It is business as usual for the kiosk operating at Sourp Magar Monastery where everything seems the same–that is only if you’re very bad at mathematics.

Going back 30 years–you would have found a few scenes missing–but there are certainly more than a few scenes missing now. One needs not to be an expert in subtractions in order to grasp this new equation.

Missing are the few hundred Armenia’s who would have been in the Monastery on a Sunday afternoon: the family christening their infant–my godfather’s–Karnig Kouyoumdjian’s–christening basin that he built for his grand children and for the Armenian community of Cyprus.

Actually almost everything is missing except for the desecrated walls of the Church.
The inconspicuous Cross on the Church– also missing. So are the windows and the doors in every room–the icons and the pictures–the candles and the scent–as well as most of the floors.

DANGER warns one sign! I wonder if the holes on the ground are in fact the sole root of our problems…
The big room facing the sea–where we had our family get-togethers–is also missing. The floor has simply vanished. I remember–during winter times–we used to rush to the window–to witness with our naked eye–the first signs of snow on the multiple peaks of the Tarsus Mountains.

From the same window one can meet the sea-path through which our own grandparents entered Cyprus–fleeing the Genocide and the deportations carried out by the Ottoman Turkish Government against the Armenia’s in 1915.
The same path was later used by the storming Turkish army who invaded the island 30 years ago.
What does that add up to now?
To view imags of the Pilgrimage in 2007 click here
QUICK LINKS - Chronicle by Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra here ?

- 75 images of the Pilgrimage to Saint Magar Monastery click here

- Prayers in Saint Magar Monastery here


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