Virgin Mary’s Ascension Feast celebrated in Antioch with Enthusiasm
Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, one of the five great holidays of the Armenian Apostolic Church was celebrated this year on Sunday, August 18 in all the Armenian parishes which have a priest. The celebration which took place in Vakiflikoy, Turkey’s unique Armenian village were presided by the Patriarchal Locum Tenens Bishop Sahak Maşalyan.
This year, the celebrations were held with great interest and enthusiasm, with the participation of the faithful coming from Istanbul, other regions of the country and abroad.
On Thursday 15August, a group of approximately 100 people arrived from Istanbul for a 4-day pilgrimage, by visiting Samandağ and the surrounding historical areas.
Bishop Sahak Maşalyan and his deputy, Father Şirvan Mürzyan visited first the Samabağ Governor Murat Kütükü and then arrived to Vakıflıköy. At the entrance to the village and church wheye were welcomed with the accompaniment of the traditional regional instruments, the drum and the zurna. Bishop Maşalyan was being accompanied also by Father Avedis Tabaşyan, the parish priest, and Cem Çapar, the head of the Vakıflıköy church foundation. Bishop Maşalyan blessed bread-water and salt which represent the abundance at the church entrance.
On Saturday, a group of 100 people visited the nearby Armenian villages. Bishop Maşalyan who met the group in the villages of Yoğunoluk and Batıayaz, visited together the ruins of the old church, received information about these places and prayed for those who lived here in the past.
On Saturday evening, special celebrations were held for the day of the lighting of the fire for boilers of Harisa (Hirisi-Herisa) meal, which were traditionally celebrated in the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which were also cooked for the ancestors living in other 7 Armenian villages of Musadag in the past.
On Sunday morning, August 18, a Holy Mass was held at the Holy Asdvadzadzin Church for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Father Avedis Tabashyan, the parish priest of the churches of Iskenderun and Vakiflikoy, offered the Holy Communion during the ritual presided by Bishop Sahak Maşalyan, with the participation of Fr. Gregorio from Italy, Archpriest Kegham Kesabian and Archpriest Mampre Kesabyan from the United States.