Lviv Celebrates 650th Anniversary of Armenian Cathedral
The Armenian community of Lviv celebrates the 650th anniversary of its cathedral. Today in Lviv the altar “Golgotha,” which was under restoration, was unveiled. The celebration was attended by the Polish Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski, Polish Senator Lucas Abgarowicz, the clergy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and the faithful who came to the city from different parts of Ukraine, Russia, and Armenia, as well as the community of Armenian Catholics from Poland. The festive prayer was led by Archbishop of the Ukrainian Eparchy of the Armenian Apostolic Church Grigoris Buniatyan. To the celebration also came Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisian, locum tenens of the Canadian Eparchy, who from 1991 to 2000 was the head of the Ukrainian Armenians and built up the Ukrainian eparchy.
Polish and Ukrainian experts, including restorer Andrzej Kazberuk and students and graduates of the Lviv Academy of Arts, worked on the restoration of the “Golgotha” for three years. The altar was restored as part of the Ukrainian-Polish project “Preservation of Shared Cultural Heritage.”
“The service of our ministry is to make an effort to preserve the heritage left by our history. In this place, we – Poles, Ukrainians, Armenians, and Jews – had the fortune to live together. Each of these peoples gave their contribution to the development of this very good culture,” said Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland Bogdan.
The fact that restorers were able to complete the “Golgotha” for the celebration of the 650th anniversary of the cathedral Zdrojewski called a sign of God. And he said that it is a sign of the establishment and improvement of cooperation and mutual friendship between the Ukrainian and Polish nations.
The head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Ukraine Archbishop Grigoris Buniatyan emphasized not only the historicity of events and meaning of the celebrations, but also the special symbolism. The blessing of the restored composition “Golgotha” takes place on the day when Armenians celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. “History is history, the celebration is a celebration, but the main thing is life – that which is happening at a particular moment. Today is a great feast in the Armenian Apostolic Church – the Exaltation of the Cross,” he said.
It should be noted that the vast majority of Armenians who found their refuge in Lviv in the Middle Ages, left the city after the Second World War and found themselves in Poland. On behalf of those Armenians spoke Senator Lucasz Abgarowicz. “Today I want to express the sentiments of Polish Armenians who built this church, were its parishioners, were baptized here, our priests served liturgy here. This place was the testament to our relationship with God and to the homeland we lost. It was our little homeland, Lviv for us was our little Armenia, our capital. Armenians helped to create this city, its wealth, its development, and its greatness. And now they are willing to support it.”
He thanked his fellow Armenians for the Armenian Street Festival, and he became one its honorary residents.
Greetings from the Roman Catholic community were given by Auxiliary Bishop of Lviv Leon Maly. “During my stay in Yerevan, I realized that the Armenians’ faith and love go together, and I hope to God that it stays that way in subsequent generations,” he said. The celebration was also attended by representatives of various religious communities of Lviv.
On behalf of all the citizens of Lviv, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said: “The strength of our city is in unity. We are very happy that we have many nationalities that live together in harmony and peace. All the communities of Lviv are one big powerful force.”
The celebration continued with a traditional agape in the courtyard of the Armenian Cathedral. The Armenian Street Festival was held for several days, during which took place the opening of the Armenian Cultural Center and the Armenian Children's School.