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Norashen Church Isn’t the Only Example of Their Barbaric Behavior

The Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church informed Regnum agency that there are many examples of barbaric behavior against the Armenian spiritual and cultural values in Tbilisi, while the recent events that took place around Norashen Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin) church, "were just a notorious example of such behavior."


It turned out that on February 15, the Georgian Orthodox Church consecrated the Armenian Norashen church by a Georgian rite. After the complaints of the Armenian dwellers of Tbilisi, Ilia II, Georgian Catholicos, decided to close the church. Father Abgar said that, certainly, the Norashen church should be opened again, but as an Armenian church only, while the Georgian false headstones that were brought to the yard of the church should be withdrawn from its territory.


As we informed earlier, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanian, head of Georgian-Armenian Diocese, applied to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili with the issue of the Norashen Church. Zion Catherdral, Georgian Orthodox Church, the Azeri mosque, as well as Jewish synagogue situate in Leselidze Street, near the Armenian Norashen Street. There used to be a Greek church beside the Norashen Church, but few years ago it was consecrated by a Georgian rite and became one of the three churches stolen from the Greek in Tbilisi. During the renovation of the very Greek church the Georgian threw the rubbish and Georgian headstones brought from other places into the yard of Norashen church, to prove in future that this church is a Georgian one.


Norashen Surb Astvatsatsin church was established in 1467 and reconstructed in 1650. Jean Chardin who visited Tbilisi in 1672 indicates the church with the name Norashen. The church had been reconstructed for three times more in 1795, 1808 and 1875. In 1994, Tariel, a Georgian priest, began making an Armenian church into a Georgian one. Particularly, he withdrew the frescos by the Hovnatanian brothers out of the inner walls of the church.

Since 1989, a number of Armenian churches were turned into Georgian ones. We will mention some of them: the Armenian Tchughureti Surb Astvatsatsin church in Nino Chkheidze Street, that was consecrated by Ilia II as the Georgian St. Nino Church in the presence of Zviad Gamsakhurdia. Today this church is called Tsminda Ninos Eklesia.


In 1989, Karmir Avetaran, the highest church of Tbilisi (40 meters) was exploited. There used to be eight Armenian churches in Havlabar (a well-known Armenian historical district in Tbilisi). At present, only one of them functions, that is Echmiatsnots St. Gevorg Church. Dzorabash St. Gevorg and St, Karapet Churches were also taken over and made into Georgian churches. Yerevantsots St. Minas Church is semi–ruined now.

Since 1990, some other Armenian churches were taken hold of or consecrated Georgian in Tbilisi.

These churches are Karapi St. Gevorg church, Bethlehem Surb Astvatsatsin church, Kusanats St. Stepanos church, Zarivajri St. Karapet church. In the October of 2002, St. Nshan church was set on fire, while Mughni St. Gevorg church is about to be deconstructed.

Today, the Georgian Orthodox Church spares no efforts to take hold of Norashen Surb Astvatsatsin church.

By Tatoul Hakobian

AZG Armenian Daily #038, 03/03/2005

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