August 18, 2011 - 11:25 AMT
Van prepares for second liturgy in Holy Cross Church

The Van Governor’s Office has begun comprehensive preparations, including the construction of a new pier on Lake Van, for a second divine liturgy that will be held on Akhtamar Island’s Church of Holy Cross on September 11, Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“The governor’s office is building a large pier that will meet the needs [of visitors] in place of the current pier. Moreover, arrangements are also underway to better serve the guests who will be coming to the island for the divine liturgy,” Van Gov. Münir Karaloğlu said.

“Over 7,000 people attended last year’s ceremony. This year, we are also expecting Armenians from Iran as well. At any rate, there is generally an apparent increase in the [number] of tourists who arrive in Van starting in the month of August,” Karaloğlu said.

“Of course, it is not just Armenians but tourists from all corners of the world who come to Van. We broke a record in [the number of tourist arrivals] during this year’s first six months in comparison to previous years,” he said.

Deputy Patriarch Archbishop Aram Ateşyan, who will preside over this year’s divine liturgy, said in a press release that no official invitations were going to be sent either to Armenia or to the Diaspora for the September ceremony.

Commenting on the lack of a cross atop the church last year, governor Karaloğlu said: “The Diaspora was saying that another divine liturgy was not going to be allowed. The arguments were fuelled because no crosses were put on [the church.] The cross was put in place after the liturgy, and as you can see, a permit for a liturgy is also being issued for the second time. Past years’ debates regarding the church’s cross were unnecessary.”

The governor also said they had applied to international organizations and received funds to restore several churches and monasteries within the boundaries of the eastern province.

Restoration works for the Ktuts Monastery (Turkish name is Çarpanak), which dates back to the 15th century, will start in a couple of months, the governor said.

When the restoration is completed, Çarpanak will also be open to visitors as a museum, he said.