VAN. – Hundreds of Armenians from all around the world attended the Divine Liturgy that was offered Sunday in Surp Khach (Holy Cross) Church of Akhtamar Island on Lake Van in Turkey.

Archbishop Aram Atesyan, General Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as Greek Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Assyrian Orthodox Church, several other senior clergy, and representatives of the Van authorities were on hand at the Holy Mass, News.am reporter informed from location.

Archb. Ateshyan said this year they prayed for those who lost their lives in wars, especially in the Middle East.

“Our message is about peace in the country and in the world,” he said. “We pray for the salvation of the souls of those who lost their lives in the wars in Syria, Iraq and Gaza. We will beg to God for people living together, regardless of religion, race or sects. Unfortunately people are being killed in the name of religions and sects. I think that does not suit well to any of the religions,” he added.

Gevas Mayor Sinan Hakan hosted a “Peace Lunch” in the center of the district after the service.

“Gevas is a significant center for Christianity and Islam. As locals of Gevas, we want our guests to feel at home while they are here as part of the ceremony. They are not strangers to us. There was a tradition of living together with them for thousands of years. We want to revitalize that here on the day,” said Hakan.

Primarily Turks and Kurds were in attendance at this year’s mass, where special places were allocated for them in the church. Armenians had come from Russia, US and Europe to attend the Divine Liturgy.  A large number of foreigners also were on hand at the mass. Some of them had arrived in Van from Armenia’s capital Yerevan, where they had participated in a conference.

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