Sunday, June 28, 2009

Surp Sarkis vs. Surp Giragos - Diyarbekir

A caveat to my original blog on Diyarbekir (posted on June 11, 2009):

Shortly after our return to the United States, we discovered that the local people who were asked to take us to the Armenian Church in the Old City of Diyarbekir had taken us to the ruins of the Church of Surp Sarkis, not the church of Surp Giragos, as we had earlier believed we were visiting.

Surp Sarkis was a smaller version of the larger cathedral of Surp Giragos, was used after the Genocide as a warehouse, and was in a much worse state of existence than we understood later Sourp Giragos to be.

We have since learned that, indeed, efforts are underway to restore Surp Giragos Church, and that three of its five altars still exist. Hopefully one day I will have the opportunity to visit the city once more, and pay my respects to the memory of the Amirian Family who died in 1915 by visiting Sourp Giragos Church.

Our mother Lucine's father's family - the Kasarjian family of Diyarbekir -- went to Sourp Sarkis Church. They were cousins of the Amirian Family. Our great grandparents (grandfather's mother and father) were married there, and our maternal grandfather John Kebajian and his older brothers were baptized there. In 1897, my grandfather and his brothers traveled with their parents to Egypt to avoid the massacres that had begun in Turkey. His oldest brother was a scholar and studied at the Mekhitarist monastery in Venice, Italy. My grandfather eventually came to the United States and fought as a cavalry officer in the war against Pancho Villa. He met my grandmother Queeny (his cousin) when she came to the United States in or around the early 1920's.

In reading the journal written by my grandfather, quoting writings of his father, we learned that Grandpa John's uncle was the original designer of the tiles used to decorate BOTH Surp Giragos and Surp Sarkis churches. Some of that artistic work is still evident in the Surp Giragos Church.

Although we are disappointed that we did not see the Amirian Family's church of Sourp Giragos, we know that we were in the general area where they lived and worshiped, and we are happy that we went to the church at which our maternal grandfather's family worshiped. The Old City is small, and undoubtedly the many people who come from the town of Diyarbekir walked all of these narrow streets and alleys, and their sacrifice for us was something we felt just by being there.

My mother commented, after we confirmed that we had not been to Surp Giragos, that most likely the bump on my head (described in my blog) and the bird poop deposited on Brian's arm (also described in the blog) were undoubtedly messages from Grandma Queeny -- maybe not the message we originally believed, but certainly still a message. (ALK)

1 comment:

  1. I recently read a book about armenian Genocide and I was looking for more information about this terrible event, In the book is mentioned this church so I found your blog, thanks for all this info and photos !

    Mariella, Rome, Italy