With the "Jerusalem 2000 Pilgrimage" only a matter of days away–more than 500 Armenian Church members from throughout North America are getting ready to begin a once-in-a-lifetime experience: to walk in the places where Jesus Christ walked–at the start of the year marking the 2000th anniversary of His birth! Their adventure will occur from January 15 through 22.
One year ago–His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian–the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem–invited all the faithful of the Armenian Church to come to Jerusalem for this momentous world milestone. The Armenia’s have maintained an important and enduring presence in the Holy Land since early medieval times–and enjoy joint custody of the various holy sites with the Latin and Greek churches. The Jerusalem Armenia’s observe Christ’s Nativity on January 18/19 (calculated according to the Julian Calendar)–precisely when the Jerusalem 2000 pilgrims will be visiting Bethlehem!
The pilgrimage is blessed to enjoy the presence of the new Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–His Holiness Karekin II. While in the Holy Land–His Holiness will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at the Armenian Patriarchate’s Cathedral of St. James (in Jerusalem) and at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In addition–the pilgrimage will be honored by the presence of President Robert Kocharian of the Republic of Armenia–and various high-ranking churchmen.
As a special pre-departure gift–all the participants are receiving "An Armenian Pilgrim’s Companion to the Holy Land," a newly-published guidebook prepared by the faculty of St. Nersess Seminary.
Among the many interesting features of the pilgrimage–the pilgrims will be treated to sumptuous Armenian music throughout their journey. About 35 members of the Armenian Church Choir Association of America will be traveling among the 500 pilgrims–to provide choral music for the two pontifical liturgical celebrations as well as for a major concert of Armenian music.
The Choir Association singers will be joined by a group of 22 tenors and basses–culled from the Jerusalem Patriarchate’s Theological Seminary. Professor Khoren Meikhanedjian–director of New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral Choir–recently traveled to the Holy City to choose the seminarians and rehearse them in the various concert pieces as well as the Ekmalian badarak setting.