On April 23, 2015, His Grace Bishop Abgar Hovakimian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Canada, under the gaze of biblical Ararat, participated in the Canonization Ceremony of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide at the Holy See of Etchmiadzin. The ceremony was the biggest canonization service in the history of the Armenian people. It occurred one day before the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and marked a major event in the history of the Armenian nation, as no elevation to sainthood has taken place in the Armenian Apostolic Church for over 400 years.
The Canonization Service was conducted by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
Religious and lay leaders from all over the world gathered at the Holy See of Etchmiadzin to partake in the historical Canonization ceremony and to honour the memory of the Saint Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.
“We believe that we are weaving the crown of a new spiritual rebirth for our people, by canonizing the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. The memory of our holy martyrs will therefore not be a requiem prayer of victimhood and dormition, rather a victorious song of praise by incorporeal soldiers, triumphant and sanctified by the blood of martyrdom” – said His Holiness Karekin II.
The ceremony concluded at 19:15 (Yerevan time) with the coordinated worldwide ringing of church bells 100 times to symbolize the year in which the Genocide began, and the century which has passed.
During the service, 14 holy relics of the Armenian Church were used. These included: The Holy Lance or “Geghard,” the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator, Relic of the True Cross, Reliquary of Skevra, the Right Hand of St. Stephen the Protodeacon and First Martyr of the Church, the Right Hand of the Apostle Ananias, The Right Hand of St. Sahak I Parthev, The Right Hand of St. Sarkis the Warrior, The Right Hand of St. Gevork the Warrior, the Cross-reliquary of St. Thaddeus and St. Virgin Sandukht, Cross-reliquary of St. John the Baptist, Reliquary of St. Gregory of Narek and Other Saints, and the Gospel of Zeytun.