On Sunday, 4th September, the Primate, Bishop Hovakim Manukyan travelled to Canonstown, near Penzance in Cornwall. He was accompanied by Deacons Hovik Hovhannisyan and Nairi Afrikian, and Maestro Tigran Vorberian. The Divine Liturgy was conducted in a private chapel, and was open to all wishing to partake, especially the Armenians living in South West England.
The idea was initiated by the Primate, and by Levon Stephan, who lives in the region. Two of the pilgrims were Tamara and David Stephan, who also travelled from London.
The chapel was constructed by the late Thomas Joseph, an Armenian from India, and is used by the Armenian Church as well as the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. The host was Mrs. Georgiana Joseph, widow of Thomas Joseph.
A few Armenian families living in the South West joined in the liturgy and shared Holy Communion. Afterwards there was a reception at the local Methodist Church during which Bishop Hovakim thanked both Mrs. Joseph and the organisers of the event.
During the liturgy the Primate preached from the Gospel of St. Mark (7:31-37):
“Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.
After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
During the service, the Primate presented the chapel with a reproduction of the Icon of the Holy Martyrs of the Genocide, as well as copies of the newly-reprinted Prayer Book of St. Gregory of Narek.
The visit was a part of one of the Primate’s objectives to reach out to the wider Armenian community in the UK. This pilgrimage to Cornwall will now become an annual tradition. Any Armenians living in South West England are encouraged to contact the Primate’s Office for further information.