Once one of the largest churches in the Middle East, Surp Giragos Church in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır was reopened for public worship on Oct. 23.
Participating in the re-opening ceremony was Archbishop Aram Ateshian (Aram Ateşyan), the deputy patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate based in İstanbul (Constantinople); Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the US the Most Rev. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian; Legate of the Eastern Diocese of the US Archbishop Vicken Aykazian; Prelate of the Armenian Diocese of Aleppo, Bishop Shahan Sarkissian and others, reports Armenian news site bnaban.am, citing the Turkish Doğan News Agency.
Reportedly, 1,500 Armenians overall participated in the ceremony.
Recall, renovation started at the end of 2009 after the Diyarbakır Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation undertook the restoration project of the church.
The church was seized by the German army during World War I, and in 1918, it was converted into a textile warehouse of Sümerbank. After the Armenian population of the area made an application in 1952 asking for its return, the church was given back to the community. However, because of the lack of a congregation, it had been neglected since 1980.
Earlier, Ergün Ayık, the head of the foundation, had said, “First, this is a very important church from an architectural point of view. Second, it symbolizes the past. This is one of only seven Armenian churches in the city.”